Archives

2011
  • November 20, 2011 || Board 1: GM Mesgen Amanov vs GM Giorgi Kacheishvili
    Live blogging the U.S. Chess League Finals.
  • November 20, 2011 || Board 2: IM Irina Krush vs. GM Dmitry Gurevich
    Live blogging the U.S. Chess League Finals.
  • November 20, 2011 || Board 3: IM Angelo Young vs. SM Matt Herman
    Live blogging the U.S. Chess League Finals.
  • November 20, 2011 || Board 4: John Fernandez vs. NM Gopal Menon
    Live blogging the U.S. Chess League Finals.
  • November 20, 2011 || Back Rank Regrets
    Trevor analyzes GM Dmitry Gurevich's victory in last week's match.
  • November 19, 2011 || Hypermodern Madness
    FM Albert Chow annotates GM Josh Friedel’s Game-of-the-Week-winning victory in last week’s semifinal match against L.A.
  • November 19, 2011 || This is it: the Big Enchilada
    Okay, chess fans, this is it, the thing we’ve been working and rooting for all season long: the Chicago Blaze have made it to the final round of the U.S. Chess League playoffs. The Blaze, who will play the New York Knights for the league championship next Sunday, earned that right after beating the Los Angeles Vibe 2.5-1.5 in the league semifinals Monday night, making them the Western Division representative in the season’s final match. The Blaze took Monday night’s match on the strength of a draw by GM Yury Shulman and victories by GMs Dmitry Gurevich and Josh Friedel, who won the league Game of the Week prize, the third week in a row it has been won by a Blazer. (Yury won it the previous two.)
  • November 14, 2011 || Chicago Blaze vs. the L.A. Vibe
    Good evening, chess fans. It's the second round of the USCL playoffs, and the Blaze are playing the L.A. Vibe to determine who represents the Western Division in the championship match next Sunday. Once again we’re live blogging tonight’s match. There's a lot on the line, so we're expecting a tough match. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we’ll try to post regular updates here. Refresh your browser every so often as we update the games in progress.
  • November 12, 2011 || Yury Wins Game of the Week – Again
    I don’t know if this has ever happened before in the U.S. Chess League, but for the second week in a row—first in Week 10 of the regular season and now in the first week of the playoffs—GM Yury Shulman of the Blaze has won the league’s Game of the Week prize. And here again he’s annotated the game for our edification, enlightenment, and entertainment. Enjoy.
  • November 8, 2011 || Blaze Push Dallas Destiny into Oblivion in Round One of Playoffs
  • November 7, 2011 || FM Jeffrey Xiong vs. NM Sam Schmakel (Blaze)
    Live blogging this game on Board 4 of the playoff match between the Chicago Blaze and the Dallas Destiny. Join us on Facebook for commentary.
  • November 7, 2011 || GM Mesgen Amanov (Blaze) vs. IM Conrad Holt
    Live blogging this game on Board 3 of the playoff match between the Chicago Blaze and the Dallas Destiny. Join us on Facebook for commentary.
  • November 7, 2011 || GM Julio Sadorra vs. GM Josh Friedel (Blaze)
    Live blogging this game on Board 2 of the playoff match between the Chicago Blaze and the Dallas Destiny. Join us on Facebook for commentary.
  • November 7, 2011 || GM Yury Shulman (Blaze) vs. GM Cristian Chirila
    Live blogging this game on Board 1 of the playoff match between the Chicago Blaze and the Dallas Destiny.
  • November 7, 2011 || Another Nail Biter
    Most people who watched this game live last week probably thought it was a draw. If it had been, the Blaze would have lost the match. Fortunately, IM Angelo Young fought his way to the full point, giving the Blaze a draw in the final match of the regular season.
  • November 6, 2011 || Season Ends, Yury Wins GOTW
    And now, on to the playoffs The USCL regular season ended last week with the Blaze posting a draw against our arch rivals the always-tough Arizona Scorpions. The Blaze held the match on the strength of victories by GM Yury Shulman and IM Angelo Young. Yury’s game, which he annotates below, has won the league Game of the Week.
  • October 31, 2011 || Blaze vs. Scorpions
    Good evening, chess fans. Once again we’re live blogging tonight’s match. The Chicago Blaze are playing our arch rivals, the Arizona Scorpions. They always give us a tough match. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we’ll try to post regular updates here. Refresh your browser every so often as we update the games in progress.
  • October 30, 2011 || Protect Yourself at all Times…and no Mouseslips
    The 8-1 Chicago Blaze will be looking to conclude its historic 2011 season this Monday evening by knocking out the 4-5 Arizona Scorpions. Anything less than a win by the Scorpians means the end of the road and the oblivion of mediocrity for Arizona But the Scorps won't go down without a fight. Accordingly, they are throwing a tough lineup at the Blaze.
  • October 30, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner – Week 9
    A critical moment from last week's game Schmakel - Rosenthal. White has sacrificed two pawns for the initiative but is in danger or not getting enough compensation. How did white take advantage of his current lead in development?
  • October 30, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner: the Solution
  • October 30, 2011 || Sacrificial Pawns
    Trevor analyzes the only Blaze victory in last week's loss to Miami.
  • October 26, 2011 || Bear Down Chicago Blaze
    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.
  • October 24, 2011 || Chicago Blaze vs. Miami Sharks
    Good evening, chess fans. Once again we’re live blogging tonight’s match. The Chicago Blaze are playing the Miami Sharks. Looks like a tough match. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we’ll try to post regular updates here. Refresh your browser every so often as we update the games in progress.
