Week 8 Recap: v. Seattle Sluggers
Apparently the 3.5-0.5 match score has become a trend with our team, as that’s been the score for the last three matches! Fortunately, we were on the victorious side for the two of them, so nothing to complain about! Last week we had a major victory against our closest competitors, the Seattle Sluggers, so now we are in second place and in very good shape to qualify!! This week’s match is going to be against San Francisco Mechanics, who crushed Arizona 4-0 last week. Historically, we don’t have the best score against them, but at least tying this match is going to be crucial for us. We are pretty evenly matched up on all boards, so it should be an interesting match! As always, notes on each game are below.
A really crucial game of the match, as we were really outrated on this board and Gareev is of course a really strong player. But Melik held his own and played a fine game. Timur chose the less popular line in the Slav with 6. Nh4, tried by both Carlsen and Kasparov, and it transposed into an isolated queen pawn position. Melik’s 13…Qb6 is a rare move (13…Na6 is the main move), which resulted in losing a pawn but transposing into an opposite color bishop endgame. This is his second time holding a position down a pawn in opposite color bishop ending (first one was against Quesada), so maybe it’s his specialty by now. The key moment of the game is below:
I was watching Luke play against a Carlsbad structure in a tournament few weeks ago, and I was impressed by his patience and resilience in grinding down his opponent. In this game Black’s troubles began when he took the poison pawn on h2. I like how White reacted coolly and calmly to the attack and didn’t do anything too drastic to destroy his king side. I’m not sure if Black missed 22. Nf1! trapping the queen, but the position already looks really bad. After winning the queen, White won a pretty clean game.
Feng – Duckworth 0:1
I am not sure what happened in the opening, but things got interesting after 14.g4!? trying to open up the position. I don’t like Black’s 18…Nf8 giving up the b6 square. White played ambitiously but not accurately and the key moments are shown in the game below.
Well, the King’s Indian is never boring and this game was no exception! I thought after getting in b5, Black had an amazing position. In fact, instead of 15…Qb6, Black could have played more ambitiously with b4 and after 15. Na4 Nb6, and White’s queen side is very loose. Instead, Black played more natural developing moves but was a little slow, so after move 30 we arrive at a position where Black has a strong passed pawn on c3, but in return White has a good center and a nice blockade of the pawn. Black’s big mistake was 39…Be6, allowing the trades that led into an opposite color bishop position, and we know that opposite color bishops are dangers in attacks. At this point Black’s king was very weak and White took complete advantage of it by collecting all of Black’s pawns. A really nice turn around for us!