Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tandem Live Blogging: Boston vs. San Francisco

Welcome everyone to another night of Boston Blitz chess action! We're starting a little later tonight as the Blitz are taking on the far western representative of the USCL, the San Francisco Mechanics. It may be dark here, but the sun is still shining brightly in California, that is assuming that San Francisco isn't covered in clouds and fog.

Coming into tonight's match the Blitz find themselves in third place in the Eastern Division after being crushed 3.5-0.5 last week by the Baltimore Kingfishers. The Mechanics are also in third place in their division coming off a 2.5-1.5 win against the Miami Sharks.

As for the individual match-ups, it's another top-heavy vs. balanced battle this evening. On Board 1, Boston's IM Eugene Perelshteyn takes in a 100+ point rating advantage and the white pieces against IM John Donaldson. IM Josh Friedel stays on Board 2 and faces what's likely to be a competitive game with FM Dimitry Zilberstein. On Board 3, soon to be new Boylston Chess Club Champion NM Charles Riordan will have an uphill battle against FM David Pruess. And finally, we'll see Ilya Krasik with the Black pieces against NM Andy Lee on Board 4. The Blitz bring in an average rating of 2362 vs. the Mechanics' 2385.

We have a little twist planned for tonight's coverage. Both Rihel and DG will be commenting on the games. You'll find Rihel's notes in green and DG's in whatever this color looks like on your monitor. This should be interesting.

Now, before we begin, let's take a short break for station identification:

This is BCC Weblog -
Your independent source for coverage of
the Boston Blitz and the United States Chess League

Alright, we're off to the action on the ICC.


Hi everyone! Let me jump right in, DG, and say that I am curious about the line-up tonight. I think that the Blitz really have a tough match-up tonight. I'm guessing that Board 4 Krasik will need to pull out a WIN to give the Blitz a good chance to win. That being said, I wonder why Charles isn't on Board 4 tonight, with maybe MacIntyre on Board 3. Krasik is proving to be underrated, but Charles would be a good matchup on Board 4 tonight.

Well, Jason, the only problem with that option is that Friedel wouldn't be able to play since the Blitz would overstep the average rating requirement. As I posted earlier this week, this was definitely a week when the team needed to consider the merits of both top-heavy and balanced line-up options. Obviously, they chose to stick with the top-heavy approach.

In my view, this match is likely to come down to Boards 2 & 4. Eugene just has to win on Board 1 for the Blitz to have a chance and if they get anything from Riordan it will be gravy. So I figure they need 1.5 pts from Friedel and Krasik; problem is, they both have Black. If Krasik really is underrated then tonight would be a great night to breakthrough against a "low-rated" master.

Well, they are a bit slow in getting started, so let me make a quick comment on the World Championships -- Leko lost to Topalov as White in a very exciting game. Also, Judit Polgar lost to Anand as White in a strange game. She seemed surprised out of the opening and chose a dubious plan.

If I could play twice as dubiously as Judit, I'd be thrilled!


OK, let's take a look at the openings. On Board 2, Friedel is on the Black side on an Open Ruy; 11 moves in and it's all theory so far. Over on Board 3, Riordan is facing a Semi-Slav, but he responded with the unusual move 5.Qd3.

And on Board One we have an Accelerated Dragon position, and on Board four, Krasik responded to a Classical KID setup with Bg4. I am not familiar with that particular line, but Chessbase will show us the way in a few minutes.


After 8...b4 by Pruess, I found 10 games that reached this position. On the White side names like Rubinetti, Epishin, Speelman and Gurevich; for Black -- Sveshnikov, Oll, Wells and Fontaine.

Well, as I thought, according to Chessbase, Bg4 by Board 4 Krasik is an unusual move, played only about 100 times in the database of 4 million games. This does not mean that it is a bad move, though—in past encounters, White has scored badly (based on games in the database.) In fact, the particular line being played has White with a 22% score, which includes draws! This could very well be some home cooking by Krasik tonight!

Board 1 is on more familiar ground, with the game in “book” through 19. a3. Donaldson’s reply 19… h5, however, appears in the database exactly once, Yoos-Taylor, 1996. A more common reply here was 19…a5 or 19… Be5, although it seems that many other moves have been tried.


Board 3 is looking pretty equal. I think Riordan let his opponent off the hook by immediately trading off on c5. Now Black's bishops look impressive on the a8-h1 and a7-g1 diagonals. Over on Board 2 they are 15 moves in and while I haven't looked it up, I wouldn't be surprised if it's still in theory.