  • October 23, 2011 || Trevor Annotates: Kiewra vs. Rosen
    A key game the Blaze's Week 8 victory.
  • October 23, 2011 || Blaze Douse Dallas; Eric Scores a T-Shirt; Sharks Circling
    My friends, we are in haste. It’s a short week, we’re late in recapping last week’s match (all the usual excuses), this week’s match is nigh (Monday!), and thus we will dispense with the pointless kibitzing and the superfluous salutations and get right to the nitty gritty. The first item of business: the Blaze scorched the Dallas Destiny by a score of 3.5.-.5 (ouch) last Wednesday night to continue one of the greatest winning streaks in U.S. Chess League history and clinch first place in the Western Division. With two weeks left in the regular season the Blaze are 8-0, undefeated and untied, and that’s pretty impressive is we do say so ourselves. Even if you disagree (and if you’re reading this you probably don’t) the fact remains, as I understand it, that no other team in league history has ever had a perfect record this late in the season. Deal with it.
  • October 19, 2011 || Chicago Blaze vs. Dallas Destiny
    Good evening, chess fans. Once again we’re live blogging tonight’s match. The Chicago Blaze are playing the Dallas Destiny, former USCL champs, in what is sure to be one of the toughest contests this year for our home team. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we’ll try to post regular updates here. Refresh your browser every so often as we update the games in progress.
  • October 19, 2011 || Byambaa – Schmakel: the Solution
  • October 19, 2011 || A Date with Destiny
  • October 18, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner: Week 7
    In this position from Byambaa - Schmakel from last week's match between the echanics and the Blaze, black has been up a piece for a while, but white has een hoping to hold on, perhaps by creating some sort of fortress. At this oint however, black ended all of white's hopes with one strong move. What did black play?
  • October 17, 2011 || The Decider
    The Blaze faced perhaps their toughest match of the season last week in the USCL, squeaking out a 2.5-1.5 win versus the San Francisco Mechanics. As the top three boards all drew, this battle between Sam and Uyanga was the deciding one of the match. After a double-edged middlegame which saw the evaluation change multiple times, Sam eventually secured the upper hand, winning a piece and securing another match victory for the Blaze.
  • October 16, 2011 || Well Matched
    “Before this game I felt really desperate against Vinay,” explains GM Yury Shulman, about his drawn game this past week against GM Vinay Bhat, “since he beat me once and we drew all the remaining games we played. The only consolation for me was the fact that I beat Vinay in blitz tournament in Montreal.” Yury provides his usually thorough analysis of a game that was vital, as was every other game, in last week’s victory over San Francisco.
  • October 16, 2011 || I Left My Heart in San Francisco
    By IM Angelo Young While working on my preparation for the Chicago Blaze-San Francisco match I recalled the first time I stepped into the San Francisco area back in 1991. It was sunny and breezy and I really loved the city, the warm weather, beautiful scenery (Golden Gate Bridge), and I met a pretty and young girl named Jane. . . . From then on I couldn't forget the city by the bay. I left my heart In San Francisco.
  • October 14, 2011 || Schmak-down!
    Week 7 brought us a match against the always dangerous San Francisco Mechanics in what may be a preview of the first round of the Western Division playoffs. The 2.5-1.5 win brought the Blaze to a perfect 5-2 7-0 record. The formidable Mechanics threw an entire gauntlet of obstacles in our path including (2) strong GMs, a world youth champion, another top junior player, and an assistant commissioner. Like so many matches in the US Chess League, trying to guess the final match score is a futile endeavor as tightly contested games swing the score predictions one way or the other every few minutes.
  • October 12, 2011 || Blaze Beat Mechanics Tonight
    Tonight the Chicago Blaze deafeated the San Francisco Mechanics 2.5-1.5 to go 7-0 on the season! A victory on Board 4 by NM Sam Schmakel and draws on Boards 1-3 by GMs Shulman and Amanov and IM Young did it for the Blaze. Here are the games. Stay tuned for more.
  • October 11, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner, Week 6: Young-Defibaugh
  • October 11, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner, Week 6: Solution
  • October 11, 2011 || Don’t Kraii for Me, San Francisco
    The Blaze may face their toughest opponent of the year this week in the San Francisco Mechanics. Brad Rosen previews the Week 7 match.
  • October 10, 2011 || Gopalization
    Last week NM Gopal Menon posted his second victory in two starts with the Blaze, handing Baltimore’s NM Ian Schoch his only loss of the year so far. How did he do it? NM Trevor Magness annotates the game.
  • October 8, 2011 || A Bird in Hand
    IM Angelo Young annotates his Week 6 win, a key factor in the Blaze’s razor-thin margin of victory over the Baltimore Kingfishers.
  • October 7, 2011 || As Kingfishers Catch Fire
  • October 5, 2011 || Blaze vs. Kingfishers
    Good evening, chess fans. Once again we’re live blogging tonight's match. The Chicago Blaze are playing the Baltimore Kingfishers. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we'll try to post regular updates here. Refresh your browser every so often as we update the games in progress.
  • October 4, 2011 || Beware the Kingfishers
  • October 3, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner: Vojinovic-Gurevich
    Did you miss Trevor’s Corner last week? Fear not, NM Trevor Magness is back this week with another fun tactical problem, this from GM Dmitry Gurevich’s victory last week over IM Goran Vojinovic. It’s the usual drill: look at the position and decide what move you would make. Then click below to see what the Blaze grandmaster did. If you decided the same move he made, pat yourself on the back.
