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This past week, the New Jersey Knockouts tied their match against the Seattle Sluggers, 2-2. New Jersey now sits firmly in third place in the Eastern division, with a 1.5-1.5 record.
We'll get to board 1 in a minute.
On Board 2, the last game to finish, veteran GM, former Soviet and US Champion, and USCL rookie, Boris Gulko, slowly out played his opponent IM Eric Tangborn, and scored the full point. One of the funnier comments that appeared in the chat leading up to this game was given by IM Mark Ginsburg, who said the Gulko could give a simul to the whole Seattle team.
On Board 3, Mac Molner had black against John Readey. A tense game, in which Mac couldn't quite get a kingside attack going, and ended with a repetition.
On Board 4, the KO's Jayson Lian matched up against Josh Sinanan. Jayson was winning toward the end of the game, but low on time, fell into a repetition. The repetition wasn't easy to see, because it didn't come from the more typical alternation of moves, but from a series of different moves leading to the same position.
Back to Board 1, where captain GM Joel Benjamin fell with black to now-nearly-2700-FIDE, and new Seattle Slugger, GM Hikaru Nakamura. While it seemed like Nakamura's opening was taken from a page out of GM Joel's 1987 book "Unorthodox Openings", Nakamura actually claimed that they reached a "relatively standard" opening position.
Indeed, we're in for another treat, as GM Joel sent me some annotations on the crucial parts of the game. I present them here (and blame me for the title, not Joel).
Don't Cry For Me, Nakamura - The Truth Is... (by GM Joel Benjamin)
Wednesday night was a heartbreaker. Jayson played so well, only to be tripped up by a three-time repetition.
I can’t cry about my loss to Nakamura, but the game has been portrayed as two things it’s not...
- A game of the week candidate
1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nc3 e5 5.e4 Bg4 6.f3 Be6 7.Nh3 Bc5 8.Qe2 dxe4 9.dxe4 Qd4 10.Nd1 Bc4 11.c3 Qd3 12.Bf1 Qxe2+ 13.Bxe2 Be6 14.Nhf2 Nbd7 15.f4 exf4 16.gxf4 Nb6 17.b4 Bxf2+ 18.Nxf2 Bc4 19.Rg1 0-0-0 20.Rxg7 (D)
Here I played 20...Rhe8?? and after 21.e5 Nd5 22.Rxf7 I noticed that the planned 22…Nxb4 leads to nothing after 23.Bxc4 Nc2+ 24.Ke2 Nxc4 (24…Nxa1 25.Bd3) 25.Rb1. Heck, even 20...Rhg8 was better. I wish I had taken more time on that move. But I should have played…
20...Bxe2 21.Kxe2 Nxe4!! 22.Nxe4 Rhe8 (D - analysis)
Black recoups the piece with an unclear position. White can win a pawn or two in some lines, but he is in danger of losing his bishop. Feel free to run your chess engines on this one. Those of you who scoffed at 19…0-0-0, I accept your apologies now.
I didn’t see the sacrifice during the game, but found it moving the pieces around after the game, and I showed it to my teammates. I’m not one to make excuses for losing (other than when I’m joking), but this possibility should be noted by all those who attempted to assess this game.