The winner: IM Jan van de Mortel
Confounding the league prognosticators who had picked us to go down, the Chicago Blaze fought to the very end last night and found a way not to lose to the favored Philadelphia Inventors. With a victory on Board 2 and draws on Boards 3 and 4, the Blaze played the Brotherly Love contingent to a 2-2 draw.
It was IM Jan van de Mortel who supplied the key win, playing Black against the higher-rated IM Bryan Smith. In a cool endgame, Jan sacrificed the exchange on Move 39, freeing himself to create a passed pawn that tied up White’s remaining rook while Jan’s unmolested king went to work picking off White’s kingside pawns. Meanwhile, the out-of-position White king, powerless to stop the carnage, looked on in horror from the back rank. Smith resigned on Move 47.
Jan’s win was abetted by FM Florin Felecan and NM Eric Rosen, who held on to draw their opponents.
Here are the games:
1. GM Nikola Mitkov (CHC) vs IM Alex Lenderman (PHI) 0-1
2. IM Bryan Smith (PHI) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 0-1
3. FM Florin Felecan (CHC) vs IM Richard Costigan (PHI) 1/2-1/2
4. Kavinayan Sivakumar (PHI) vs NM Eric Rosen (CHC) 1/2-1/2
Special thanks to William Shehan, majordomo of the Midway Chess Club, who served as our Celebrity Tournament Director for the evening.
Our record now stands at 1.5-4 with four games left in the regular season. A victory last night would have done a great deal more for our playoff hopes, though if we can put together a string of wins in the weeks ahead we’ll keep our chances alive.
Our next match is a week from tomorrow against the Tennessee Tempo, a much-improved team this year that will be looking for revenge for three previous Blaze victories over them, including one this season. They have the ability to put a super-GM on Board 1, so they’ll be tough. Please tune in and watch the game on the Internet Chess Club or the play-by-play with commentary provided by Midway.
slide show photos: Daniel Parmet