Next week is the last week in the USCL. Unfortunately, this will be last real-time blog of the regular season. If (when) New Jersey makes the playoffs, I should be back in November for another blog.
But next week, when New York and New Jersey will play, it might be for the final playoff spot! Watch the United States Chess League action next week on the Internet Chess Club, sponsored by PokerStars.com.
Blehm resigned! And the Knockouts have tied the match 2.0 - 2.0!
And Joel has won a piece, but Blehm is trying to mate him and get a perpetual.
And Molner put the final crush on Kaufman, and Kaufman resigned! The Knockouts now are behind only 1.0 - 2.0.
Molner's got Kaufman in a nasty zugzwang. He just needs to push his pawns to victory, it seems.
But Khodarkovsky's game really wasn't as interesting as I made it out to be. A few short moves later, White's central passed pawn stopped the dancing monarch, and Michael had to resign. Therefore, the Knockouts are down 0.0 - 2.0.
A bad taste of donuts infects the bile within me.
Khodarkovsky's game is rather interesting. In this R+B vs. R+B, his king is kind of tied up dancing around White's pieces, but at the same time, when not dancing, he's pushing is outside passed baby queens toward their birthing center.
After a furious exchange of pieces, Mac's game has turned into a very unbalanced position. Mac has a Queen and two pawns for Kaufman's Bishop, Knight, and Rook. Point-wise it is straight up, but Molner's queen is well-positioned, and if he can take advantage of it before Kaufman manages to coordinate his pieces, then he's in good shape.
Blehm make what looked like a threatening move, but Joel has calmly and quickly moved his queen to g3, attacking Blehm's queen and threatening further to simplify the position. Joel would be living off the increment, but in a materially equal endgame.
The Knockouts are low on time on all the other boards too. Molder has three-and-a-half minutes left, but Khodarkovsky and Benjamin have less than two minutes each.
And Aviv has resigned. The mating attack was just too strong. The Knockouts are down 0.0 - 1.0 to the Kingfishers.
Uh-oh. It looks like Board 2 is in bad shape for the Knockouts. Enkhbat has what appears to be a crushing attack against Friedman. He's just sacced a Rook for what appears to be a smash up mating attack.
Molner is still trying to figure out a way to wipe out Kaufman, and hope his knight sac was not in vain.
Another Mac sac! He let go of his light-squared bishop for another rook lift. If he can pull this out, he's definitely in contention for game of the week again... although Irina Krush's rook sac in her game is also pretty.
Here is Mac's game...
Battsetseg - Khodarkovsky is looking pretty drawish. Michael's pawns are on square colors that complement his bishop, but there's a lot of harmonic tension in the position. My guess is that they are going for a repetition soon.
Mac's pieces are all posed for the attack. He's standing up now, striking an imposing figure over the physical board. The smack is back!
I've been too busy watching the games to actually blog. For which I apologize. Profusely.
What I did notice that Mac's attack ain't wack, and we're gonna see a sac, that will hack Black.
Ratings for the games at the 10:00pm hour.
Board 1: 72 observers (+9%)
Board 2: 30 observers (=0%)
Board 3: 27 observers (+4%)
Board 4: 21 observers (=0%)
While we await the photos of the donuts at the Boston Blitz site, let's check out Aviv's game on Board 2. It looks like there are three little two pawn islands for White, while Aviv (as Black) has a three-pawn island on both coasts of the board. Aviv is lining up his heavy pieces to fire at the central island. Clocks are approximately equal.
On Board 1, Joel is currently playing from the screen, not the physical board.
On Board 2, Aviv is angled between the screen and the board, but mostly looking at the board itself.
On Board 3, Molner is close to the screen, with his hand poised on the mouse.
On Board 4, Khodarkovsky is ignoring the screen, and his hunched over the board, hand ovre mouth, thumb on cheek.
On Board 4, we have a pretty equal looking endgame, although Khodarkovsky is down a bit on time. Nevertheless, it is R+B vs. R+B and bishops are same color and pawns are equal. Looks drawish.
Indeed, Blehm is having a long think about what to do with a pawn stuck in his throat.
On Board 1, GM Joel and GM Blehm are getting ready to set up the pieces for a game of Fischer Random. Pieces are slowly moving back to the first couple of ranks.
Actually, you know what it really reminds me of. A cat. Both sides, actually. A cat that this ready to spring forth and pounce on a rodent. The pieces on both sides are lying in wait for the opportunity to strike.
Molner is viscious. He's castled on the queenside (opposite), moved his king a tad safer to b1, and has now started another attack against poor Kaufman's king. He grabbed the mouse, pressed and held the mouse-button for a perceptible instant, while slowly -- with the deliberation of a Senator pondering a response to a question from an Ethics committee -- shifting his mouse cursor north, guiding his determined and grim h-pawn toward its ultimate sacrificial goal, of smashing the living crap out of the pawn shield that feebly guards Kaufman's emasculated monarch.