Perelshteyn looks fine to me, eventhough Black has the a-file. And it's still really early on Board 4 where Krasik is setting up to chip away at White's center. Any thoughts, JR?

Board 1 is still following the Yoos-Taylor game until 21…Ne6. It looks like Eugene is spending a lot of time in the position already, 38 minutes to 60 minutes for Donaldson. While I like White’s position here, the time could become a factor later on.

On Board 4, let’s consider the point of the early trade of light squared Bishop. In Classical KID positions, Blacks light squared B can be hard to develop properly. By trading it for White’s Knight, that problem is solved. Now, I suspect White will try to make his center dominate, giving his extra Bishops more space, while Black may try to keep it closed, letting the Knights have their way. Of course, Black has the strong fianchettoed dark-square Bishop, which could become a monster if lines open up. So I guess Black is going to pry the center open, carefully.

I have to say, I like the Blitz's positions here on Boards 1 and 4 so far.


There are pieces hanging all over Board 3 after 16...Nb6. But now it looks like everybody got out of harm's way without captures. I must say that Black looks more active and Riordan's Queen looks funny on b5 surrounded by Black's minor pieces.

I understand that both Donaldson and Perelshteyn are experts on the Accelerated Dragon. An interesting struggle for theory on Board 1 ???

Board 3 has started to become very interesting, I agree. I also think that Black must be better here. After 18... Be4, where is White going to put his queen?


Action on Board 2 where Zilberstein has sacked the exchange for an attack against f7. I think Josh might be in real trouble after 22.Qxd8. After 22…Rexd8 23.Nxf7 looks good.

On Board 3, I guess Charles could have played to Qa6 after Be4, but now, after 18…a5, that queen is seriously running out of room. Ba6 is a threat. At the very least, Black will gain a number of tempi as Charles tries to get the queen out of danger. Plus, Black really has no weaknesses for White to exploit.

Yes, Riordan's position does look shaky and Friedel's as well. Josh took with the other rook, Raxd8. Now Black is thinking about which piece to capture with on f7 (at least that's what I would be thinking about). Board 4 is starting to open up a bit also, but I'm not sure it's to anyone's advantage yet.


Looking at Board 4, I feel that White is starting to get a slight pull. The position is starting to open up in favor of White’s Bishop pair, as White has claimed more queenside space. True, Black’s Bishop is eying the Knight on c3 and Rook on a1, but once those pieces clear the long diagonal, the Bishop will hit nothing important. Still, there is a lot of tension in the position, and anything can happen.

So, overall, I only have a good feeling about Eugene's position on Board 1. The others are starting to look shaky, with Krasik losing the thread a little, but still holding a decent position.

I don't know, Jason. Lee's c-pawn might turn out to be weak and Krasik might be able to put more pressure on it or somehow trade it for his backward d-pawn.

Ok, DG, let's duke it out! On Board 4, 19. b5 is going to be a tough move, if played. After 19 b5 axb5 20. Nxb5 Qb8 21. f4, white will get a firm plus. It is the d pawn that is weak, not the c pawn. True, Black can try down the a-file, but that is going to take some moves to reorganize. Meanwhile, White is going to break open the center.

On Board 3, is Charles managing to get out of the complications OK? I still like black, but White is putting up some tough resistance in a tricky position.


Jason, you seem pretty passionate about your convictions on Board 4 so I'll just watch to see what happens.

Hold on! Did Zilberstein just blunder? After 25.Bg5, can’t Friedel just take on d6 twice? Wait, maybe not. After 25…Bxd6, then 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27. Rd1 and White can keep piling up on the pinned rook with Ne3, if necessary.

As for Board 3, I still think you need to like Black's position with those two rooks on the open files and two active bishops.

Whoa! On board 4, Krasik just sacked his Rook for the Exchange on c4. I don’t understand this move. Doesn’t it just drop the pawn on d6 after 21…. Qxc4 22. Rxd6? If now 22…Qxb4, 23. e5! So 22…bxa4 23. Rc1 threatens e5, so 23….e5 and 24. Qxa4. Black is an exchange down with no comp.

I'll take a look, DG, now at the Zilberstein game and see what is what.


No Rxd6 on Board 4 as you suggested, but Black's in big trouble anyways. Still down the exchange and now his b5 pawn has fallen. It's not looking good for the Blitz here.


Alright, let's do a quick rundown of the positions. I still like Eugene on Board 1. Josh looks like he might be wriggling out on Board 2, but he still has those doubled pawns and a bad bishop to worry about. Blitz fans shouldn't expect more than a 1/2 pt. here.