  • October 3, 2011 || Vojinovic-Gurevich: The Solution
  • October 2, 2011 || Hat Tip: Gray Lady
    Congratulations to GM Mesgen Amanov of the Chicago Blaze, whose victory over IM Zhanibek Amanov (no relation), in one of the most interesting games in the USCL this year, was reviewed today in the New York Times by chess columnist Dylan Loeb McClain. McClain also mentioned the Blaze, our 5-0 start this season, and gave us some link love by pointing to the Blaze blog twice. Thanks, Mr. McClain, and please stay tuned; there’s plenty more to come this season.
  • October 2, 2011 || The Icing on the Cake
    This week National Master Sam Schmakel topped off the Blaze victory over the Arch Bishop with a thrilling win that made the score a decisive 3.5-.5. NM Trevor Magness annotates.
  • September 30, 2011 || Back to Basics
    After two—count ‘em, two—undefeated seasons in the U.S. Chess League, IM Angelo Young hit a rough patch in 2010. He appears to be back in form. Loogout, league! Angelo has kindly annotated his victory this past week over FM Doug Eckert.
  • September 29, 2011 || Keeping the Heat On
    The Chicago Blaze juggernaut continues to roll through the U.S. Chess League. Last night our Chi-town team won another decisive victory, beating the St. Louis Arch Bishops 3.5-.5. At this point, halfway through the ten-week regular season, the Blaze have a perfect record of 5-0—undefeated and untied. Once again we got stellar performances from all four boards, with victories by GM Dmitry Gurevich, IM Angelo Young and NM Sam Schmakel and a draw by GM Josh Friedel against the redoubtable St. Louis GM Ben Finegold.
  • September 28, 2011 || Blaze vs. Arch Bishops
    Good evening, chess fans. Once again we’re live blogging tonight's match. The Chicago Blaze are playing the St. Louis Arch Bishops. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we'll try to post regular updates here. Refresh your browser every so often as we update the games in progress.
  • September 28, 2011 || The Hyperactive King
    . . . and other tales from a very exciting draw. I watched this game live on ICC, and I still can’t believe FM Jim Dean held it. The 80-move marathon was Jim’s first game as a Blazer, and he certainly showed his tenacity, to say nothing of endurance. Now FM Albert Chow, who has kindly annotated the game, explains how Jim did it.
  • September 27, 2011 || Send Me an Angelo
    Angelo Young's return to the Blaze lineup tonight marks his 20th match since the team entered the league in 2008, and his first back in action since week 1 when he won his match in the Blaze season opening victory over the Seattle Sluggers. This week, as the 4-0 Blaze take on the 1-3 St. Louis Arch Bishops, Young will take the helm at the pivotal Board 3 spot where he will have the white pieces against FM Doug Eckert. Young has been a clutch performer on Board 3 over the years, and in 2009 he was named to the USCL 1st team All Stars for position in 2009. Aside from being the longest time member of the Blaze, Young is also perhaps one of the most committed, enthusiastic, supportive members on the team. Young is also the proprietor of the Touch Move Chess Center, located on Chicago's north side. Here are the match-ups for the Blaze-Arch Bishop showdown:
  • September 26, 2011 || No-Win Winawer
    GM Yury Shulman of the Blaze has a long history with GM Melikset Khachian, whom he played this past week in Chicago’s match against the L.A. Vibe. “The majority of [our games] ended in a draw,” says Yury. This one, too. But win, lose, or draw, every game contains lessons, doesn’t it? Which is why Yury has kindly annotated this one.
  • September 23, 2011 || Seesaw
    In NM Gopal Menon’s Blaze debut, at first it looked like he was winning, then it was looking like he was drawing, and then it looked like he was winning again—because he was and he did. GM Dmitry Gurevich explains in the annotations below.
  • September 23, 2011 || Benoni Sono Buoni
    said Bill Brock sagely during the Blaze match against the Los Angeles Vibe Wednesday night. Had GM Mesgen Amanov’s opponent—IM Zhanibek Amanov, no relation—had a word with Bill earlier, perhaps he would have chosen a different defense against the Chicago-area grandmaster who is playing superb chess for the Blaze this year. As it happened Zhanibek found himself in the midst of a game that his opponent and namesake understood in a deep theoretical way. The result is one of the most interesting games we’ve seen this year. Below, Mesgen, the victor, analyzes the game. Get ready for chessical treat of the first rank.
  • September 22, 2011 || Blaze Force LA to Bite the Bullet
    National Master Gopal Menon made his USCL debut in spectacular fashion Wednesday night as he extracted a win, from what many in the crowd thought was a drawn position, to clinch the Blaze win and extend the team's perfect record to 4-0. Menon, known for his one minute bullet chess prowess (he was #1 on the ICC one minute list earlier in the year), came out of a the opening in typical fashion, with an advantage and up the exchange against 10-year old whiz kid Albert Lu.
  • September 21, 2011 || The Blaze vs. the Vibe
    Live blogging tonight's match between the Chicago Blaze and the Los Angeles Vibe. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we'll try to post regular updates here.
  • September 21, 2011 || Dean, Menon to Make Blaze Debuts in L.A. Match Tonight
    When the Blaze take on the Los Angeles Vibe tonight, two members of the lineup will be making their Blaze debuts: FM Jim Dean and NM Gopal Menon. Though they’re new to the Blaze, both are veterans of the Midwestern chess scene. Please welcome them and wish them well as they attempt to help the Chicago Blaze maintain their undefeated record, which now stands at 3-0.
