Week 9 Review: Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Connecticut Dreadnoughts
Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Connecticut Dreadnoughts 0.5-3.5
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2610) - GM Mikheil Kekelidze (2576) 0.5-0.5 View Games
GM Larry Kaufman (2401) - IM Justin Sarkar (2512) 0-1 View Games
NM Jared Defibaugh (2297) - FM Leif Pressman (2374) 0-1 View Games
FM Ralph Zimmer (2244) - Jason Shi (2173) 0-1 View Games
Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.
The Baltimore Kingfishers lost to the Connecticut Dreadnoughts by a dreadful 3.5-0.5 score. That leaves Baltimore out of the playoffs this year with the New England Nor'easters (6.5-2.5, 1st) and Connecticut Dreadnoughts (6.0-3.0, 2nd) clinching the top 2 spots in the Northeast Division. Those two teams will battle next week to determine playoff seeding and the oft-important draw odds when they meet again in the Quarterfinals. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Kingfishers (3.5-5.5, 4th) will face the Boston Blitz (3.5-5.5, 3rd) to determine third place in the division.
Also, there was an unusual circumstance on board 3. Baltimore's player NM Jared Defibaugh was granted permission by the league to play from his home as his neighborhood was undergoing a police search for a man who shot an officer. Thankfully, the suspect has been caught, but that did not happen until the day after the match. Read more about the news story at: CBS Baltimore News.
Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. GM Mikheil Kekelidze. The top board showcased a Ruy Lopez: Open Berlin Defense, Rosenthal Variation. NM Niclas Huschenbeth played the novelty 12. g4 that proved quite risky as GM Mikheil Kekelidze was able to open the h-file to threaten the white king. It looked like white was in dire straits but somehow the white king found himself relatively safe back towards the center back rank and found himself up a knight for some pawns with queens and rooks still on the board. White seemed to have gained the upper hand and forced trades of the rooks and queens. It was a white knight and 2 pawns vs. 5 pawns for black, yet it was black who seemed to be pushing for a win again. However, white's king and knight were up to the task of blockading though no more as the game was drawn by 3-fold repetition after 64 moves.
Board 2: IM Justin Sarkar vs. GM Larry Kaufman. The second board featured a Nimzo-Indian Defense: Botvinnik System. IM Justin Sarkar played the novelty 13. Bb2 and GM Larry Kaufman responded with the very ambitious 13... e5!? intending a knight sacrifice. However, in what turned out to be the critical moment of the game, he slipped with 19... Ba6? 20. c4 Bxc4 allowing a nifty tactic that loses his queen. GM Kaufman saw the tactic immediately after playing Bxc4, and unfortunately, so did his opponent. Black resigned in 28 moves. There were some interesting possible lines in the critical position. Check them out in the board analysis!
Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. FM Leif Pressman. The third board began as a Sicilian Defense with the relatively rare variation 2. Nf3 e6 3. b3. NM Jared Defibaugh played the novelty 10. Nc3. The moves 10. Na3 (7 White wins, 13 Draws, 2 Black wins) and 10. d4 (1 White win, 2 Draws) have been played previously. White tried to create an attack on the kingside, but FM Leif Pressman thwarted that plan by forcing a queen trade. Black quickly gained a space advantage as the white rooks had no clear targets. Black won a pawn and then a rook as white tried to keep chances on the board. White resigned after 47 moves.
Board 4: Jason Shi vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. The fourth board saw a Benko Gambit played. Jason Shi played the novelty 8. e5. Surprisingly, white had always played 8. Bxc4 (1 White win, 1 Draw, 6 Black wins) each time this position was reached. FM Zimmer appeared to be allowing white to gain space in the center perhaps anticipating that white would overextend himself. White did march his pawn to e6, but black missed some chances to create an unbalanced position. White gradually gained an advantage using his more mobile pieces. Black resigned on move 42.