GM Anaconda Szabo annotates Dragons vs. Chessbrahs
Week 2 was rivals week, so this time out, the Dragons faced players we knew much better - the Montreal Chessbrahs. Toronto-Montreal chess matches were held on and off for decades with the Chessbrahs' GM Alexandre Lesiege actually playing in one held in Kingston in 1994. Both cities seem to have scored their share of wins.
This week, the Toronto line up featured GM Bator Sambuev and GM Razvan Preotu (pictured above) carrying on their good work from week one, joined by Canada's youth team coach Romanian GM Gergely-Andras-Gyula "the Anaconda" Szabo and Canada's newest IM Michael Song, fresh from his win at the Hart House Holidays Open.
The Chessbrahs were headed by Chinese GM Li Chao, a 2700 player who had swept his first League match 4-0. On board 2 was GM Alexandre Lesiege, who had turned in a banner performance for Canada at the Baku Olympiad in 2016. 3rd board was IM Aman Hambleton, known for his Chessbrahs commentary videos. 4th board was FM Michael Kleinman, originally from Toronto, but now attending McGill University in Montreal.
We got off to a somewhat rickety start as Lesiege managed to uncover a flaw in Gergely's usually thorough opening preparation. Razvan meanwhile was playing his trademark King's Indian against Hambleton. Razvan sacrificed first a pawn and then the exchange, creating a wild position where both kings were exposed.
This evened the score, but unfortunately, Michael Song's Berlin defence proved to be less bulletproof than its reputation against Kleinman. Bator managed to put an end to Li Chao's winning streak by holding him to a draw from the White side of a King's Indian Defence.
Round 2 started promising with Razvan quickly disposing of Kleinman's French defence, and Bator and Lesiege battling it out to a draw. Michael Song allow Hambleton to get a passed a-pawn early on, fought back valiantly, but ultimately succumbed. Gergely showed great pluck in taking on Li Chao in a sharp Benoni where he sacrificed a pawn, and then gained a rook for bishop and two pawns. Gergely tested Li's endgame technique for a long while, but the extra pawn eventually told.
In round 3, Gergely and Kleinman fought to an early draw in a French Winawer. Razvan (like his former coach Gergely) chose the Benoni against Li Chao, and equalized, but then sacrificed a rook missing the refutation. Song also went for a Benoni against Lesiege, but Lesiege refrained from d5, and the position morphed into a Maroczy bind. Song allowed Lesiege to play a deadly knight sac, and lost. Sambuev got a passed pawn against Hambleton, but his king had no entry squares, so he had to settle for a draw.
In round 4, we were faced with the necessity of winning our last four games in order to draw the match. We almost pulled it off in our week 1 match with the Montclair Sopranos. Everyone was keen, so off we went. As usual, Razvan got the ball rolling with some brilliant play against Lesiege.
One down, only three more to go!
Bator went in for a Philidor Hanham against Kleinman.
Two down, two more to go.
Gergely Szabo has kindly provided annotations for his game against Aman Hambleton:
Three down and one to go!
Michael Song intended to play his usual 1.e4 against Li Chao, but his mouse slipped, and suddenly, there was 1.e3 on the board. A shock for them both perhaps. Li gave up the exchange, and then allowed Michael Song a passed pawn. To our astonishment, it almost looked like we would win all four! Unfortunately, instead of clearing a path for his rook to penetrate, Michael played his knight to the centre, giving Li time to capture the passer, and turn the tables again. For the second week running, we'd lost by the smallest of margins. Next week will be different!