  • September 18, 2011 || Two Helpings
    NM Sam Schmakel’s victory over NM Nick Thompson last week was so thrilling that we’re bringing you not one, but two analyses of the game, one from GM Dmitry Gurevich, and one from NM Trevor Magness. Here you go, have fun.
  • September 18, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner: Stop that Pawn! (Promote this One)
    Another problem from last week’s Blaze match presented and analyzed by NM Trevor Magness, Blaze alumnus and the team’s number-one Nebraska-based fan. This position occurred late in NM Sam Schmackel’s game with NM Nick Thompson. His victory in the last game of the evening to end clinched the match for the Blaze. Sam has the white pieces. Think about what move you would make, and then click below to see what Sam played and Trevor’s commentary.
  • September 18, 2011 || Schmakel-Thompson: The Solution
  • September 16, 2011 || Tactical Threats, Nerves of Steel (i.e., Chess)
    In another exciting Blaze Game of the Week, FM Albert Chow analyzes GM Josh Friedel’s draw against his Arizona Scorpion opponent, IM Mac Molner, who played a tough Sicilian Najdorf. Enjoy.
  • September 14, 2011 || “And Here Comes Lightning!” A Blaze Game of the Week
    GM Mesgen Amanov of the Blaze looks back on his victory last Monday over NM David Adelberg.
  • September 13, 2011 || Play it Again, Sam
    Sam Schmakel, a sophomore at Chicago's Whitney Young High School, came though under incredible time pressure in the clutch, in his US Chess League debut last night to prevail over his opponent, Nick Adams, to clinch a 2.5-1.5 victory for the Chicago Blaze against its tenacious arch-rival, the Arizona Scorpions. With less than 30 seconds left on his clock on move 40, Schmakel shocked and dazzled the crowd as he initiated a brutal combination by sliding his queen to the f7 square to put Adam's King in check. Sam followed up with another check, then a knight fork of Adam's queen and king, and when the dust settled, Sam's passed a-pawn was primed to become queen itself. A few moves later, Adams saw no way out and resigned, which led to Sam's GM teammates and Blaze fans breaking out into applause, as well as a sigh of relief. With this win, the Blaze are off to a 3-0 start for the season, the in the league and the best ever in the team's history.
  • September 12, 2011 || The Blaze vs. Arizona
    Live blogging tonight's match between the Chicago Blaze and the Arizona Scorpions. If you have access to the Internet Chess Club, go there and watch the games live. If not, we'll try to post regular updates here.
  • September 12, 2011 || Once More, Into the Breach: Arizona Tonight
    The Arizona Scorpions and the Chicago Blaze are arch rivals, though it seems almost absurd to say it, since our lifetime record with them is lopsided in the extreme. In six matches, they’ve won five, and we’ve won one. They're tough, but we'll go at it with them with a strong lineup tonight.
  • September 11, 2011 || Game of the Week #4: GM Josh’s Blaze Debut
    Another big part of last week’s Blaze victory over the Miami Sharks was GM Josh Friedel’s win over FM Eric Rodriguez in less than 30 moves. It was Josh’s first game with Chicago and the first game of the evening to end. NM Trevor Magness annotates Josh’s game.
  • September 11, 2011 || Blaze GOTW #3: Allen-Freitag
    Todd Freitag walked into a highly suboptimal situation last week. When a last-minute gap in the Blaze lineup against the Miami Sharks had to be plugged, Todd, who is not on the Blaze regular roster, stepped up and agreed to step in. As an 11th-hour substitution, he was forced to play with a time penalty— against a higher rated player with the Black pieces. Not an idea setup for your first USCL game. Todd did a great job, though, holding his opponent to a draw in a tough game and getting on the board in Chicago’s 3.5-.5 victory against the Sharks. Here he analyzes the game.
  • September 11, 2011 || Blaze GOTW #2
    Yesterday we brought you Trevor’s excerpt on GM Dmitry Gurevich’s dashing queen sac in his game against NM Ernesto Alvarez. Today, Albert Chow, FIDE Master and chess annotator extraordinaire par excellence, looks at the whole game. Blaze “Game of the Week” #2.
  • September 10, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner, Week 2
    From the Chicago Blaze's very own puzzle master, NM Trevor Magness. Click below for the answer. In this position from the game between GM Gurevich and NM Alvarez, white has built up the clearly superior position with a passed pawn on d7 and very well-placed pieces. White has a number of ways to win here, but Dmitry found a nice tactic that ended the game almost immediately. WHITE TO PLAY
  • September 10, 2011 || Gurevich-Alvarez Puzzle: The Solution
  • September 10, 2011 || Blaze GOTW #1: “Pawn Down Mess”
    Miami’s FM Fabio La Rota gave GM Yury Shulman a tough time in their game this week, but in the end the former U.S. champion used his superb tactical ability to pull it out. Here he explains how he did it. This is the first Blaze “Game of the Week” for Week 2. More to come.
  • September 8, 2011 || Blaze Go Deep to Repel the Feisty Sharks
    The Miami Sharks put up a good fight against a deep Chicago lineup consisting of 3 GM's and last minute pinch hitter Todd Freitag, but in the end, lost to the Blaze by a 3.5-.5 margin. While the match score may suggest otherwise, there was no shortage of excitement at Skokie's North Shore Chess Center yesterday evening.
  • September 5, 2011 || Blaze Game of the Week #2
    As we were saying, all four of last week's game were exciting and interesting, making it hard to choose a single Game of the Week. So here's another one, artfully annotated by Chicago chess veteran FIDE Master Albert Chow. Thanks, Al.