Ratings for the games at the 9:00pm hour.
Board 1: 61 observers (+43%)
Board 2: 30 observers (+20%)
Board 3: 26 observers (+4%)
Board 4: 21 observers (+5%)
Let's move onto Board 4. The Knockouts' assistant manager, Michael Khodarkovsky, played his Alekhine against his opponent, WIM Tsagaan Battseteg. As you may know, Michael is the president of the Kasparov Chess Foundation, and was a coach/manager of the 2004 US Women's Olympiad team. Michael may be mumbling "oil can" to shake off the rust, but he's already in a dynamic position, lining up the big guns on White's isolated d-pawn. I sense there may be a big exchange of pieces soon.
Let's see what Big Mac is up to on Board 3. As everyone knows, Mac was inexplicably ripped off in a complete travesty of justice as he missed out on the Game of the Week prize (he lost to this pedestrian effort) with his brilliant win from late September (which you can replay here), and the USCL tried to justify their shameful voting in this post.
Anyway, he's attempting to win the prize again this week, as he is gobbling up space on Kaufman's side of the board, and showing once again, that the French reputation (shrink and surrender) is not wholly undeserved.
On Board 2, Enkhbhat declined the draw by playing 15. Qc4. He will regret that Aviv gave him an opportunity to live and play another day. Now, the crushing begins.
Only 75 minutes in, and Friedman has offered a draw to his opponent on board 2!
Back to Board 2... FM Aviv Freidman has traded off three minor pieces a side, to reach what appears to me to be a relatively equal position. Both sides have a Knight and their heavy pieces, Aviv has a 3-2 majority on the queenside, but his e-pawn is pretty far advanced and looks lonely. It might need some more protection at some point soon.
The destruction has begun. GM Joel has blasted open the a-file for his rook, who smartly stayed at home, while the Fish's rook, went, um... fishing on the b-file, looking for a tasty snack. All he found was a worm, and GM Joel is poised to gut him and fry him. Perhaps with a bit of tarragon and a side of leeks.
Let's look back in a little more depth at the situation on the boards.
On Board 1, the DMZ seems to be the line separating the fourth and fifth rank. No one seems willing to cross it. The real question is, though... where will the pawn break occur? Will the a-file open up for both sides? What about the center? Who will make the first pawn capture? Both sides just castled. When will the destruction begin??
The coffee is excellent tonight. And the donuts, well... The munchkins are covered with Halloween-theme-colored sprinkles. And the sprinkles are crunchy, not chewy.
As I said, Mac Molner, New Jersey's third board tonight, just completed the World Junior Championship. You can see the final standings at their website, here.
Ratings for the games at the 8:00pm hour.
Board 1: 43 observers
Board 2: 25 observers
Board 3: 25 observers
Board 4: 20 observers
Finally, on Board 1, GM Joel Benjamin has forcefully slammed his finger down on the mouse, when he smashed out 3 Bb5+ to his unsuspecting, and fashionably late, opponent, GM Pawel Blehm. Blehm tried the supposedly more unusual reply 3...Nbd7, and they are only at move 6, already 40 minutes into the game.
On Board 2, the Knockouts' late roster replacement, FM Aviv "Sveshi" Friedman has surprised his opponent FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat with a Chigorin Defense. Morozevich would be proud. Aviv has clearly shaken off the rust of his long layoff, and will soon be tempting the Kingfisher with his wily ways.
On Board 3, the Knockouts' Mackensie "Big Mac Attack" Molner, is White against IM Larry Kaufman. Molner just returned last week from a solid showing at the World Junior Championships in Armenia. Despite starting ranked 60th, he finished in a tie for 48th-56th, with 6.0/13.0, and a performance rating 122 points over his FIDE rating. The experience he gained there is bound to help him in the White side of Kaufman's French Defense.
A quick look around the four boards before a deeper look. Let's start with Board 4. The Knockouts Assistant Manager and Team Alternate Michael Khodarkovsky, has played the Alekhine defense against US Women's Championship participant WIM Tsagaan Battseteg. They have already hit move 8, and Khodarkovsky's fianchettoed bishop aims at White's pawn center, consisting of a c- and d-pawn.
Three of the four games have started. GM Joel Benjamin has been unable to start his game as his opponent is late. We're the only team that seems to get to the matches on time!
Everyone has arrived, and the matches are about to start. We are waiting on the Fish to swim up to our hooks.
GM Joel Benjamin and his wife Debbie are here. Mac Molner just walked in. Ready to hook the fish.