Pummeled by the Pugilists

Knockouts squeak past Blaze 2.5-1.5

The hero of the night: NM Eric Rosen

In another close contest against a league leader that looked like it could have ended in a draw, the Blaze ultimately came up short Wednesday night, losing 2.5-1.5 to the New Jersey Knockouts, the only USCL team with a perfect record, which now improves to 5-0.

The Blaze, by contrast, fall to 1-4 at midseason and are in serious need of victories in the coming weeks if we are to keep our playoff hopes alive.

There are always bright spots, even in defeats, and this week’s was the victory by newly minted NM Eric Rosen over Jersey’s NM Andrew Ng in Eric’s first game as a Blazer. The game marks another milestone in the annus mirabilis that has been 2009 for the Niles North High School sophomore, who this year has earned the national master title, won the U.S. Junior Open, beaten one grandmaster, and drawn another. In the latest USCF rankings, Eric is number five nationally in his age group, his highest ever.

Though it certainly would have been a better match if we’d won or drawn, it was a good one nevertheless. The toughest assignment of the night went to Chicago's IM Jan van de Mortel, who had to face the former U.S. Champion GM Joel Benjamin with the Black pieces. Jan played a strong game that looked drawish in the middle game to some onlookers, but Benjamin was able to take control and win. FM Mehmed Pasalic fell behind in time to his higher-rated opponent, IM Albert Kapengut, and Jersey was able to put that one in the W column as well. In the final game of the night to end, IM Angelo Young struggled mightily for a victory that would have drawn the match, but before his kingside attack could get underway, his opponent, SM Mackenzie Molner, found strong counterplay and hung Angelo up on the queenside. The game ended in a draw. Remarkably, however, Angelo remains undefeated in USCL competition.

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GM Amanov and IM Felecan win IL Open 2009 with 5/6

On Labor Day weekend as always the 2009 IL State Championship took place at the Double Tree Hotel in Oak Brook, IL.

Over 100 people attended the event. The top section featured 2 GM’s Amanov and Gurevich, 2 IM’s Felecan and Young (Multiple times State Champion) as well as 2 FM’s Chow and Stamnov.

There were 2 schedules people could play in: the 3 day or the 2 day which had faster time control for the first few rounds. The standard time control was Game 120 with a 30-second increment.

The early leader was GM Amanov with 4/4; however he had to settle for draws in the last 2 rounds against Gurevich and Felecan. This meant that with a crunch win over IM Young in Round 5 IM Felecan was able to tie for first with GM Amanov, and both players are Illinois State Champion for 2009.

Tied for third place was GM Gurevich and non-titled player Gopal Menon, who doesn’t play very often but when he does watch out at the board. He defeated FM Chow, NM Murgescu and drew with NM Rosen while on his way to the great score of 4.5/6. GM Gurevich had a string of 3 draws in the last 3 rounds which kept him out of the top spot.

Matthew K. Wilber became an expert player at this tournament scoring 3.5/6. Wilber has improved his rating from 1600 in June 2009 to over 2000 now. That is proof that if you put your mind to something you can do it!

In the Reserve section Matthew Gruber Castillion ran way with the tournament scoring 5.5/6. Castillion drew his first game then won the last 5 games to take first place and gain 46 rating points. In second place with 5/6 was Siddarth S Datla

The Game 25 tournament in the evening sadly did not draw many players. Only 9 players took part and Tyler J Lerner scored 4/5 to take first place.

In the trophy tournament Michael Malis scored 5/5 to take clear first a point ahead of second place. His rating went up 205 points to 1177.

The next big tournament in Illinois is the Midwest Class in October; hopefully everyone can make it.

Frisco Holds Blaze at Bay

Chicago bows to Mechanics 2.5-1.5

It was a seesaw match that seemed at first to be going our way, but the storybook ending was not to be, as the San Francisco Mechanics held on, as widely predicted, to beat the Chicago Blaze last night 2.5-1.5.

The match, which went well past 11:00 PM Chicago time, ended when San Francisco’s GM Jesse Kraai succeeded in pushing an imminently promotable pawn down the g-file, against the valiant endgame efforts of Chicago’s FM Florin Felecan to prevent it, giving Kraai the game and San Francisco the edge in the match. The Blaze now fall to 1-3 after four weeks, with six matches left in the season.

Jan van De MortelAs usual, there were bright spots for the Blaze. In a game that should be in the running for the league’s new Upset of the Week prize, IM Angelo Young defeated IM Sam Shankland and maintained his undefeated record in USCL play. On Board 1, where Blaze players have often struggled, IM Jan van De Mortel (shown at left) held the much higher rated GM Josh Friedel to a draw.

