The 2011 US Chess League championship match between the Chicago Blaze and the New York Knights turned out to be more of a letdown or a whimper for fans of the vaunted Blaze, while Knights’ followers were more than pleased to watch an upset unfold. The Blaze had a league-best regular-season record of 8.5 -1.5, while the Knights had a less than stellar 6-4 score - but the mystery was the composition of the Blaze team. Its championship lineup consisted of just its third, fourth, fifth, and ninth highest rated players. Absent were Blaze stars Yury Shulman and Josh Friedel. The Knights, on the other hand, played their first-, third-, fifth-, and ninth-rated players and had a small two-point team rating advantage. Nevertheless, the match was a tossup as the Knights had higher ratings on the first and second boards and lower ratings on the third and fourth boards.
The Knights started with an early victory on fourth board by Gopal Menon over John Fernandez. On the third board, New York’s Matt Herman had an even game, but Chicago’s Angelo Young gradually turned the tide, and Herman, in a bad position, lost quickly after a mouse slip. On the second board, Irina Krush was a pawn down against Dmitry Gurevich, but in an opposite color bishop ending, she managed to hold the draw. That left the match up to New York’s first board, Giorgi Kacheishvili, and the Blaze’s Mesgen Amanov. Even though he was rated higher than his opponent, by some 77 points, Kacheishvili forced the exchange of queens and rooks leaving only minor pieces on the board in an even position.
Kacheishvili persisted, however, liquidating his opponent’s center pawns and promoting a pawn. This promotion cost Amanov a piece. Kacheisvili then went on to trap his opponent’s knight and gradually nipped all his opponent’s pawns. Though he seemed to have had a clear win by eventually queening his last pawn, Kacheisvili decided to swap it for White’s last bishop. The result was a bishop, knight, and king vs. king ending.
This ending is a win for the side with the minor pieces, though many players don’t bother to learn how to handle this rarity; as it is said to occur only once every 5,000 games or so. The trick is to keep the king confined while driving it to the corner of the same color as your bishop. For Kacheishvili, the position was duck soup. He gradually pushed his opponent’s king into a corner and dispatched it. Amanov had soldiered to the end but the Knights toppled the great Blaze team and became the champs.
Brevity: M. Vilenchuk v. J. Becerra-Rivero (2011) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Bd3 h6 9.Ne4 Nd5 10.Ng3 g6 11.Be4 f5 12.Bxd5 cxd5 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.0-0 Bb7 15.Qb5 Qd7 16.c4 Nd4 17.Qxd7+ Kxd7 18.Nc3 dxc4 19.Nce2 Ba6 20.Re1; 0-1 (As 20… Nc2 wins material.)
Winners: Boylston Club Quads, Nov. Quad 1, R. Perez 3-0, C. Chase 2-1; Quad 2, Charles Fauman 2.5-.5 Siddarth Arun and Vikas Shiva, 1.5-1.5; Metrowest Trick or Treat: 1st, Vadim Martirosov, 3-1; Under 2000: Ames Abbot 3.5-.5.
Coming Events: NE Senior Open and NE Amateur, Dec. 9-11 or 10-11; NE. Scholastics Championships, all at Sheraton Hotel, Bradley Airport, Windsor Locks, Conn.; www.chesstour.com/neso11.htm; BCC Grand Prix, Dec. 10, 240B Elm St., Somerville, www.boylstonchessclub.org.