Riordan's hanging in there, but no more than that. And Krasik looks to be in a heap of trouble. Right now, I say the Blitz are looking at 2-2 in a best case scenario. Of course, time trouble can change everything!


Board 1 is over! Perelshteyn wins! 1-0 Blitz.

That was a nice clear game from the beginning. GO Blitz! It looks like that will be 1-1, as Krasik is on his last legs on Board 4. It all comes down to Boards 2 and 3 -- I think Friedel is worse, looking at White's dangerous b pawn, but maybe he can pull one out in time pressure. Charles is holding, but time pressure is going to decide that game one way or the other.

Friedel is only slightly worse according to Fritz, after 37. Kf1. I bet it is a drawn endgame now. Black’s advanced King and Pawns hold the balance here. Charles looks fine now, with a lot of play in the position, but time is a major factor now.


Board 2 is a draw by repitition. Friedel managed to extricate himself from a position that looked bad earlier on. So that's 1.5-0.5 Blitz, though the Mechanics are probably going to tie it up on Board 4.

Riordan is down to two minutes. The Blitz are likely going to need him to hold on if they want to avoid another loss.


I think that Charles is coming out better! He has the opportunity to play, 45. Nxe5, winning a pawn. DG, am I hallucinating?

Instead, Charles takes the Knight on d4 with his rook, sacking the exhange. The action is flying, and I can't post and watch at the same time. DG, help me, what is going on?

Yes, we are going to have to look at Nxe5 after the game. Maybe Riordan thought the exchange sack offered better winning chances. He's got 2 pawns for it now, so maybe his idea is sound. Of course time trouble ensures that neither side will play this ending perfectly.

I just whipped out Fritz on this game, I couldn't help myself -- it gives Charles an advantage after the queen trade of +1.00 He is in good shape here, if he can manage his time.


Krasik just resigned on Board 4. That evens it up at 1.5 each. I said at the beginning that anything Riordan provided would be gravy; well Boston Blitz, it's gravy time!

After Rc2+, the IMs in the gallery are suggesting that Charles might be in trouble.


After 65…Ra3, Fritz calls this position a dead draw. We’ll see what happens. We always have to be careful with Fritz, especially in endgames. I am running 6 piece tablebases, which does boost Fritz’s endgame power tremendously, though.


Well, right after I said that, I check again and Fritz tilts strongly towards Black. Of course, Black can't lose now, so Charles is going to be tortured with this position for a while until there is no more play. Black is in good shape to pull out a win.

At this point, Riordan is not going to win. Best we can hope for is a drawn match.

After 81.Bb7, Fritz is firmly in the draw evaluation! It hovered back and forth, with Pruess perhaps missing a forced win earlier on, but now it says draw. I think Charles has it now, too, as Black cannot prevent white from trading the B for the h pawn and then shuffling the a pawn forward with the king. Great game so far by Charles to hold on!


That’s it, Riordan draws. It’s a drawn match as well 2-2.

Well, the Blitz managed to squeeze out a draw tonight. It was certainly an exciting finish, but another disappointment for the team overall. Eugene did his job and Charles managed a half point against strong opposition. However, at the top I said that Boston needed 1.5 points out of Boards 2 & 4 and that just didn’t happen. Josh could easily have lost (I think) but played well enough to secure a draw. Ilya went down again.

I hope the Blitz take the next few days to do a serious rethink about their approach to these matches. It seems clear at this point that what they are doing, so far, is not going to be enough to make the playoffs.

WoW! A stressful but well earned draw from this match. Coming into this match as slight underdogs, I think that a drawn match is a good result. A misstep on Board 2 was neutralized by the great tenaciousness that Charles showed on Board 3. I am not so sure that the approach of the team is at fault here. If Josh had a better night at Board 2, then Charles's great toughness on Board 3 would have paid off. With Eugene anchoring the top board with a very nice win, this lineup had every chance to win this round. True, Krasik underperformed on Board 4, it looks like he miscalculated with his Exchange sac, but I don't see how the team would have fared much better with a different lineup. Then again, Charles is proving to be solid on Board 3, maybe against weaker opponents on Board 4, he could notch up some wins for the Blitz. Even still, in almost all imagined scenarios, there is a relative rating hole at Board 3, leaving lots of pressue on Board 1 and 2. Why not give those Boards the best chances to win, and leave Boards 3 and 4 as underdogs who are also perhaps underrated?

Anyway, I have to say, DG, that I had a blast! I don’t know how you commented on 4 games at once by yourself. Thanks for having me on, and I'm looking forward to trying it again.

Thanks Jason. We'll see you all next week for more USCL and Boston Blitz action. Good night everyone.

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