Friday, October 13, 2006

Same old story - Blitz win, Tempo lose

Tennessee, Tennessee
There ain't no team we'd rather see
Shahade, thanks for schedulin' the B's
against Tennessee

[To the tune of "Tennessee Jed" as performed by The Grateful Dead]

It's not unusual for an expansion team to have difficulties during their first year in a league, but it's still hard to fathom the Tempo's malaise. After all, the US Chess League's maximum average rating rule is intended to make the matches competitive and bring some level of parity to the league. Sure, Tennessee can't trot out two GMs like the Blitz can, but they did bring an average team rating of 2332 into Wednesday's match.

For a season and a half Philadelphia has been fielding teams with 100-150 point average rating deficits and while they haven't been a playoff contender, they've won several matches and kept most of the others close. Not Tennessee -- they lose 4-0, 3.5-0.5 and 3-1 regularly and they never ever win. It's as if 2300 doesn't mean the same thing in Tennessee that it does in the rest of the country.

Now before the Northerners start spouting the ridiculous stereotypes about the South that they still teach in our public schools, stop and think for a minute. As someone who lived down South for several years (not that far from Tennessee, in fact), I can assure you that they have chess clubs, tournaments, computers and even high-speed internet access just like you and me. And they have cars too, so it's not as if they only play tournament games against other Tennesseans.

Frankly, I'm at a loss to explain what's really going on. So instead, I'll just present the facts -- positions from this week's match between the Blitz and the Tempo.

Board 1. IM Burnett-GM Christiansen after 31...Rh5

White to play and lose a pawn

Board 3. FM Bereolos-NM Riordan after 16.Ncb1

Black gained the upper hand right out of the opening

Board 4. NM Krasik-NM Wheeler after 27.Rb1?

Black misses an opportunity to stay in the game

In the interest of completeness, here is a link to the draw on Board 2, FM Kelleher-FM Andrews.

Needless to say, Boston won the match in a rout 3.5-0.5. More importantly, they lengthened their overall lead in the standings over both Baltimore (who drew with Philadelphia) and New York (who lost to Carolina). As a result, the Blitz have all but locked up 1st place in the Eastern Division. Dare we start discussing lineups for the playoffs?

Board 1. In this ostensibly equal position, White played 32.Qg2? allowing 32...Rxh4+. If gxh4, then Qxh4+ followed by Qxe1. Burnett lost a few moves later.

Board 4. 27...Kf7! 28.Kh1 (if 28.Rxb7?? then Black has a mate in 3 beginning with Rg8+) 28...Rg8 29.Rg1 Rxg1+ 30.Qxg1 Bg2+! 31.Qxg2 Qxb1+ 32.Nxb1 Rxb1+ 33.Qg1 Rxg1+ 34.Kxg1 Nxd5 with excellent chances to draw the ending.

No comments: