Dragons topple League-leading Towers with brilliancies from Razvan & Bindi
OK, truth to be told, we were a bit apprehensive about this one. The London Towers were leading the whole League in the number of games won (we were back in 4th place tied with Marseille). Britain has an annual Rapidplay championship which the Towers' GM Gawain Jones has won once, IM Ameet Ghasi has won twice, and GM Keith Arkell has won once. Toronto has a few Rapid events, most notably Chess To Remember and the GTCL Cup, but no national championship. Also, these players' ECF Rapidplay ratings were sky high. Still, we'd finally found our form, and could field a strong line up of our own. IM Nikolay Noritsyn had played himself into excellent form. GM Bator Sambuev had proven he could go toe-to-toe with the world's best, drawing with Li Chao week 2. IM Bindi Cheng (pictured above) had been showing off his unique talent for sudden mating attacks like a bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky. Our strongest performer, young GM Razvan Preotu was back after a brief hiatus.
IM Peter Roberson of the Towers opened with a Sicilian Alapin, saddling himself with an isolated queen's pawn, and allowing Razvan's queen to assume centre stage. Roberson lost one pawn to a desperado bishop, and then his IQP fell. He won back a rook, but soon Razvan had a mating attack, and it was game over.
Meanwhile Bindi was facing off against their top board:
Bator gave up a bishop for 3 pawns vs. IM Thomas Rendle, but his king was so active that Rendle resigned. Ameet Ghasi advanced the pawns in front of his king, trying to checkmate Nikolay, but when the dust had settled Nikolay was up a passed pawn, and queened first. Round 1 had finished, and we were up 4-0! That is how we roll, folks. That is how we roll.
Round 2 started, and Razvan wasted no time.
5-0!! Against the team with the most wins in the League!!
Nikolay was winning against Gawain Jones, but an overly ambitious sacrifice of the exchange went awry, and soon Nikolay had to give up a rook to stop Jones' passers. Bindi gave up a piece for four pawns, and looked winning, but had trouble deciding which of his passers to advance, and lost on time. Bator secured a large advantage against Rendle, even getting in a beautiful rook sac, but Rendle was wise this time, and didn't take it. The game ended in a draw. 5.5-2.5! Still in the driver's seat.
In round 3, Razvan had what looked to be a winning attack against Gawain Jones' favourite Dragon, but he hesitated to offer a queen trade, and Jones caught him in a mating net. The Towers brought in IM Simon Ansell to spell his tired team mates. His game with Nikolay seesawed back and forth with both sides pushing passers, but Nikolay managed to gobble up Ansell's last pawn, and queen his own. Bator ended up with bishop and knight vs. Ghasi's rook, but in an effort to win, sent his king away from his pawns, and lost.
GM Keith Arkell was the other player they'd brought in to spell their openers. Nikolay and Bindi had played him before, and knew him to be incredibly solid. Bindi pressed for a win, but Arkell penetrated with his queen, and the game ended up a draw. 7-5. Still leading.
In round 4, Nikolay faced off against Arkell.
Picking up another GM scalp and assuring us at least a draw in the match. Seeing this, Bindi playing White against Ansell, traded down to a draw securing our win in the match. Ghasi had been trying to mate all four of our players, and finally against Razvan, he struck pay dirt, cracking open the Black king's pawn cover. Bator locked pawn chains hinting at a draw with Gawain Jones, but then got ambitious, and sacrificed his d-pawn, only to get punished. Anyway, 8.5-7.5 was a win. We'd done it.
Wednesday February 15th at 6:35 p.m. EST (3:35 p.m. Pacific Time), we face off against the Patagonia Penguins from Argentina. Come watch - more exciting chess in store.
Join the Toronto Dragons Fan Club on chess.com to catch all the latest.