Here are the games, by board number:

1. IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC)vs GM Josh Friedel (SF) 1/2-1/2

2. GM Jesse Kraai (SF) vs FM Florin Felecan (CHC) 1-0

3. IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs IMSam Shankland (SF) 1-0

4. NM Yian Liou (SF) vs IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) 1-0

Special thanks to NM Len Weber, who served as our Celebrity Tournament Director for the evening. Thanks also to GM Nikola Mitkov and Betsy Dynako, neither of whom had official duties with the team last night, for showing up and cheering the Blaze all the same. As always, we were honored to host Professor Gary Alan Fine of Northwestern University, who is following the Blaze and the USCL as part of a larger study on the sociology of chess. Finally, personal thanks to Chessdad64 (Brad Rosen), for a tough and interesting G/40 game.

Our next match is a week from Wednesday against the New Jersey Knockouts, who are jabbing their way through the league this year with a one-two combination of superb chess and bad puns. They’ll be tough, but we’ll be ready. Please join us next week and lend your voice to the cheering section. Go Blaze!

The Blaze Ignite

Chicago finally gets on the board with a 2.5-1.5 victory over Tennessee

It’s good to win. That was the sentiment at the Holiday Inn Skokie last night as the Chicago Blaze finally posted their first victory of the 2009 season, beating the Tennessee Tempo 2.5-1.5 and breaking a five-match losing streak that extended to the end of last season.

As might be expected, it was the ever-reliable IM Angelo Young, still undefeated in USCL play, who hit the Volunteer State crew first, with a victory over FM Todd Andrews to spur his teammates and even the score, after FM Florin Felecan, with the Black pieces and a near-impossible match-up against Jaan Ehlvest on Board 1, had fallen to his super-GM opponent.

That left IM Mehmed Pasalic on Board 3, and NM Jon Burgess, Board 4, with the burden of determining the outcome of the match. Both games looked iffy, and a somber mood momentarily descended on the venue until both players rallied, Mehmed to victory over FM Peter Bereolos and Jon to hold FM John Bick to a draw.

Mehmed Pasalic during his match against Peter Pereolos.

Above: IM Mehmed Pasalic (foreground) and NM Jon Burgess during their games against the Tennessee Tempo. Photo: Daniel Parmet

Here are the games:

1. GM Jaan Ehlvest (TEN) vs FM Florin Felecan (CHC) 1-0

2. IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs FM Todd Andrews (TEN) 1-0

3. FM Peter Bereolos (TEN) vs IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) 0-1

4. NM Jon Burgess (CHC) vs FM John Bick (TEN) 1/2-1/2

Tennessee was one of the weaker teams in the league last year, but with Ehlvest and former U.S. Champion GM Alexander Shabalov now playing for the Nashville cats, they started this season strong and, as the USCL site put it, look like “a different team” this year. Last night’s match was their first defeat of the season. It came harder, and is in some ways more satisfying, than the two Blaze victories over the Tempo last year.

Special thanks to Larry Cohen, who served as our Celebrity Tournament Director for the evening’s match. Kudos also to Blaze Assistant Manager Daniel Parmet, who ran the match superbly in the absence of Manager Glenn Panner.

It’s a short week, and there won’t be much time to celebrate. We come back and play the mighty San Francisco Mechanics on Monday. Tune in to the Internet Chess Club, or watch the live coverage by Chicago’s Midway Chess Club.

Miami Puts the Shark Bite on the Blaze

But IM Young comes through again

Angelo Young always shows up.

As any Blaze fan will tell you, the popular international master and seven-time Illinois champion plays hard and always gives the team 100 percent. True to his reputation and record, Angelo came through again last night, posting an impressive victory with the Reti/King’s Indian Attack against NM Eric Rodriguez of the Miami Sharks to give the Blaze a lift and maintain his undefeated record in USCL play.

That, however, was the good news, and unfortunately, there wasn't anymore of it, as Angelo’s teammates, GM Nikola Mitkov, IM Jan van DeMortel, and expert Trevor Magness each fell to their Miami opponents. The Sharks won the match 3-1, handing the Blaze their second consecutive defeat of the new season and leaving us with an 0-2 record heading into the third week of the ten-week season.

Here are the games.

Board 1. GM Nikola Mitkov (CHC) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 0-1

Board 2. FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 1-0

Board 3. IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs NM Eric Rodriguez (MIA) 1-0

Board 4. Miguel Recio (MIA) vs Trevor Magness (CHC) 1-0

Special thanks to Mike Cardinale of the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago, who served as our celebrity tournament director for the evening. Mike will be back with us again later in the season. Next up, the Tennessee Tempo: Week 3: Wednesday, September 16th Tennessee Tempo vs Chicago Blaze 7:00 PM Central Time

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