Friday, November 03, 2006

Blitz sink Baltimore's playoff hopes

Apparently controlling your own destiny isn't all it's cracked up to be. Baltimore just needed not to lose to secure a place in the US Chess League post season tournament but couldn't find a way to do so against a GM-less Boston lineup. Carolina, on the other hand, needed a specific series of events as improbable as coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in a seven game series in order to qualify. Guess who's playing next week.

The match turned out to be fairly meaningless for the Blitz. New York qualified for the playoffs by drawing with Philadelphia, so another encounter with Boston's Canadian nemesis may await. And San Francisco's draw gave the good guys no chance to secure color choice in a potential Championship match. Nevertheless, if one takes the time to sit down at the board they might as well try to win. To the Kingfisher's chagrin, that's just what the Blitz did.

On Board 1 GM Blehm won a pawn though IM Foygel managed to simplify to a 4 vs. 3 pawn rook ending with all the pawns on one side. One might have thought that the position offered reasonable drawing chances (considering the old "all rook endings are drawn" cliche) but the GM actually dispatched the IM quite easily.

At the other end of the virtual table NM Martirosov was also up a pawn in a rook ending with all pawns on the same side. However in his case it was 2 vs. 1 and winning chances were virtually nil. WGM Rohonyan showed some flair by ending the game with a rook sacrifice that led directly to stalemate.

Martirosov-Rohonyan after 53.Re7Katerina ends the discussion with 53...Rf4+!

The match was won on the middle boards. FM Kelleher has quietly put together a very nice season with the Blitz. This time he broke through on the Kingside against FM Enkhbat's Caro-Kann and won easily when his opponent overlooked a mate (to be fair, Bill's position was much better at the time). As for NM Riordan, he played a crazy game against IM Kaufman. When he had to give up the exchange on f4, many thought Charles was losing. But then in response to a knight check Larry moved his King towards the center and suddenly White's pieces starting falling everywhere.

Kaufman-Riordan after 31...Nd3+Although Black is down an exchange for a pawn, he is actually
much better. Charles went on to win after 32.Kc3 Re3.

The 2.5-1.5 win was a nice way to end a very successful regular season for the Blitz. Baltimore, on the other hand, is left to ponder their fall from last year's heights.

Next week New York and Carolina will face off to see who will get to take on Boston in the Eastern Division Finals. However, around here we'll be focusing on more important things, like the final round of the 2006 Boylston Chess Club Championship and possible lineups for Round 2 of the playoffs.

Two GMs or not two GMs, that is the question.

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