Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sharks bite down on Blitz

The Boston Blitz had a tough time in Round 6 of the US Chess League losing to the Miami Sharks 3-1. This loss, combined with wins by New York and Baltimore, leaves but a small flicker left in the Blitz' playoff hopes.

The evening started out quietly enough as FM Kelleher drew FM Martinez by three-fold repetition in a Bird's Variation of the Ruy Lopez. The game itself was relatively short and not particularly interesting as Queens came off early and after Black moved his rook to the 7th, White had little choice but to oppose it wherever it moved.

Things went downhill for the Blitz when FM MacIntyre blundered his Rook to a simple Knight fork and was forced to resign. While he certainly wasn't winning prior to this error, his position seemed playable enough. Time pressure must have played a role in this oversight; Paul doesn't allow these kinds of tactics when he is playing me.

Next to fall was IM Friedel, but he surely made it interesting. Josh sacrificed his Queen for a Rook, Knight and advanced passed c-pawn. Perhaps the ensuing complications would have been a problem for a lesser player, but GM Becerra played precisely and notched up a win for Miami.

On Board 4, NM Riordan had his hands full with Jorge Diaz. Charles didn't seem to get much going against what, to me, seemed like a fairly strange opening. The resulting position had elements of the Nimzo-Indian (White's doubled c-pawns) and the Dutch Leningrad (Black pawns on f5 and g6) -- though Black's fianchettoed Bishop had already left the board. Eventually the position took on a rather drawish character with double rooks and bishops of opposite color, but Riordan pushed forward looking for winning chances. One of the ICC kibitzers suggested 40.b5 (instead of 40.c5) as a winning try, but I'm not so sure.

From about move 35 on Diaz made draw offers on four or five consecutive moves. In my view, these repeated draw offers were not appropriate, and potentially annoying to the opponent. I'm sure Charles knew that Jorge was willing to take a draw after his first offer (and certainly after his second one). In any case, Riordan finally concluded that he little hope of creating winning chances and offered the draw himself on move 43.

Next week, the Blitz face the New York Knights for the second time this season in a must win match if they hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Boston drew their previous encounter with New York 2-2.

No comments: