Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blitz unveil "Secret Weapon"

Pre-Match Comments:

As Team Captain Paul MacIntyre hinted awhile back, the Boston Blitz introduce the newest member of their team in tonight's match vs. the Dallas Destiny. FM Steven Winer arrives sporting a rating of 2389 -- just perfect for slotting into Board 3 in their top heavy line-up. As a result, the Blitz will be fielding one of their strongest teams of the year against the Destiny -- IM Perelshteyn, IM Friedel, FM Winer and Ilya Krasik (average rating of 2391). This will make for some very balanced competition with Dallas across all four boards, at least on paper. Perelshteyn actually takes in an 11 point rating advantage against GM Ramirez (Editor's Note: Ramirez became available for the Destiny after his other team, the Boston Red Sox, failed to get out of the first round of the MLB playoffs), while Boards 2 & 3 are a virtual ratings wash. That leaves Board 4 where Krasik should have the advantage against lower rated expert Andres Suarez. All in all, it looks like a night where the Blitz should have good chances of securing a "W."

The odds-makers at Pinnacle Sports have the Blitz as a slight favorite (-115/+105). In the individual games they favor Perelshteyn (-121/+111), Winer (-111/+101) and Krasik (-112/+102) but have Friedel (+106/-116) as an underdog.


Post-Match Comments:

It turned out to be a tough and interesting match for the Blitz and in the end Boston's "Secret Weapon" came through. The result: a 2-2 Draw (See Greg Shahade's official report here).

On Board 1, Perelshteyn and GM Ramirez played a relatively short but complex game in the French Winawer. Ramirez gave up the exchange for a couple of pawns, but Eugene seemed to neutralize Black's activity. Just when it looked like White might be turning tables by winning back one of the pawns, the Grandmaster found a perpetual check combination to secure the draw.

The next game to finish was Board 4. As Black, Krasik sacrificed a pawn in order to trap his opponents Bishop behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, this allowed White to push forward in the center and simultaneously take advantage of the position of Black's Queen on g6. What ensued was a hail of tactics which brought Dallas a win. I'm not certain whether the initial pawn sac was unsound or if the losing move occurred later. In any case, this game is probably worth running through Fritz since some of the combinations might make good tactical exercises for the Knights Errant.

Next up was Friedel's game vs. IM Vavrak. This one was up-and-down the whole way through. Vavrak allowed his queenside pawn structure to be crippled for kingside attacking chances. At first, things looked scary as White continued to bring pieces over to the kingside while Josh's Knights were stuck on the queenside; but, Friedel's position stayed solid and he managed to neutralize White's threats. Then it looked like Black might be able to take advantage of the weak queenside pawns in the ending, but White's two bishops seemed to hold the balance (during the game I was wondering if there was anything to 31...Rf8 [instead of 31...Na4] pinning the f5 bishop to White's King. Maybe I'll look at it later). Somewhere along the way Josh gave up the exchange for a few pawns. Ultimately, all the pawns came off the board and a draw was agreed in the position K+R vs. K+N.

So, the final result rested on the shoulders of newcomer Steven Winer. His Board 3 game was one of those maneuvering affairs with few fireworks early on. When he retreated his Bishop on h6 back to e3, I thought Black had probably equalized. However, from that point forward Winer seemed to consistently outplay his opponent. Fernandez defended well enough to stave off immediate defeat and kept extending the game, but Winer successfully ground him down in 78 moves. No doubt Blitz fans will be looking forward to seeing more of Steven's games in the final two weeks of the season.

The drawn match would have eliminated Boston from the playoff chase if not for the bizarre occurrences on Board 1 of the Baltimore-Carolina Match. The Kingfishers were well on their way to a win when FM Enkhbat blundered away a completely winning position. He was then unable to compose himself and take advantage of reasonable drawing chances. A few moves later he was forced to resign, handing the match to the Cobras. As a result, the Blitz retain a narrow path to the post season which involves winning their remaining two matches against Philadelphia and Baltimore and hoping that Baltimore falls to New York next week.

Stay tuned as the USCL goes down to the wire.

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