  • September 4, 2011 || Shulman, Friedel, Schmakel to Debut
    The lineups for this week’s USCL match between the Blaze and the Miami Sharks have been announced, and three new players will make their first appearance for the Blaze this week; GM Yury Shulman, GM Josh Friedel, and NM Sam Schmackel. The only Blaze veteran in this week’s lineup will be GM Dmitry Gurevich, who finds himself in the unusual position of playing Board 3.
  • September 4, 2011 || Trevor’s Corner
    Though he has decamped for parts west, Blaze alumnus and National Master Trevor Magness is still a stalwart supporter of the team. This year he’s kindly agreed to provide blog posts that add to our chess knowledge. Here’s one of them.
  • September 3, 2011 || Blaze Game of the Week
    Every member of this week’s lineup played a great, interesting game, so whether this is the Blaze Game of the Week or simply one of up to four remains to be seen. No matter what, though, IM Angelo Young’s victory over FM Dereque Kelley was an outstanding game. It’s annotated by NM Trevor Magness, a former member of the Blaze who still follows and roots for the team from Nebraska, where he’s going to college. Thanks, Trevor.
  • September 1, 2011 || Get Used to the Heat
    The Chicago Blaze came out smoking in its season opener with a convincing 3.5 - .5 victory over the Seattle Sluggers this past Wednesday evening. It was a hot night in the Chicagoland area as Blaze team members, management, local luminaries, chess fans, as well as members of the local press corps converged on the the North Shore Chess Center in Skokie to witness the beginning of what many believe will be a championship season.
  • August 29, 2011 || Opening Night Lineups
    Well, this is it, chess fans. The 2011 U.S. Chess League season gets under way this week, and our first match of the year, against the Seattle Sluggers, starts Wednesday night at 8:00 PM. Here are the lineups.
  • August 24, 2011 || Blaze Bolster Lineup for Coming Season
    Aiming to break out of the pack and make a run for the championship of the United States Chess League, the Chicago Blaze has added five marquee players to this year’s roster, including 2008 U.S. chess champion GM Yury Shulman.
2010
  • November 15, 2010 || Who are you rooting for?
    Who are you rooting for in the U.S. Chess League championship match this Saturday, the Miami Sharks or the New England Nor'easters? With Chicago eliminated, a Blaze fam might find him or herself a bit at sea. If you're having trouble deciding whom to root for, maybe this list of decisions and rationales will help. Pick whichever one suits you, or make up one of your own. If you do the latter, please share it with us as a comment.
  • November 10, 2010 || USCL Semifinals
    Tonight’s the night the final four of the U.S. Chess League become the final two, as Arizona takes on Seattle for the Western Division championship and two teams from New England duke it out in the East. The winners of tonight’s contests will play for the league championship. We’re live-blogging here at the Chicago Blaze site while the matches are in progress. If you have a subscription to the Internet Chess Club, go there that’s the best way to watch the games. In real time. \If you’re not on ICC, being here may be the next best thing. Click on the links below to see each of the games. We’ll try to keep them updated regularly throughout the night. Tell your friends, and feel free to leave comments.
  • November 6, 2010 || Blaze Game of the (Final) Week
    You can’t know too much about the Sicilian, and to help you with that, our CAO—that’s chief annotation officer—NM Jeremy Kane returns one more time to analyze Wednesday night’s draw between GM Dmitry Gurevich of the Blaze and Miami’s GM Julio Becerra, this year’s USCL Most Valuable Player. Click through and enjoy.
  • November 5, 2010 || Florida Hurricane
    The Chicago Blaze are swept from the playoffs by a surging storm from the Sunshine State. The Chicago Blaze beat a sad and hasty exit from the 2010 USCL playoff Wednesday night, when they were defeated by the Miami Sharks in the first round by a score of 3-1. For the Blaze, the season is now over. Wednesday night’s match was an uphill battle for the Chicago squad from the very beginning. Early in the night, FM Gauri Shankar dropped a miniature on Board 4 to Nicholas Rosenthal after playing an unfortunate 19.Be3. On Boards 1 and 3, GM Dmitry Gurevich and IM Florin Felecan, both playing Black, manages to hold draws with higher rated opponents, but that left GM Mesgen Amanov that task of having to beat GM Renier Gonzalez on Board 2 to secure the match draw the Blaze needed to advance in the playoffs. Several knowledgeable observers said the position in that game was drawn, but Mesgen struggled mightily to turn it into a win for the team, and in the course of that attempt Gonzalez emerged with the victory.
  • November 2, 2010 || It’s Win or Go Home Time
    We’re into new territory here, chess fans. After finishing their first two seasons at 4-6, the Chicago Blaze flipped those numbers around in 2010, achieved a won-loss average of .600, and made the U.S. Chess League playoff. It’s a great accomplishment, but it only gets harder from here, as the New York Knights and Baltimore Kingfishers learned last night when their seasons ended suddenly with defeats by two teams from New England, the Nor’Easters and the Blitz. It’s win or go home time. As for us, we have a return engagement with the team we played just two weeks ago, the Miami Sharks. That matched ended in a draw, and while several Blaze fans and players thought we could have won that match, the Sharks probably feel that they could have done the same. We’re two evenly matched teams, and tomorrow they’re throwing a tough lineup at us.
