Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inventive Play

By hook or crook the Blaze find a way not to lose

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
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.
top photo: Betsy Dynako
slide show photos: Daniel Parmet


Anonymous said...

What the heck was Mitkov-Lenderman? Wasn't Lenderman down a piece and also getting mated after Rxf7 (instead of Nxf7) threatening Qg4?

Anonymous said...

Hey, these comments are really un-called-for and unkind. I might be a chess master but I am not a celebrity. People write what they want about celebrities because they are compensated. Me, on the other hand--the "chess community" treats me like dirt. What chess has given me is a miserable life, utter poverty, and--most likely--an early death. So listening to insulting comments from random people who do not give their names is just the icing on the cake, i guess? I have never seen more insulting reporting on chess than in the USCL. It is not necessary.

Bryan Smith

Anonymous said...

You failed to mention several things while vividly describing this game:

1) Because I did not know we were playing on Monday, I did not find out about the game until about 10 minutes after it started. By the time I got to the club I started with about half as much time as my opponent, which is considerable odds.

2) For the same reason I had absolutely no opening preparation and was not ready to play in any other way (I had been out with some friends when I was called and had had some drinks)

3) The "cool endgame" where you described the "abject terror" of my king or some other such thing was nothing like this. I would have resigned when I blundered the game away in one move if it were not a team match.

4) Instead of the blunder Red1, the move Re3 would have been extremely hard to meet. Red1, on the other hand, loses immediately. At this moment there was a distraction at the club where we played.

In general though I am not making any excuses, I just think it is very unkind for someone who is (presumably) not playing to take pot-shots at someone who is. Without leaving your name. This is not pro-football or something. The players are not getting paid millions of dollars to endure this stuff, and I am sick and tired of it.

Jan van de Mortel said...

I'm not sure who posted what, but my guess is that the last two comments are by my opponent.

Personally, I can't really see anything to take offense to here. OK, the game is not represented as it was experienced by either player, but this is how the author, an observer, saw it.

Either way, the author should not be blamed for 'the miserable life' chess has given my opponent. If you're in it for the money ('compensation', 'millions of dollars'), the world of chess is the wrong place to be in.

Also, how can the author 'fail to mention' things he, or perhaps anyone besides my opponent, is not expected to be aware of?

As for the game, the time advantage at the start was considerable and the opening was no success for White (particularly 11.Nd5?). Black is probably better, which is why I played 20...Qa7, where 20...b3 leads to a drawn endgame.

I again avoided a draw after 25.Bf6! (setting up a possible perpetual check, e.g. 25...Bd5 26.Qxg6 fxg6 27.Rxg7 Kh8 28.Rf7=), since at that time Lenderman was winning against Mitkov.

The move 26.Red1 came as a pleasant surprise and Black is winning after that (and the 'cool' endgame was the easiest way to do it). I was very relieved, since White's attack would have been quite dangerous after 26.Re3 (threatening Rxf7 and Rg3), or 26.g4.

My feeling was that time would have become a deciding factor and that the game could go either way at that point.

As for the other games, Nikola Mitkov played a great game against Alex Lenderman, whose frivolous piece sacrifice was soundly refuted. However, he got very short of time, did see the various winning variations involving Qg4, but opted to just stop the passed pawns instead. As we know, they turned out to be menacing pair and Lenderman's finish was ruthless.

On board 3, Philadelphia also suffered a big time deficit, replacing their player at the last second, bringing in Richard Costigan. Florin Felecan kept pressing throughout the game and was probably winning for one move (58.Ke6) in the rook endgame.

On 4, Eric Rosen was pushed against the wall by Kavinayan Sivakumar, but managed to claw his way out of trouble going into a drawable pawn-down rook endgame

Overall, the match was ours to take, but it was not to be.

Anonymous said...

I am glad the USCL exists - I don't have a favorite team, but I like to watch the games and go over them almost every week. I have to say that while some people have been known to be less than tactful (either in predicting matches or overall attitude towards other players), the report above is not rude or unkind. I think perhaps some of the language, meant as poetic license, was taken personally. It's not that the player "looked on in horror", it's mean to convey how the white king would feel. It's not that the player is "powerless", it's that the king (personified) could not help. I like reports that add a little flavor, beyond a rote and boring overview of the results. Do not let someone's misunderstanding (or highly sensitive nature) stop you from writing these updates. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


If you are so disgusted with being a chess professional (and the comments you make, has you sounding highly unprofessional), then just leave the world of chess. Maybe it will do you better. But complaining as you did is absolutely ridiculous.

What type of a team player are you also that you did not know that you were scheduled to play or when your own team was playing their match?

A poor performance is just that - a poor performance. Don't turn it into a poor showing of your character.

And regardless of what line of work someone is in, thick skin is required. You're just displaying that you have a thick head.

Tom Panelas said...


A couple of thoughts.

1. I certainly didn't mean to be unkind to you in my comments on the game, simply to give Jan some credit for winning. You're correct that I'm a fan, not a player, and I do realize that playing is a lot harder than blogging. But as I'm sure you folks in Philly can understand, since you're in the same position we are, there haven't been too many opportunities for us to cheer this year, and I was trying capitalize on one of them.

2. I don't understand why you say I didn't leave my name, though. It appears at the bottom of the post.

3. Anonymous 1:08 has it right about the emotions of shock and horror. I was anthropomorphizing your king, attributing those emotions to "him," not you. Yes, it was a cheap narrative/rhetorical device to lend drama to an endgame that, as I've been given to understand by collegues more knowlegeable about chess than I am, didn't really call for it. I'll never do it again.

4. I don't want to be implicated in the untimely demise of a great chess player; there are too few of you already. How can I make it up to you?

Anonymous said...

Ok sorry for getting so worked up, I was in a very bad mood at the time. It was not so much this report but also others connected with the USCL which have upset me, and perhaps I took it out on this blog. I already did not want to play this season because I knew this goes on (combined with my own difficulties with playing long games over a computer, which makes me play very badly usually).

Sometimes I have seen people write about others (not just me) very disgracefully. I think it is the team aspect of this combined with some kind of "team pride" (taken from sports) that causes this. But people forget that chess is an individual game and the players are not public people. It is quite different from heckling the visiting players in a football game or something.

As for complaining about chess as a profession-well I know it is not a good one, and of course i started because I love the game, but unfortunately having spent so much time and effort on it, I have got stuck. Obviously I try to leave but cannot find anything else, like many others. But the fact is that there is a lot of injustice here. People do make a living from chess, just for the most part actual credentials in chess are not valued or rewarded.

Bryan Smith

Tom Panelas said...

No, problem; it's cool. And you're right: nobody in the USCL gets paid enough to take the kind of public ridicule professional athletes get.

By the way, as soon as I become obscenely rich I plan to establish a national Chess Master in Residence program in which all strong chess players in the country will get a regular salary with medical and pension benefits and maybe housing and relocation incentives to encourage players to move to where the needs are greatest.

Salary will be based on playing strengths. IMs will earn $75,000+, GMs maybe $100,000, FMs, NMs, and experts a bit less. Duties will consist of teaching, playing, conducting simuls, and generally promoting the game.

As soon as the money falls into my lap it's as good as done.