Friday, October 06, 2006

All good things must come to an end

With two GMs on the roster the Boston Blitz are, if nothing else, a top-heavy team. Therefore, as a general rule, they look to score strongly on the upper boards and then put away matches when one or the other of their lower boards plays well. While there have been exceptions, this is largely the recipe the Blitz have used in jumping out to a 5-0 start in the 2006 US Chess League season. Given this, it should come as no surprise that Boston's first loss of the year (against the Baltimore Kingfishers) came on the same night that they scored 0-2 on the top two boards.

Too bad really, as I had already been thinking of some nice plays on words (names, actually) to describe the team's victory. For example ... GM Christiansen had a cold and began the game somewhat congested, but by the end of night he had managed to cough up the offending Blehm ... or ... Stevie picked on Bruci in the playground. Unfortunately, when it was over, Larry had died of asphyxiation and it was Steven who was lying unconscious in the sandbox covered in blood.

FM Winer fell first to FM Lopez and it was a massacre. I'm not sure whether Winer walked into preparation, but it turns out that the first 20 moves had been played before in a correspondence game (Nordfjord-Klausen, Nordic Cup T 3rd B17 corr, 1997). Black's position is just hopeless.

Lopez-Winer after 20.Qg3

The next game to finish, my favorite of the night, was FM Kelleher vs. IM Kaufman. After 17 moves, the average player might have taken a superficial look and thought the position was = or +/= (equal material, opposite color bishops, passed IQP for Black, lead in development for White). Nothing could have been further from the truth. Kelleher demonstrated model play for the position; his moves and plans were simple, straightforward, clear (even to me) and deadly. I can't wait to get a similar position in one of my games.

Kelleher-Kaufman after 17.Qxd4

On Board 4, Krasik's rematch with WGM Rohonyan produced an exciting, fighting draw. Ilya continued to show disdain for his rooks, this time sacrificing the exchange for attacking chances. A few moves later, Katerina annexed a pawn but this allowed Krasik to draw by perpetual check. I'm interested to hear whether the post-mortem found any way for Ilya to continue the attack.

Rohonyan-Krasik after 16.Bd2
Ilya says goodbye to his Rook, then takes on c4

With the match tied at 1.5 each, most Blitz fans were probably feeling good about their chances. Larry might not win, but surely he wouldn't lose. Well, I'm sorry to say that there's just no point in betting against JG's predictions -- if he says you're going to lose, then you will. The Commissioner called the GM Christiansen-GM Blehm encounter a "wild game", so don't expect any great insight from me. I will mention a couple of moves that had the gallery in a frenzy and you can check them out for yourself. Several kibitzers thought that 19...Nxa3 (instead of Bd7) was better for Black and many claimed that 28.Ba3 (instead of Bb2) would have kept White ahead.

Christiansen-Blehm after 27...Bxa5
Was 28.Ba3 better than Bb2?

So Boston's undefeated season is history. The good news is that their 5-1 record still leaves them two points ahead of both Baltimore and New York in the Eastern Division. And, the schedulers were kind as well, offering up the winless Tennessee Tempo in Week 7.

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