As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Is that really IM Angelo Young sporting a tie? Indeed it is, and with him is the rest of the lineup that brought victory to the Blaze in Week 6: (L to R) NM Gopal Menon, GM Mesgen Amanov, and GM Dmitry Gurevich.

FM Ron Young hit the nail on the head earlier in the week when he said that Chicago could just conceivably not win its match with the Baltimore Kingfishers. Young went on to say though,  "ok, I've crawled out just about far enough on that limb. Chicago." And so it was…the Chicago Blaze were victorious yet again with a 2.5-1.5 win over the Kingfishers, extending its record to a remarkable 6-0 and clinched a playoff spot in the process!! Once again there was no shortage of drama and excitement at the North Shore Chess Center .

The big surprise of the evening came early on as NM Gopal Menon upended NM Ian Schoch,  the heavy favorite on Board 4 who came in with a 70 plus point rating advantage, a 3-0 record, and a lot of talk as being a 1st Team USCL Board 4 All Star Candidate. In the match, Menon got seriously down on time but in typical fashion remained cool, calm and collected as he patiently waited for his higher rated opponent to give him an opportunity to strike in this Czech Benoni opening . Some in the crowd thought that happened on move 26 when Schoch shifted his Knight to the e2 square.   7 moves after that Schoch resigned. As IM Jan van der Mortel noted on ICC, "Gopal is a beast on tactics."

On Board 3, Blaze stalwart IM Angelo Young comfortably coasted to victory against NM Jared Defibaugh in a rope-a-dope version of the Kings Indian Defense where he exploited weaknesses on the light squares.  Meanwhile on Board 2, GM Dmitry Gurevich's position against IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat was looking just fine…until it wasn't.  Enkhbat captured the point for the Kingfishers. The final game of the evening to conclude was on Board 1 pitting GM Mesgan Amanov against GM Giorgi Margvelashvli in a semi-nailbiter of a Modern Benoni. In workmanlike fashion, Amanov demonstrated the rough equivalence between a knight and 3 pawns, held the draw, and thus secured the match victory for the red hot Blaze, As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

A further observation: while much has been said this year about the massive fire power on the top boards for the Blaze, the truly astounding accomplishments have occurred on Boards 3 and 4  where team members have won a total of 11 matches and drawn 2 (11.0/12.0  points) , while the team has scored a total of 18.5 points for these first 6 weeks.  Angelo Young has set the pace with 3 wins on Board 3 in as many outings.

And last, but certainly not least, many thanks go out to celebrity TD Maret Thorpe, a driving force on the Illinois chess scene where she wears many a hat.  Maret founded and plays a large part in running the Evanston Chess Club,  the premier community chess club in the Midwest, if not the nation. Maret also does a tremendous job as the Webmistress and Secretary for the Illinois Chess Association. Maret is also a top notch graphic designer and owns her own graphic design consulting firm. Thanks again to Maret.

Next up are the 2nd place San Francisco Mechanics(tied with LA and Dallas), a dangerous team if ever there was one and a perennial league contender. The beat goes on.  And from Skokie, Illinois, that's the way it was………

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