Seattle Sluggers down but not Out
Wednesday’s match, pitting the mighty Seattle Sluggers against The Los Angeles Vibe, might not have ended well for the Sluggers or their diehard fans but our Sluggers are known for their courageous comebacks! Unfortunately, IM Georgi Orlov’s brilliant board one victory over NM Melik wasn’t enough to secure a team victory over the L.A. Vibe. Things became problematic on boards two and three, with the Vibe’s IM Amanov and WGM Abrahamian turning up the heat with two solid wins over Seattle. Board four found the Vibe’s NM Mike Zalozney’s fighting it out against our own Slugger NM Roland Feng, with the game eventually ending in a draw (Rook and Pawn versus Queen Endgame). Don’t fret fans of the Seattle Sluggers, there’s still plenty of fight to be found in Seattle’s best!
Seattle is now tied with Los Angeles for second place in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division with 3.5/8 game points each. San Francisco’s Mechanics are first place in the division with 6.5/8 game points. However, the season isn’t over and the Seattle Sluggers know just what they’ll have to do. The road to victory may be paved with potential obstacles but Seattle is a team that knows how to navigate through the unforeseen and get the job done.
Board one was a fascinating study in piece coordination and sacrifice with Orlov playing brilliantly. This is a game you’ll want to play through five or six times! There is so much going on within the game’s 55 moves that five or six blogs could be dedicated to this game alone! In fact, I’ve left the analytical commentary open? Why? Because I want to know what you think! Therefore, I ask you to comment on what you consider to be the key points in the two games posted here! Remember, this is a team sport and this blog is a team effort (successful only with your commentary)!
We’ll start with board one and the beautiful and brilliant game it produced. I think you’ll agree that The Seattle Slugger’s own IM Georgi Orlov took early control of the game and maintained it throughout. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the moves leading up to 19.cxb4, where Black gives up the Rook on b4. The game itself is interesting in that White creates a fierce pawn center with 4.f4. However, maintaining such a pawn position (pawns on d4, e4 and f4) can be a bit of a tightrope act in which White must maintain a careful balance or face positional freefall. Orlov demonstrates great timing in the creation of his defensive position, making it difficult for White to launch a fast attack (let alone find strong and lasting outposts)!
In the other game presented here, we see NM Roland Feng’s drawn game against the Vibe’s NM Mike Zalozney. Feng plays the Queen’s Gambit which is promptly declined by NM Zalozney. It looked like NM Feng was going to have some problems after 7…Ne4, essentially trapping his dark squared Bishop. After 9.hxg3, NM Feng inherited doubled pawns on the g file but this didn’t stop him from playing well! NM Feng did a fantastic job closing the position down, keeping Black from gaining control of many key squares later in the game. Of course, we’ll unravel the key points to many of the positions once you add your thoughts regarding this extremely interesting game! 14…Qxb2 might shake up some players but NM Feng employed the simple idea of Castling to protect his Rook on a1 (as well as activating the h8 Rook. It’s this type of clear concise thinking that separates the best from the rest!
Of course, this is another example of a game that could be broken down in detail over five or six blogs! As it was, the game quickly turned into a hard fought battle during the Endgame phase. As most of you know, the Endgame is often the most difficult of waters to navigate through. However, NM Feng shows us the merits of strong Endgame knowledge (even though the game ended in a draw). 24.Ne5 kicked off a clear example of calm cool control of the Endgame, with NM Feng stopping NM Mike Zalozney’s attempt to dominate the rest of the game! While the game ended in a draw, it was still a great example of solid play. Again, please add your commentary to this post and let your Seattle Sluggers know what you thought about their games and the many exciting and brilliant positions reached within them. Until next time, let’s support those mighty Sluggers and nothing says support better then well thought out commentary from their fans!