Friday, September 25, 2009

A Geld Medal Performance (by Joel Benjamin)

by Joel Benjamin

Payback is sweet.

To paraphrase my good friend HOF GM Johnny (who the NY Knights have not let out of the stable yet), I have nothing against the Knights; I just hate them. It has already been pointed out that Giorgi Kacheishvili is a gentleman of the highest order, and the same is certainly true about Pascal Charbonneau. [Perhaps not true about Fed, but I like him anyway.] But really, after they quashed our playoff plans two years in a row, it is intensely satisfying to sweep them this year. [Good thing we got them early this season. Apparently the Gothamites don’t wake up until about round six.]

With limited time for blogging due to all my teaching, writing and daddying responsibilities, I usually focus on my own game of the match. But I don’t really want to say too much about my game with Kacheishvili.

It seems Giorgi didn’t pay much attention to the thrashing his countryman Mchedlishvili (I’m glad I just have to write that and not pronounce it) suffered at the hands of Nigel Short and didn’t prepare for 2.Ne2 in the Caro-Kann. I was handed a winning position on a silver platter, a pawn up for absolutely nothing. The only problem was choosing between a vast array of delicacies, which for some reason is difficult for me.

I think I did okay until move 18, when Bxf7+ would have led to an easily winning position, or even better, 18.Rxf7!. I was actually quite proud of 18.Bc2, thinking that Black had no chance to survive my kingside attack, but I overlooked some nuances (21…Bxc3 for starters) and soon I wasn’t winning anymore. I probably had some way to at least maintain an edge, but when you get in bad time pressure (for no particular reason) you can’t expect to find subtleties. Shortly before the end Giorgi tendered a pretty reasonable draw offer which I didn’t even notice until after I moved. We headed into that direction anyway, with an unusual perpetual check.

[I think Giorgi and I had only played once despite competing in several tournaments together for many years. Now we’ve played three times in one month!]

This is what I really want to talk about. Boris...Gulko. I want to put an adjective in the middle of his name, one with a few asterisks followed by a gerund. Anybody read the King’s Gambit by Paul Hoffman? Remember the nickname he mentioned for Rustam Kasimdzhanov? Well, that’s what I want to call Boris. After beating Pascal in an awesome game, Bo is now 5-0 for the Knockouts. It’s true that four of those games were whites, and he hasn’t had to play on board one, but his opposition hasn’t been too shabby and he’s won most of those games easily. This one certainly wasn’t easy. Pascal missed a kibitzer-pleasing miracle draw late in the game...

Instead of 55.Nf5, 55.Nd5!! forces Black to acquiesce to a stalemate.

But still, Boris was winning a move earlier with 54…Nf2 (instead of 54…Ke6). And the way Boris constructed a mating attack with so few pieces was impressive.

When Boris and I did a photo shoot for a local magazine last summer, I decided to ask him to join the Knockouts. I didn’t know what to expect; would he feel invested in the team, would he thrive in the Internet milieu? I figured we had nothing to lose with a player of his caliber, but I have to admit, I did not expect total domination.

Boris is so awesome, he’s really awe-a lot. I think he deserves a cool nickname. As the one who dubbed Alex Yermolinsky “the Yerminator,” I think I’m the right man for the job. Boris arrives for each game wearing the traditional head covering for Orthodox Jewish males. Therefore, he is “the Yarminator.” All bow before his awesome power.

Anna Matlin played a nice game against Norowitz, but like our first board, took way too much time on her moves. Matt Herman seems to be a player that thrives in wild, complicated positions, but he played a stronger version of himself. You just don’t get into a street fight with Molner, or you wind up the victim of a Big Mac Attack.

Next week we try for 5-0, staying up late for the Chicago Blaze. I’m not much for trash talking, but I believe we will get the job done, even if we have to face a lineup of four Ditkas.

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