Chicago Blaze Game of the Week-Extended Edition
[Note: The Chicago Blaze lost their second match in a row last night, this time falling to the Arizona Scorpions 2.5-1.5. Tean annotator NM Jeremy Kane has this report on the games.]
By NM Jeremy Kane
I apologize to the thousands of Blaze fans out there for my inability to come up with a Game of the Week last week. Not only was it the first week where the Blaze failed to win a game, it also brought the team’s season score in games I personally attended to 0.5/3, in comparison to their score of 4/4 the rest of the season. So, this week I kept safely away from the action, huddled up in my apartment on the other side of town, not even remembering about the match until the middle games were well underway.
The first thing I noticed was that Gauri had a great game on board 4. The clever 9. Bg5 and 10. Bxe7 reached a better good bishop vs. bad bishop situation, while the timely 13. Qa4+ and 14. Rc1 gained an enormous lead in development. By move 18 white had completed his development while black’s king sat exposed on f8 with both rooks still in the corners.
Position after move black’s 19th move g5, game continued 20. Rf1
Although 20. Rxf6 looked like a quick knockout the result on this board was never really in doubt and Gauri eventually picked off a pawn and cruised to the first victory in the match. Although the other boards looked difficult this was just the excitement boost I needed to put off doing dishes or homework for a while longer.
The next game to reach its conclusion was the contest between IMs Young and Adama. I have a personal policy of avoiding comments on Angelo’s games. I have nothing against the man. He’s a great player with lots of creative chess ideas and he has had some fantastic results in the USCL. It’s just that I never have any idea what is going on in any of his games. I had the pleasure of playing him in a tournament for the first time earlier this year and at no point in the game that I was seriously lucky to draw could I predict what my opponent was doing. As usual Angelo spent his time creating an interesting and unbalanced opening position where I had no idea who was better or what the plans were for either side. However, apparently Adama had some idea and won impressively, with a series of strong moves such as 27… e3 and especially 34…Bxd4. Angelo fought hard but ended up down four pawns in a rook endgame and eventually resigned.
At this point in the evening I was ready to give up and get to work because both board one looked headed for a lost endgame and board three was suffering from tripled f-pawns against a passed white pawn on d5. However, recently retired (if only we all had such successful retirements) IM Sam Shankland, apparently seeing far more deeply into the positions than either me or Rybka, guaranteed that Chicago still had fine chances in the match, so I kept watching, glued to the computer and surrounded by dirty dishes.
Fortunately, Sam turned out to be genius. On board one, Mesgan pulled his way out of a position where the opponent was up two pawns with a rook on the 7th into a position down one pawn with a rook on the 7th and then a position with a approximately equal activity where it looked like just a matter of time before we would be congratulating him on a miraculous save. As this was happening IM Adamson was having connection problems in time trouble and seemed to be getting frustrated. Despite board 1 becoming competitive and seemingly in control Adamson offered a draw which in the single most brilliant move of the match Arjun declined. Most likely he didn’t realize that board one was looking drawish or maybe he realized that he would have to win because moments later our board 1 ruined brilliant defensive play with a last second tactical oversight as 53. Rxf6 suddenly left black down a piece for nothing.
Altounian-Amanov right after black’s 52nd… Rxb4? in time pressure. White’s 53rd Rxf6!
OK, so now it was getting late and the best we could do was draw the match, which considering that the position appeared lost all evening seemed a somewhat tall task. Yet, mutual time trouble can be a beautiful thing when you’re hoping for an inspired result and on cue the position started to turn in Chicago’s favor. Between moves 30 and 41 Arjun’s knight managed to complete an inspired raid into the white position and take part in the capture of the three pawns on the queenside. Suddenly the passed d-pawn which had made its way to d7 was balanced out by connected pawns on b7 and a6 and anything could happen. By move 52 the d-pawn was gone and it was black up a pawn and I was ready to believe that Sam had mob connections and was somehow rigging the match in our favor.
Adamson – Visnuvardhan Black to move.
The key position occurred on move 72 and black is winning, but both sides were playing on increment, and the win is complicated, but available with accurate play. The key line goes 72. Nf1+, Ke2. 73. Ng3+, Kf2! 74. Rxd3 b2 75.Ne4+ Rxe4 76. Rd2+ Re2 and black will win. 75 Rd1 also wins for black after Kxg3, Rb1 and Rc4! With mate to follow. Unfortunately, the game ended after a repetition of moves starting with the king returning to d2 instead of f2. In the end the Blaze lost the match by the narrowest of margins, 2.5-1.5 to drop to 4.5-3.5 and fail to overtake the Scorpions for first place in the West. Meanwhile I wasted the rest of my evening writing this article. Oh well. Hopefully the Blaze can get back to their winning ways next week against the Miami Sharks and with any luck my professors are all huge USCL fans who will accept this blog instead of the assigned work.