  • October 30, 2010 || Blaze Game(s) of the Week: Week 10 – Extended Edition
    By NM Jeremy Kane Heading into week 10 the Blaze needed only a draw to make the playoffs for the first time in team history. In reality though, the team needed more. While a tie would qualify for the playoffs, no one wanted to have finished the season winless in the final four weeks. Furthermore, the prospect of a round one matchup giving draw odds to the stacked St. Louis lineup didn’t fill anyone with excitement. This is why there was a large, tense crowd huddled into the North Shore Chess Center Wednesday night pulling for the Blaze to win and clinch the second seed in the West. In their way stood the Dallas Destiny with a young and strong lineup, hoping to spoil the Blaze season and take a playoff spot of their own.
  • October 28, 2010 || Don’t Mess with Illinois
    The make-or-break battle for the playoffs makes the Blaze and breaks Texas For the first time in their history the Chicago Blaze have made it to the USCL playoffs. They did it by beating the Dallas Destiny last night by a score of 2.5-1.5 in the final match of the regular season. It was a make-or-break night for both teams; it made the Blaze and broke the Destiny. The margin of victory came from wins by IM Florin Felecan and NM Trevor Magness and a draw my GM Dmitry Gurevich. As a result of the victory the Blaze finish the regular season in sole possession of second place in the Western Division of the USCL, a half a match point behind the division-leading Arizona Scorpions. “I still can't believe we won it!” said a stunned an elated Dmitry, whose draw with IM Bercys was critical to the match victory for the Blaze. “What a match! What a team!”
  • October 25, 2010 || This is It, Folks
    It all comes down to Week 10 against Dallas If ever in your life you’ve felt guilty for not having rooted hard enough for the Chicago Blaze, don’t worry, you’re about to get a chance to redeem yourself. You only have to do one thing: root as hard as you can for your team this Wednesday night, when they go up against the Dallas Destiny in a make-or-break match to gain a playoff spot in the Western Division of the USCL. The situation is this. The Blaze are currently in second place, a hair’s breadth ahead of St. Louis on tiebreaks, but none of that really matters. What matters is that there are three competitive playoff spots in the Western Division, six teams have a chance to win them, and with one round of games left in the regular season it will all be decided this week. On Wednesday night the Blaze play the Dallas Destiny who themselves have a chance to make the playoffs, but they must win the match to do so. Here’s what it comes down to. If they Blaze win, they’re in the playoffs. If they draw, they’re in the playoffs. If they lose they’re out.
  • October 21, 2010 || Blaze Game of the Week II
  • October 20, 2010 || Blaze Game of the Week I
    The Chicago Blaze played the Miami Sharks to a draw last Monday, bringing our record to 5-4 with a week left in the regular season and keeping alive our playoff hopes, which had suffered setbacks in the previous two matches, which we lost. More on the match with photos shortly. In the meantime, Chicago Blaze CAO—that’s Chief Annotation Officer—NM Jeremy Kane, has conducted his usually thorough analysis of one of the Blaze games that helped us hold Miami: the victory by NM Eric Rosen over the Sharks’ Nick Rosenthal on Board 4. Enjoy and learn. With some luck we may later be able to bring you an analysis of the other Blaze win, by GM Mesgen Amanov.
  • October 17, 2010 || A Manager’s Reflections
    By Blaza Manger Daniel Parmet “In victory you deserve Champagne; in defeat you need it.” - Napoleon Bonaparte A manager, who is not also a rostered player, just lurks in the strangest shadows. It is an interesting position because you have a huge invested interest in the team’s success, but no chance to drive in the lineup. Instead, you just make the lineup. In my case, being unrostered is a very good thing! As a patzer, I would be enormously outrated by all the board4 stars. Needless to say, some of the best blog posts in my opinion I have read in the USCL's history have come from a managers (in particular one manager that of San Francisco’s Mechanics Manager IM John Donaldson has always impressed me). Every time I read a blog post by John, I feel like I’m really seeing things through his eyes with a respectful yet honest assessment. Yet I’ve never stepped up to the plate to post because I find it hard to describe my point of view. Well after the heart wrenching loss last week to Arizona over the fight for 1st in Western Division standings… I decided it was about time I gave this blog post a whirl. The Chicago Blaze is coming off a 2 week loss but is ready to face off toe to toe with the Miami Sharks. The match showcases’ the Blaze’s strongest lineup yet.
  • October 12, 2010 || How the Arizona Scorpions Killed a Perfectly Good Monday Evening
    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.
  • October 9, 2010 || Arizona Redux
    The Arizona Scorpions are in first place in the Western Division of the USCL, and we have the task of facing them again this Monday night. At our last meeting three weeks ago the Blaze managed to wreck the Scorpion's then-perfect record when we beat them for the first time in our history. They're a tough team--one of the toughest in the league--and Monday night they'll be out for revenge.
  • October 7, 2010 || Pummeled by the Prelates
    Even in a good season there are losses, and the Chicago Blaze suffered one last night, at the hands of the St. Louis Arch Bishops, by a score of 2.5-1.5. St. Louis’s winning edge came on Board 1, in the first game of the night to end, when Arch Bishop GM Hikaru Nakamura successfully carried out a regicidal plot reminiscent of power-hungry medieval prelates, against the good and virtuous king of his opponent, GM Dmitry Gurevich of the Blaze. Alexandre Dumas would have understood the game perfectly.
  • October 1, 2010 || Meerovich-Wheeler 2008
  • September 30, 2010 || Blaze Game of the Week
    This week IM Arjun Visnuvardhan made his debut with the Chicago Blaze, and a triumphant one it was: a victory over IM Karl Dehmelt of the Philadelphia Inventors. In a match where all of the other games were drawn, Arjun supplied the margin of victory for the Blaze that has catapulted us into first place in the Western Division after Week 6 of the USCL season. If Blaze fans didn’t know Arjun before, they do now. Welcome to the team, sir! Here NM Jeremy Kane does his usual stellar job of annotating the Blaze Game of the Week. Enjoy.
