Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seattle Power Lineup Nips Blaze

Well, you can’t win ‘em all. Last night, the Chicago Blaze went up against one of the strongest lineups a USCL team has brought to the boards this year and came up short, losing to the Seattle Sluggers 2.5-1.5.

The Sluggers, who had struggled in the early weeks of the season, put a lot on the line, with a lineup that included two grandmasters, including super-GM Hikaru Nakamura, the former U.S. chess champion. In one of the most anticipated games of the season, Nakamura, with the White pieces, outlasted Chicago’s GM Nikola Mitkov in the 70-move marathon.

IM Emory Tate (photo: Betsy Dynako)

Seattle’s other grandmaster, Gregory Serper, didn’t fare quite as well on the second board: he had to settle for a draw against IM Jan Van De Mortel of the Blaze, who played a tough and aggressive game against the higher-rated player. The game ended when both players ran out of mating material. (Actually, it went on for a bit even after that.)

The bright spot of the evening was IM Emory Tate, playing in his second match for the Blaze, who hung on to beat a tenacious NM Michael Lee. Emory thought he had a better position early in the game and said he was impressed with how long the youngster hung in there.

Emory does a postmortem with Adam Strunk

I only have eyes for chess. Eminent local chess personages Brad "Chessdad64" Rosen (left) and Larry Cohen cut up a bit during the match. The Blaze have fun even when they lose. Come and see sometime.

On Board 4, Adam Strunk of the Blaze lost two pawns to Seattle’s Andy May and wasn’t able to recover.

Here are the games.

1. GM Hikaru Nakamura (SEA) vs GM Nikola Mitkov (CHC) 1-0

2. IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) vs GM Gregory Serper (SEA) 1/2-1/2

NM Michael Lee (SEA) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 0-1

Adam Strunk (CHC) vs Andy May (SEA) 0-1

Click here for Seattle’s take on the match. Thanks to NM Len Weber for flawless tournament direction last night.

Next up: the Blaze play the Baltimore Kingfishers a week from Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

We'll get them next time and burn them to death.

Tom Panelas said...

Please don't take this the wrong way, but have you ever considered seeking professional help?

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to insult me? We called ourselves Chicago Blaze, so we burn our opponent so to speak.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Tom was trying to insult you. He probably just thought you were taking this thing a little to seriously.

Tom Panelas said...

No, I wasn't trying to insult anyone. The idea of burning people to death struck me as a bit unseemly. I'm glad you qualified it with "so to speak."

Anyway, I withdraw the question.

Mark Ginsburg said...

Nakamura's play didn't make sense at first glance, in particular the loosening sequence 10. f5, 12. h3, and 13. b4. There should probably be one giant question mark attached to the 'plan' (of confusing black).

The cold-blooded computer shows it was all a bluff and Mitkov could have won efficiently with 18...Rac8!. In all lines black quickly breaks through on the kingside, e5-e4 is happening and white can't stop it. Material gain and/or the utter ruination of white's position is forced.

The most gruesome variation is 18...Rac8 19. Qd2 (19. Qe2 e4 just wins) 19...Nc5! 20. Nc3 e4 21. Nxd5 Bxg3+ 22. Kg1 exf3!! and wins.

Another grotesque line is 19. Qb3 e4 20. Qxd5+ Rf7 21. Rxe4 Bxg3+ 22. Kh1 and now the bishop retreat to c7 or b8 decides.

glennpan said...


Great analysis! Watching Mitkov look at the game afterwards, Rac8 instead of Rfc8 is one of the first things he mentioned. I think he just wanted to alleviate the pin at the time, and was too concerned with the "bluff".

Nikola also showed a position later where he would have played Rxa2 and had 4 pawns for the piece and was very confident he was winning.

Despite missing the wins, I was really pleased with GM Mitkov's play and taking it to Nakamura. We would love to get another shot at that Seattle team, but will settle for edging them out of the playoffs.