Friday, October 20, 2006

Oy Canada!

The Boston Blitz didn't need to beat New York on Wednesday night and they didn't. Furthermore, should they meet the Knights again in the US Chess League playoffs, they won't have to beat them then either.

Boston's draw with New York combined with Baltimore's 0-4(!) loss to Dallas guarantees the Blitz the top seed in the East with two weeks to go. With Boston the only team in the Eastern Division with a winning record, it is very likely that at least one team with a losing record will make the playoffs. This seems a sufficient indictment of the decision to invite 60% of the league to participate in the post season tournament (not to mention the inevitable comparisons to the NHL).

A drawn match is likely to generate similar amounts of good and bad news, and that's certainly the case here. Let's start with the bad:
  • Boston simply has no answer for Pascal. GM or IM, Black or White, Baltimore or New York -- Charbonneau wins, Blitz lose. GM Perelshteyn's Alekhine's Defense was no solution. And beating up his girlfriend on board 2 isn't likely to help either.

  • While he's had an excellent season so far, against the Knights we caught a glimpse of the 2005 version of Ilya Krasik -- a reasonable position blundered away. We'll all be looking for a reversion to his 2006 self starting next week.
And now for the good:
  • I never fail to appreciate how well IM Foygel plays -- few flashy tactics or daring attacks, just one solid, strong move after another. Take a look again at his game with IM Krush. While she didn't seem out of it until the end, in retrospect she never seemed in it at all.

  • Charles Riordan surely has ice water in his veins. He doesn't even bear down and get serious until he's under five minutes on the clock. How many people play better with time pressure than without it? With the Blitz losing 2-1, Charles convincingly outplayed IM Bonin in what certainly appeared to be an equal endgame.
With the division crown clinched, Boston has some interesting decisions to make in the next couple of weeks. Take it easy and cruise the rest of the way in or play hard and maintain the momentum? With matches against division foes Carolina and Baltimore coming up, their choice could have a significant impact on who captures the remaining playoff berths. You didn't hear it here... but if both opponents were to do well over the next two weeks, New York might find themselves on the outside looking in. That might be one solution to Boston's pesky Pascal problem.

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