T E A M!
(Beat reporter: Mark LaRocca)
The Blitz’s hopes for a confluence of fortunate events were thwarted by the Baltimore Kingfishers in a match which I can only call courageous on both sides. Each team needed a win to have even a slight chance to make the playoffs, and both sides pulled out all the stops, leaving no pawn unturned, no chance untaken. Call it a match of desperation if you will, but, I call it a demonstration of what it means to be a Team. Congratulations to the Kingfishers as they were the eventual winners, Boston (1.5 – 2.5). However, there were no losers in this match. I, for one, was very proud to witness this struggle, and can only offer my personal congratulations to each of the Blitz team members, who simply refused to draw this match and struggled to the last in a wonderful display of TEAM.
As usual, I have analyzed the games, but, this doesn’t tell the full story. This night was more than just moves on a board, it was two teams facing playoff elimination as if it were something more than a just a game. It was clear from the start what it meant to each team and each member of the Blitz. And so, I will start with a picture from each game that I feel shows the spirit of this match.
It all began on a good note for the Blitz as Chris Williams, on board 3, faced his long-time friend Alex Barnett in a very sharp encounter. Often, when two friends play, you can expect a safe easy draw since they know each other’s game so well. Not so in this one as FM Barnett took Chris on in a line which he certainly understood that Chris knew well. “Hit me with your best shot” was the mantra here and we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of our first moment of the match. What’s the best move?
White's Knight must run away?
But, this was not the last exciting moment in this one. Let’s take a look at our second game highlight. I call it a knockout blow that sent his opponent reeling. Can you see it?
White delivers a crushing best move!
After the match, Chris called his opponent and friend, both to congratulate and console. A nice gesture, which I was privileged to witness.
Next up, on board 4, was our team leader and manager, Ilya Krasik. Ilya has not been on his game this season, but that didn’t stop him from essaying a very nice sacrifice. Rather than passively accept White’s dominating space advantage, he challenged his opponent, Andrew Zheng, with the following best move in this position. Give it a try. What would you play here?
Black to move and not the Knight!
Ilya had his chances in this one. You can fault him for missing some better moves, but, you can’t fault him for lack of nerve. Unfortunately, heroes often fail in real life, and heroic efforts thereby go unnoticed. Can I get a thumbs up for a losing effort?... Naahhh!
Now that my regular insult to Ilya is in… I want to move on to our Board 1 draw, as Steven Zierk met his opponent’s “mate me or die” Sicilian Dragon with a “no, you mate me or die” attack… which, of course, led to an endgame… go figure. Kudos to the Kingfishers’ top board, Akshayraj Kore, for going for the gusto. I very much enjoyed this game. And just to give a picture of the fighting spirit, take a look at this declined draw by GM Kore.
Black to move and not make a perpetual!
Steven was a bit depressed when he found himself victim of this perpetual. But, when GM Kore played …e2, he pumped his fist and took the game to his opponent. This is the reason that I show up to watch chess matches. To witness the players’ feelings, something you can’t know over the internet. If you were there, you felt the courage on both sides in this fighting draw.
This left us with Denys, on board 2 vs Levan Bregadze, needing a win for the Blitz to have a chance for the playoffs. A draw, meant a lost season, so there were no options, it was win or die. There is only one moment in this game that I would like to show you, and it is the last penultimate moment. But, this diagram exemplifies team chess at its best. Black to move and lose in a dead drawn position… What would you play?
Black to Move and Lose!
Any other move (just about) meant a certain match/game draw and the season’s end. Denys chose the only move that might allow White to blunder… but, more likely, meant a certain loss. Now, you might say this was a time pressure blunder; but, I know it wasn’t. He simply saw that other moves meant draw and just quickly made the only move he could. A brave sacrifice or a blunder? You know what side I’m on.
Thanks to all the Blitz team members for providing me with some eventful memories. I will be there for the last, anticlimactic, match. How about you? Or, will you expect to get the full team experience by watching on ICC. No, you won’t, and you can’t. Be there! Show the Blitz your team spirit. They deserve it.
And, for the last time this season, here is the way it will go.
|New Jersey Knockouts (6.0 - 3.0)||vs||Boston Blitz (2.5 - 6.5)|
All Time Series Record: (Boston leads 4.5 - 3.5)
Starts at 7:10 PM EST, Tuesday, Oct 28
59 Shepard st. Cambridge, MA., SOCH building, Harvard University
|New Jersey Knockouts||Boston Blitz|
|GM Alex Stripunsky: 2656||0.5||0.5||IM Steven Zierk: 2543|
|GM Joel Benjamin: 2634||0.5||0.5||FM Denys Shmelov: 2473|
|NM John Michael Burke: 2295||0.5||0.5||NM Vadim Martirosov: 2381|
|Aaron Jacobson: 2139||0||1||William Collins: 2122|
|Average Rating: 2431||Average Rating: 2380|
|New Jersey Total||1.5||2.5||Boston Total|
Oh yeah… Here’s the game analysis from week 9.