Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Well, the most anticipated match of the season thus far has passed, with a hard-fought 2-2 tie. I beat FM Slava Mikhailuk, while on board 1, IM Josh Friedel beat GM Gregory Serper; unfortunately, we lost on boards 3 and 4, as both FM John Readey and Michael Lee came through for their team. And amusingly enough, just like the WC match that finished in a tie during the regular games in Elista, there was some controversy over this match.

The match lineups, as usual, went up on Sunday evening at 9 PM Pacific. I would have the black pieces against IM Eric Tangborn, while David would have the white pieces against Mikhailuk. Then the fun began ...

There was some confusion on the Seattle end as to who was actually available to play for them, and as a result, David and I had no clue who we would be playing until Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Seattle lineup knew who we'd be fielding, and were more than able to prepare accordingly. Because of the late lineup switches (going from Tangborn/Mikhailuk to Mikhailuk/Readey), Seattle was assessed a time penalty, and David and I started with 85 minutes to their 65 minutes. On the other two boards, where no lineup changes were made, both players started with 75 minutes.

As to the games, mine was surprisingly easy. For whatever reason, Slava didn't seem familiar with a line I thought he played regularly, and started eating up the clock. He should already have been fighting for equality after I played 9...c5, but he continued to press. By the time he played 13.Rd1, he was already clearly worse, and after 17.Nxd4, he was clearly lost on the board and on the clock. After 18...e5, he could have played 19.Qe3, but then I have 19...Nd5! 20.Qe4 (not 20.Qf3, as then 20...Nxf4+ 21.gxf4 exd4 wins) Qa8!, and the threats along the a8-h1 diagonal decide the game. White can try 21.Bxe5 - hoping for 21...Ne3+ 22.Kf3 Qxe4+ 23.Kxe4 Nxd1, but there's no reason to even give White that glimmer of a chance - Black can respond with 21...f5!, and if 22.Qxf5? Ne3+ wins, while if 22.Qf3 Nxe5 decides.

On board 4, Sam got an ok position out of the opening, but then lost his way and forgot the develop his queenside. 16...Bf7 was the first culprit, in my opinion, giving up the option to recapture on e4 with the f-pawn (as without that bishop on e6, White has f4-f5). Playing something like 16...a6 or 16...Nbd7 seemed to make more sense. Near the end of the game, his sense of danger seemed to let him down, as his queenside was too undeveloped and kingside too weak to survive the attack.

On board 3, David got a typically unbalanced position out of the opening. I'm not quite sure what miscalculation was made in the middlegame, but he ended up down a couple pawns for essentially no compensation. However, he fought back and just when he had serious drawing chances, he blundered badly and lost the point.

And, as usual, our board 1 game was the longest one of the match. Josh came through in the end, though, converting an advantage that he had nursed from the opening to a Queen versus Rook (and pawns) endgame. Things seemed to get a little hairy after Serper's exchange sac, especially as I had thought that White would be in trouble after 27...Rc3 (following 27.d3-d4); Black threatens to take on e3, and after 28.Rh3, he can play 28...Qe4 setting up some rather annoying pins. However, as Josh explained afterwards, everything was under control there and with 29.Qf2 f5 30.exf6 Nxf6 31.Rg3!, White stays on top. With Serper having to retreat his rook rather than face that fate, Josh continued to outplay his opponent in mutual time pressure and brought us to a 2-2 tie.

Thanks to the tie, we kept out position as best in the West, moving to a 6-1 record, while Seattle is half a point behind, at 5.5-1.5. Next week we get Tennesse, while Seattle has to swim with the Sharks. And all that is just a prelude to a Week 9 rematch against the Sluggers ...


At 4:12 PM, Blogger Ronan Jimson said...

Hi Vinay, I want to introduce you to

At 5:04 PM, Blogger JG said...

Vinay, you should read this:
"I am still very upset about what was done to the Sluggers as we should be in the lead now by half a point over SF, instead of the other way around as with more time I am sure Slava would have at least drawn." --Ballard
Seems like a strange assessment of the situation. I guess by the end of the game he was low on time, but really it was after there was already a lot of pressure. I don't really want to insult Slava at all, I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy, it's Danail-- I mean Ballard that's really putting an ugly face on that team.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger JG said...

oh, the link his here:

At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! I was proud of Mechanics but after reading the whining of that Seattle guy I am disappointed that Mechanics didn't wipe them out 4-0!
Suck it up Seattle and take some responsibility!! equipment problems, I am working too hard (okay, so get another manager for the team) 16 hour days, waaaa! waaaa!


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