Monday, September 12, 2005

Blitz seek rebound after disappointing draw

The U.S. Chess League's Boston Blitz are still licking their wounds after squandering a golden opportunity to score their first match win last week against the Philadelphia Masterminds -- a team they out-rated 2378 to 2292 (see my "play-by-play" coverage here).

While all eyes were originally on Board 1 for GM Larry Christiansen's debut, the match came down to Board 4 where Ilya Krasik chose to forgo a chance for a relatively easy draw and instead pursued complications which led to his demise. You can see the critical position and read the gory details of what happened in the league's match report.

This outcome raises interesting questions about week-to-week team construction in the USCL. While the Blitz were able to put a 2600-rated GM on Board 1, the 2400 average team rating rule forced them to include a non-Master on Board 4. You can see a similar pattern with the line-ups of other teams as well. Those teams without ratings monsters at the top are able to field a more balanced line-up with strong masters from top to bottom. It will be interesting to see which strategy prevails in the end.

For this week's action the Blitz are competing with largely the same players as last week. Only on Board 3 is there a change, where FM Bill Kelleher replaces FM Paul MacIntyre. The Carolina Cobras counter with IM-elect Milman, IM Schroer, FM Hoekstra, and NM Samsa. As a result, the Blitz have a rating advantage on the top two boards and a disadvantage on 3 and 4.

While currently tied for second in the Eastern Division, the Blitz will look to gain ground on a Philadelphia team that is facing an average 88 point rating deficit against the Baltimore Kingfishers. However, to date, ratings differences have been of little concern to the Masterminds.

Schedule permitting, I am planning to provide "live" coverage of the Blitz vs. Cobras match on Wednesday Night (the games begin at 7pm EDT [GMT-5]). Here's hoping that Larry has another quick win, since as a guest on the ICC they don't let me view the GM games live.

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