Monday, August 31, 2009

Blaze on Familiar Ground for Season Opener

Underdogs vs. Arizona, not for the first time

The pairings for this season’s first match, between the Chicago Blaze and the Arizona Scorpions, have been posted on the U.S. Chess League site, and as the teams get ready for the opening salvos of their 2009 title quests, the Windy City squad finds itself on familiar territory: as underdogs.

Here’s the lineup, in which Arizona has a ratings advantage on every board:

Board 1
GM Alejandro Ramirez vs. GM Nikola Mitkov (Chicago)

Board 2
FM Florin Felecan (Chicago) vs IM Levon Altounian

Board 3
FM Robby Adamson vs. IM Mehmed Pasalic (Chicago)

Board 4
Trevor Magness (Chicago) vs. David Adelberg

This is not a new situation for Chicago. The Blaze were underdogs in many if not most of their maiden-season matches last year, yet they managed to draw or win several of those contests. As a result, the team came that close to earning a playoff berth in its expansion-team season, staying in contention until the final game of the final match. Being down is nothing new for the Blaze, yet they've managed to carve out an impressive record of success despite the odds.

It’s a good thing, too because in the Scorpions, we face a formidable opponent. The Blaze faced Arizona twice last year and lost both times. This year they may be stronger, having added GM Ramirez to their roster. The Scorpions have a lot of resources, too, having just added the popular site to its prodigious list of corporate sponsors. No wonder the team's manager, FM Robby Adamson, predicts victory for the Scorpions over the Blaze.

But to paraphrase the late Bobby Fischer, sponsorships don’t win chess games; strong moves do. The Blaze will be ready Wednesday night. The action begins at 8:00 Central time at the Holiday Inn Skokie (5300 West Touhy). Fans are welcome, so please come and cheer the team or follow them on the Internet Chess Club. We’ll also try to post reports on Twitter.

Hope to see you one way or another, either virtually or in person, as the 2009 Chicago Blaze season gets under way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We're on Facebook

The Blaze now has its own Facebook page. Go here to become a fan, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter, too. Thanks.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Being Eric Rosen

Chicago-area junior beats GM, earns master title at U.S. Open

Several years ago some creative, young chess players of the kind New York City has in abundance put on an act at the Marshall Chess Club entitled "Being John Fedorowicz," an allusion to a popular movie of the day about experiencing the bizarre thrill of actually "being" the actor John Malkovich, even if only for a few minutes.

The exact context all that may be fuzzy to us a decade later, but it remains nevertheless clear that John Fedorowicz, the well-known East Coast grandmaster is, like the John Lennon's working-class hero of lore, someone to be.

On this particular Monday, however, an equally cool person to be is Niles North High School sophomore, Blaze player, and newly minted chess master Eric Rosen, who beat GM Fedorowicz in a miniature yesterday at the U.S. Open.

Young Eric, with the Black pieces, kept his powder dry while the grandmaster's early kingside pawn push created an open diagonal for Eric's queen, which he thrust with alacrity onto White's sixth rank, there to wreak havoc. The senior player resigned on move 16.

It was the first victory against a grandmaster for the rapidly advancing young chess star and came just days after Eric achieved a draw against GM Jesse Kraai at the same tournament.

Oh, yes, and by the way: The game capped off an impressive 6.5/9 performance for Eric at the Open, which will put his rating over the 2200 mark. He is now a national master. Congratulations, Eric.

See the Fedorowicz game below.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Eric Rosen Draws GM Kraai at U.S. Open

Congratulations to one of the newest members of the Chicago Blaze, Niles North High School sophomore Eric Rosen, of Skokie, who played GM Jesse Kraai to a draw at the U.S. Open in Indianapolis yesterday. Eric, a strong expert playing at a deficit of several hundred rating points vis-a-vis the New Mexico grandmaster, hung on to force a stalemate.

Though down a pawn in the endgame, Eric, with the Black pieces, managed the exchange of rooks in a way that prevented GM Kraai from promoting his last remaining pikeman. Congratulations, Eric.

See the game below.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blaze Schedule 2009

The 2009 U.S. Chess League season begins in less than a month, and the Blaze kick off this year's campaign, same as last year, with a match against the Arizona Scorpions. The whole schedule appears below.

The Blaze play their matches at the Holiday Inn Skokie, 5300 West Touhy Avenue, Skokie, Illinois. Fans are welcome to attend the games free of charge, so please come and cheer your team. If you can't make it to the Holiday Inn you can tune in to the matches live on the Internet Chess Club (membership required). You can also follow us on Twitter.

Week 1 - Wednesday, September 2nd
Arizona Scorpions vs Chicago Blaze
9:00 PM ET (8:00 Central)

Week 2 - Wednesday, September 9th
Chicago Blaze vs Miami Sharks
8:00 PM ET (7:00 Central)

Week 3: Wednesday, September 16th
Tennessee Tempo vs Chicago Blaze
8:00 PM ET (7:00 Central)

Week 4: Monday September 21st
Chicago Blaze vs San Francisco Mechanics
8:30 PM ET (7:30 Central)

Week 5: Wednesday, September 30th
New Jersey Knockouts vs Chicago Blaze
8:00 PM ET (7:00 Central)

Week 6: Monday, October 5th
Chicago Blaze vs Philadelphia Inventors
8:00 PM ET (7:00 Central)

Week 7: Wednesday, October 14th
Chicago Blaze vs Tennessee Tempo
8:00 PM ET (7:00 Central)

Week 8: Monday, October 19th
Chicago Blaze vs Arizona Scorpions
9:00 PM ET (8:00 Central)

Week 9: Monday, October 26th
Dallas Destiny vs Chicago Blaze
8:00 PM ET (7:00 Central)

Week 10: Wednesday, November 4th
Seattle Sluggers vs Chicago Blaze
9:00 PM ET (8:00 Central)