Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We don't care about no stinkin' ratings

If someone told me before Monday night's US Chess League match between the Boston Blitz and the New York Knights that GM Charbonneau was going to beat GM Christiansen again with the Black pieces, I would have told them that Boston had no chance to win the match. I would have been wrong. While most of the names and faces on this year's team are the same as 2005, the 2006 edition of the Blitz bears no resemblance to its predecessor. Last year's team often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; this year, they refuse to lose (or even draw for that matter).

Christiansen's loss on Board 1 turned out to be of no consequence, as the Blitz rolled up wins on all three other boards. While this was of no surprise on Board 2 with GM Perelshteyn holding a significant rating advantage over his opponent, I don't think anybody expected the Blitz to go 2-0 on the lower boards where they were facing rating disadvantages. Boston's team manager Matt Phelps has been saying for awhile that he has underrated players on the lower boards. This match will undoubtedly be Exhibit #1 when he lays out his case. For Vadim Martirosov, this makes him 2-0 for the season against higher rated opposition on Board 3; none of his future opponents will be taking him lightly.

Since I didn't get to watch the match live, I don't know in what order the games were completed or whether there were any other interesting dynamics or events which occurred outside the moves themselves. As such, I'm offering links to games below with relatively brief commentary. If you are looking for more, Globular has promised an insider's report in the near future.

Board 1: GM Christiansen-GM Charbonneau 0-1

A Sicilian in which Black seemed to equalize quite quickly. Black won White's e-pawn on move 24 and nursed his extra pawn all the way to victory in a Bishop and Pawn ending.

Board 2: FM Hess-GM Perelshteyn 0-1

A King's Indian where White seemed to develop his Knights rather passively (on d2 and e2). Black applied Kingside pressure, opened up White's King position and finished things off nicely with a Rook sacrifice.

Board 3: NM Martirosov-NM Molner 1-0

A Pirc which looked a lot like a hedgehog by move 11. White blasted away in the center, won an exchange with a nice combination and used the extra material to win an endgame.

Board 4: FM Privman-NM Krasik 0-1

A Saemisch King's Indian in which White won (Black sacrificed?) a pawn on move 14. White then seemed to make an error by castling queenside into a ready made attack. Black won his pawn back and then offered a rook sacrifice, 17...Rxe4, which White declined (what would have happened after 18.fxe4?). After an exchange of Queens, Black was able to bring strong pressure to bear on a backward pawn on the half-open b-file. The game reached a rook ending where Black had the further outside passed pawn. Whether it was a won position or not I'm not sure, but 45.c5 was definitely a bad move which gave Black a clear winning plan.

So, Boston defeated New York 3-1 and is now 3-0 to start the season. Next victim: Philadelphia (a rematch of week 2)
Those of you who read the USCL website are probably aware that they have correspondents who try to predict the results in advance. What you may not know, is that the chess blogosphere offers an independent prognosticator. See how JG stacks up against his "official" competitors.

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