  • September 30, 2010 || We’re #1!
    This just in. As a result of last night’s interdivisional games, the Chicago Blaze find themselves in sole possession of first place in the USCL Western Division for the first time in the team’s history.
  • September 29, 2010 || Indecisively Decisive
    Three draws will win you a USCL match—as long as that fourth game is a win. The Blaze’s quest for the best season in the team’s history continued Monday night as the Chicago squad beat the Eastern Division’s Philadelphia Inventors by a score of 2.5-1.5. It was the second victory in a row for the fire makers, raising their 2010 record to 4.5-1.5. And while only six weeks in the ten-week regular season are over, this is, in fact, the best Blaze season every, the first time they have cracked the four-victory barrier since joining the U.S. Chess League in 2008.
  • September 25, 2010 || No Idle Amusement
    In 1786, Philadelphia polymath and bon vivant Benjamin Franklin published “The Morals of Chess,” a short but pity treatise on the royal game, in Columbian Magazine. Now, here we are, the Chicago Blaze, a mere 224 years later, about to face the chess team from that very city. Coincidence? Probably.
  • September 21, 2010 || Game of the Week II
    It’s always good to have multiple Blaze victories to show you. This morning GM Dmitry Gurevich analyzed his win from last night. Here, our annotator-in-residence, National Master Jeremy Kane, explains NM Eric Rosen’s Sicilian slugfest against NM Nick Thompson.
  • September 21, 2010 || Ambush in the Desert
    It’s tough having a perfect won-loss record; the pressure to keep winning and stay perfect is overwhelming. Going into last night the Arizona Scorpions were the only USCL team in that highly fraught position, but thanks to the Chicago Blaze, who handed them their first defeat of the 2010 season, the Scorpions have now been relieved of that particular burden. We will forgive them, of course, if they don’t thank us.
  • September 21, 2010 || King’s Indian Summer
    Since the match ended well after 11:00 PM, GM Dmitry Gurevich must have stayed up into the wee hours of the night to bring us these annotations from his big victory last night against IM Rogelio Barcenilla of the Arizona Scorpions, and we’re grateful to him. It was a great night for the Blaze, who beat the previously undefeated Scorpions for the first time ever. We’ll have more on that later, but in the meantime enjoy Dmitry’s excellent game. Check out the swashbuckling rook sac 36. Rxh7+! There’s a reason they call these guys grandmasters. It’s an art form.
  • September 20, 2010 || The 800-Pound Arachnid
    While much of the league’s attention this year has been focused on the St. Louis Arch Bishops, the new expansion team that arrived on the scene with a roster laden with super-GMs, another team, the Arizona Scorpions, has quietly amassed a perfect 4-0 record in the opening week of the season. They’re the only team that’s won all of its first four matches. While everybody’s been talking about the 800-pound gorilla, the 800-pound arachnid has taken over. It’s no surprise to Chicago chess fans. In addition to being 4-0 on the season, the Grand Canyon State woodpushers boast that very same lifetime record against the Blaze. Tonight, however, they put both of those records on the line when they face the Blaze in Monday night USCL action. The match starts tonight at 8:00 PM Chicago time. Follow it on the Internet Chess Club, and keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook. Go Blaze!
  • September 17, 2010 || Saving Face
    Thank goodness NM Trevor Magness won his game against NM Konstantin Kavutskiy on Board 4 this week in our match against the L.A. Vibe. But for that, the Blaze would have been swept by the Californians. Here’s the game, with analysis by Trevor himself and our resident annotator, NM Jeremy Kane.
  • September 16, 2010 || Bad Vibes
    The Blaze suffered their first defeat of the season Wednesday night, losing to the Los Angeles Vibe, a new expansion team, by a lopsided score of 3-1. It was rough sledding most of the night for the Windy City woodpushers, who were aced out on the top three boards. Losing to their mostly higher-rated West Coast opponents were GM Dmitry Gurevich, IM Florin Felecan, and IM Angelo Young. The one bright spot of the night was a Board 4 victory by NM Trevor Magness, making his first appearance with the Blaze this year, over NM Konstantin Kavutskiy. It was Trevor’s first USCL win, and it came at a most opportune time, saving the Blaze the embarrassment of a sweep.
  • September 11, 2010 || “I Can’t Get Inside His Fortress”
    What was going through the mind of IM Angelo Young during that endless game against FM Steven Zierk last Wednesday night? He reveals it all here as he annotates the game. The 97-move agon, which ended in a draw by agreement, was the last game of the night to end, and it sealed victory for the Blaze over the San Francisco Mechanics 2.5-1.5.
  • September 10, 2010 || Blaze Game of the Week
    Our game of the week. The only decisive game in this week's match between the Chicago and San Francisco was this victory by GM Dmitry Gurevich of the Blaze. NM Jeremy Kane annotates.
  • September 9, 2010 || With Engine Purring
    Every Blaze player was a hero last night, as Chicago dropped a wrench into the crankshaft of the San Francisco Mechanics’ undefeated season, handing the Bay Area crew its first loss of the year 2.5-1.5. The Blaze—whose season record now improves to 2.5-.5, the best start in the team’s three-year history—did it with a combination of one victory and three draws, each contribution being essential to the overall result.
