Sunday, November 06, 2005

Swan Song

The Boston Blitz failed to come through when it didn't count, losing 2.5-1.5 to the Baltimore Kingfishers in US Chess League Week 10 action. Since Baltimore locked up the second playoff spot in the East last week, this match was for bragging rights only and the Kingfishers showed that their position in the final regular season standings was well deserved. For the Blitz, there is now plenty of time to ponder what went wrong in this inaugural season and prepare for the 2006 campaign.

On Board 1, IM Charbonneau consistently outplayed IM Friedel in a Semi-Slav and found a very nice combination to breakthrough and finish off the game. Dennis Monokroussos liked the combination so much that he made it an exercise for the readers of his blog.

On Board 2, FM Winer played the risky and unnecessary 14.Kf1 in response to a check from Black's Queen and suffered mightily in trying to complete his development for much of the rest of the game. In the time it took him to unravel, FM Enkhbat managed to push his queenside majority down the board. A passed a-pawn eventually cost Winer a piece and ultimately the game.

FM MacIntyre scored the only win of the night for the Blitz (and his only full point of the season). Paul sacrificed a pawn in what is generally considered a dubious line for Black in the Ruy Lopez - Exchange Variation. While MacIntyre's compensation looked negligible at first, imprecise play by IM Kaufman led to a strong attack for Black. A few precise maneuvers at the end spun a mating net from which White's King could not escape.

On Board 4, NM Riordan must have felt like he was running while standing still. In the first half of the game, his knights took extended tours on his side board always finding themselves on the third rank at the end. Then he made the inaccurate move 20.Bc4-d3 which after a pawn push by NM Kaufman was followed by 21.Bd3-c4. Black seemed to have the better of it in the middlegame, but ultimately a Queen ending ensued in which both players had opportunities for perpetual check. Kaufman chose to split the point when Riordan threatened to queen a pawn.

Later on, I'll be doing a wrap-up post on the Boston Blitz' first season in the USCL. In the interim, I'll leave you with League Commissioner Greg Shahade's perspective:

Boston ... is likely disappointed with their result this season. Hopes were high as Boston had quite a few highly ranked players on their roster, yet things just never seemed to break right for the Blitz, as they lost and drew many matches that they should have won. With the talent they have in the New England area, you can be sure that the Blitz will be back strong next season.

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