Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers Draw Top-Heavy Miami Champions

Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers Draw Top-Heavy Miami Champions

PittsPawngrabbers
PittsPawngrabbers
Mar 8, 2018, 4:18 PM |
0

The performance of an unusually low-rated Pittsburgh roster surprised league commentators, who dubbed Isaac Steincamp "genius of the century" for his roster picks after Pittsburgh led Miami at halftime. Eventually, the rating deficit caught up to them as Miami saved the match 8-8, and with it, their spot in the 2019 PRO Chess League. However, Pittsburgh maintained its lead over St. Louis and Minnesota, who both failed to win last night, and goes into the playoffs 2nd in the Atlantic Division.

The Miami Champions stacked their roster with GMs Eduardo Iturrizaga, Yuniesky Quesada Perez, and Julio Beccera. This didn't intimidate FM Mark Heimann, who made an astounding debut for the Pawngrabbers, showing great cleanup skills against speculative play by GMs Beccera and Quesada to finish 3/4.

 

IM Atulya Shetty, Pittsburgh's perennial Board 3, found himself on Board 1, but showed no signs of nerves as he showed great technique to finish off GM Julio Becerra despite heavy time pressure. As usual, he outperformed his rating with an overall score of 2/4.

To get a result, the Pawngrabbers knew they would have to hammer Miami #4, NM Nicholas Rosenthal, definitely no easy task - Rosenthal is well-known for defeating World #6 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave last year! IM Safal Bora, well aware of Rosenthal's tricks, scored the critical 8th point for Pittsburgh in a tricky pawn-up minor piece ending against the master.

Last but not least, NM Mika Brattain took a more solid route to 2/4, with draws against GM Itturizaga and GM Becerra. The 2665-rated Itturizaga just managed to save his game against Mika:

 

As the match entered its second phase, though, Pittsburgh's 1-point lead narrowed and the Miami Champions found their way to an 8-8 draw, and will remain in the league without having to qualify. The Pawngrabbers, having clinched 2nd in the Atlantic Division behind Webster, will look forward to their first playoff match next week against the St. Louis Archbishops.

- Beilin Li