IM Noritsyn annotates Dragons vs. Sopranos Pro Chess League
It was a match of ups and downs. This was the first time Toronto had ever fielded a team in a worldwide chess league of this nature. None of us knew quite what to expect. Our players were masters with wide-ranging over-the-board tournament experience. GM Bator Sambuev studied chess teaching at the same university as Evgeny Bareev, Alexander Morozevich and Alexander Grischuk before immigrating to Canada, and becoming one of our most active tournament players. GM Razvan Preotu had shot up the ranking list till he was the number one player in the country under 18, number 3 overall. IM Nikolay Noritsyn had won provincial and city championships numerous times. GM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon was a veteran of Canada's Olympiad team where he'd chalked up wins against the world's best. We were probably the only team in the League with a grandmaster playing 4th board.
Our first round opponent, the Montclair Sopranos, had a Canadian on board, GM Pascal Charbonneau, so that was familiar. Yet the formidable Alex Lenderman had suddenly appeared on the Sopranos' board 1. Bator had beaten Lenderman the last time they met, but could he do it again?
The Dragons won the first round 2.5-1.5 thanks to big wins by GM Razvan Preotu and GM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon, and a see-saw draw in the Bator Sambuev-Lenderman face off. The next two rounds brought disappointment though, as the only player we seemed able to beat was their fourth board, Dan Smith Holla, the only untitled player on either team.
After the third round ended, we did the math. In the fourth and final round, we needed to win all four games in order to win the match. We were pumped. It seemed possible. The games started, and we were off and running.
Sambuev beat Smith easily enough. Then, our rising star Preotu handed Charbonneau his first defeat of the match. Our eyes turned to the game between IM Nikolay Noritsyn and GM Marc Arnold, and what a position it was! Arnold's kingside had been blown to bits with pieces scattered all over the board. Nikolay annotates this emotion fraught encounter.
We won! The team went wild. Three games down with just one more needed to win the match!
Stayed tuned for more annotated games from this epic clash.
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