I'll get right to it: the Blaze narrowly lost its first match of the season, 1.5-2.5 to Miami this past Monday night. While this was the first defeat of the season for the Blaze, now 8-1, a discomforting sense of deja vu hovered over the North Shore Chess Center. Then it struck me– Monday Night … heading into the match undefeated…losing to Miami — and suddenly I was transported back to 1985— the undefeated Chicago Bears battling the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night football. Then too, disappointment prevailed as the Monsters of the Midway came up on the short end. After that, the team had no choice but to Bear Down.
While there is no crying (or excuse making) in chess, a couple of mitigating factors need to be kept in mind about the match with our Sharky opponents. First and foremost, Blaze super-manager and main photographer, Jae Lim, missed his very first match of the season due to a scheduling conflict. And if Jae's absence wasn't enough to shake things up, Blaze team members were also subject to a significant time penalties across the board. Each Shark started with an 18 minute time advantage over his Blaze opponent, 84 minutes to 66.
Even though the Blaze entered the match with their backs against the wall, they fought valiantly. Sam Schmakel was the first to finish on Board 4 with a beautiful victory against Nick Rosenthal. Sam is now 4-0 in this his USCL rookie season. Next, Angelo Young drew Eric Rodriguez on Board 2. Unfortunately though, USCL studs Julio Becerra and Jorge Pelaez outlasted Josh Friedel and Eric Rosen on Boards 1 and 3 respectively. All game results can be viewed here.
Thanks again to celebrity TD Mike Cardinele for keeping the house in order. Also, a special thanks goes out to Howard Meyer, Executive Director of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce for being on hand to push the first pawn– although in this case, it was lifting the first Knight.
The Blaze (with Jae's return) will seek to get back on track in their season finale next Monday evening against the always tough Arizona Scorpions who desperately need a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. And for those of you youngsters out there who wonder what eventually happened back in '85; Miami was shot down in the playoffs, while Chicago won the remainder of their regular season games, dominated in the playoffs, and won the Championship. Stay tuned…and Bear Down Chicago Blaze!!