I was set to play white on board two against Andrew Samuelson, a very active local Master and two time Virginia State Champion. Until a few days before the game I had planned on playing my normal openings, but someone warned me that Andrew was extremely well prepared. I remembered trying to prepare for a game with black against him last year and having to suffer after my opening prep got me into trouble. (You can see my summary of that game here: (http://minorpieces.blogspot.com/2012/03/chess-is-hard.html) To avoid an opening argument I decided to play 1.Nf3 for the first time in my chess career. I figured that we would get a position where we would both be thinking on our own and could just play chess.
The plan worked exceptionally well as he made a couple of mistake early on to give me a very pleasant position out of the opening. By move 18, I had a clear advantage, but failed to find the right path forward. Instead of 18. b4 (probably winning), I sacrificed a piece with 18.Nb5 Bxb5 19.Bd4. I completely missed his strong response, 19... Nxc4 and we ended up in a very unclear position, where each move was critical. The game was essentially decided by errors on moves 21 and 23 which let me escape the complications with an extra exchange. I soon reached a winning endgame, where I played safely, but not very precisely and forced his resignation on move 70 as I was about to queen a pawn.
The end of our game brought the match score to 3-1 in our favor with two games left to play. Thanks to our draw odds, the match was decided in our favor (we eventually won without tie-break, 3.5-2.5). Congratulations to everyone on the Kings for a great season.
You can see my game below: