My opponent Eric Rodriguez was 16 years old at the time of this game and yet another super-kid master. With this, I had played eight USCF tournament games since moving to Florida. Four of those games were vs masters who were too young to vote. Add up the ages of my opponents in those games and you equal MY age. I never played competitive chess until I was an adult. I am amazed and impressive to watch these kids perform.
FIDE master Eric Oscar Rodriguez has been very successful in his early chess career. In recent events his USCF rating is sometimes over 2400 and other times just under, currently 2383. Rodriguez has a peak FIDE rating of 2352 and 95 FIDE losses. This means Eric has spent a lot of time playing in events vs higher rated opponents.
Most of the time, Eric Rodriguez wins! Against me Rodriguez played the Lion System which has been very popular since this game. Black basically plays d6, Nf6, Nbd7, e5, c6, Be7, 0-0 and often Qc7 and or h6, depending on what White does. I took an aggressive approach. Alas I made a serious mistake with 9.Nxd5? for which I was well punished. Instead of winning any material, Eric Rodriguez played for checkmate.
I was so disgusted with my play in this game that I quit the tournament and did not play again for eight months. My opening knowledge, tactical skill, analytical ability and strategical approach were all in shambles. I realized that my game needed a major rebuilding at this point. One thing I started doing was a lot more tactical exercises.
Sawyer - Rodriguez, Florida Class Championship (3), 07.01.2006 begins 1.Nc3 Nf6 2.d4 [I was kind of hoping for a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Many times I play the Alekhine Defence here as White with 2.e4.] 2...d6 3.e4 Nbd7 [3...g6 is the main line Pirc Defence. Black is playing the position like a Philidor Defence, but White never played Nf3 to transpose completely.] 4.Be3 e5 5.d5 c6 6.f3!? Be7 7.Qd2 0-0 8.g4!? [What a bold move! This might work vs a lower rated class player, but it is risky vs a master. Castling 8.0-0-0 first seems like a wiser choice.] 8...cxd5 9.Nxd5? [This is a mistake, bringing the Be7 to life. Much better is 9.exd5 a6 10.g5 Nh5 11.Nge2 b5= Equal. Although I am reminded of Tal's comment: If the position is equal, Black is better!] 9...Nxd5 10.Qxd5 Bh4+ 11.Kd2[At this point I decided to make it to move 20 or just play on until I lost a pawn. My original idea was 11.Bf2 Bxf2+ 12.Kxf2 missing until now that Black has 12...Qb6+ 13.Kg2 Qxb2-+ winning.] 11...Nf6 12.Qb3 d5 13.exd5 Nxd5 At this point I expect to be mated fairly soon, though I am not down material. 14.Bd3 Nxe3 15.Kxe3 Qd4+ 16.Kd2 Qf2+ 17.Ne2 Rd8 18.Raf1 Bg5+ 19.Kd1 Qe3 20.Ke1 Be6 21.Qa3 e4 22.fxe4 Bxg4 23.h4 Bxe2 24.Bxe2 Rd1+ Alas, I never had lost any material, but my king will mated next move. 0-1
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