  • September 7, 2010 || Gurevich Wins Illinois Open
    Congratulations to GM Dmitry Gurevich of the Chicago Blaze, who is the new state chess champion following his victory this past weekend at the Illinois Open. Dmitry prevailed over some tough competition, not the least being his own Blaze teammates, who played well at the tournament. In all, seven of the top ten spots in the final standings were captured by current or former Blaze players. Speaking of capturing, superstar chess photographer Betsy Dynako was on hand to record the action beautifully. We are, as always, deeply grateful for her photos and permission to post them.
  • September 6, 2010 || An Interview with Cindy Tsai
    An interview with WIM Cindy Tsai, a new member of the Chicago Blaze who her played her first game with the team last week, conducted by Blaze Manager Daniel Parmet. Cindy talks about how she go into chess, its role in her life, and coming back to the game after a long hiatus.
  • September 5, 2010 || The Other Blaze Game of the Week
  • September 4, 2010 || Felecan Wins USCL Game of the Week
    Congratulations to IM Florin Felecan of the Chicago Blaze, whose victory Wednesday night over GM Yury Shulman has been selected as the U.S. Chess League’s Game of the Week. The game, which was analyzed yesterday by Florin and NM Jeremy Kane, is also the league’s Upset of the Week, owing to Yury’s 300-point ratings advantage. Florin wins a $150 cash prize for GOTW, and Yury gets $50. Florin gets a t-shirt from Endgame Clothing for the upset prize. The video in this post shows Florin and Yury discussing the game at the North Shore Chess Center moments after it ended. The footage is short and not very good, and I originally thought of trashing it, but now that the game is famous I have decided to stay my hand. Besides, it dawned on me that in the era of Web 2.0 and YouTube, of crowdsourcing and hive minds, mediocrity is actually a virtue, a mark of authenticity that the handiwork of professional elitist gatekeepers can’t boast. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  • September 3, 2010 || Analysis of GM Shulman – IM Felecan
  • September 2, 2010 || Ready, Set—Draw!
    Winning isn’t everything. Sometimes drawing is enough. While we would have been delighted to beat the behemoth that is the St. Louis Arch Bishop team, we were happy to escape, as it were, with a draw when we face them this week. Here are some photos from the scene by Betsy Dynako.
  • September 2, 2010 || Sweep Us Interruptus
    Since nobody actually won, it technically wasn’t an “upset,” but try telling that to anyone who was at the North Shore Chess Center last night when GM Yury Shulman resigned his game against IM Florin Felecan, bringing the match between the Chicago Blaze and the fearsome St. Louis Arch Bishops in an inconclusive end. To the Blaze fans in the room, who knew how heavily St. Louis was favored, the 2-2 draw felt like victory. The Arch Bishops had come with the highest-rated lineup in U.S. Chess League history, a lineup that included three grandmasters, two of them recent U.S. Champions. St. Louis was going to win, everybody knew it. The team’s own Facebook page even predicted a 4-0 sweep. But that's not what happened
  • September 1, 2010 || Women Make Their Mark with the Blaze
    For the first time in the team’s history, a woman will be in the Blaze lineup tonight when the first pawns are pushed in our match against the St. Louis Arch Bishops. In fact, this year’s Blaze roster includes two female players. Please join us in welcoming WIMs Cindy Tsai and Nalluri Vinuthna.
  • September 1, 2010 || Gorilla Warfare
    The St Louis Arch Bishops are the new 800-pound gorilla in the USCL, and tonight the massive primate will park itself on our metaphorical living room couch, as the Chicago Blaze face the Gateway City team in Week 2 of the new chess season. Having dropped their opening match to the L.A. Vibe with a two-grandmaster lineup, the Arch Bishops will come at us tonight with their much-heralded dream team: three grandmasters and the highest rated lineup in U.S. Chess League history. It's a rare day when a grandmaster plays on Board 3 in a USCL match and rarer still when a recent national champion plays on Board 2. But that's what the Blaze are up against tonight.
  • August 29, 2010 || Game of the Week by Jeremy Kane
  • August 28, 2010 || Who are the Arch Bishops?
    Rarely has a new expansion team entered the U.S. Chess League with as much fanfare as the St. Louis Arch Bishops , which made their USCL debut last week and face the Blaze next Wednesday night. But then rarely, if ever, has a new team arrived with not one, but two U.S. Champions on its roster.
  • August 24, 2010 || Blaze Silence Sluggers’ Bats, Win Season Opener
    For the first time in the team’s three-year history, the Chicago Blaze have won their season opener, raising hopes of chess fans throughout the Prairie State that this might be our season. After dropping their opening matches in 2008 and 2009 to the Arizona Scorpions, the Chicago squad last night drew first blood for 2010 against the Seattle Sluggers, historically one of the strongest teams in the U.S. Chess League. The final score was 2.5-1.5.
  • August 21, 2010 || Gurevich to Make Blaze Debut Against Seattle
    GM Dmitry Gurevich, a longtime favorite of Chicago-area chess fans, will make his Blaze debut Monday night when the team kicks off the 2010 season against the Seattle Sluggers. Boards 2, 3, and 4 will be occupied by Blaze veterans.
  • August 20, 2010 || Monday’s Match at HIS
    Due to circumstances beyond our control, the new North Shore Chess Center, which will be the 2010 home of the Chicago Blaze, won't be ready in time for next Monday's opening match. Instead, for this match only, we'll at our old home two blocks east of there, the Holiday Inn Skokie, 5300 West Touhy Avenue.
  • July 11, 2010 || Rosen Draws Robson in St. Louis
  • July 6, 2010 || 2010 Schedule Announced
  • February 17, 2010 || Blaze Shines at USAT
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