Whew! With the clock ticking toward midnight, that was the only response I, and probably the entire contingent of Knights' fans could muster. Seemingly in control of the match, with favorable positions on all boards, despite Boston's draw odds, we demonstrated once again that you cannot take anything for granted in the USCL.
On board 4, Yaacov looked headed for a slightly inferior endgame against Boston stalwart NM Ilya Krasik. Perhaps sensing the need for a victory, Norowitz decided on an interesting pawn sacrifice that soon paid dividends, as Ilya's king was caught in the middle. Norowitz soon had at least a draw in hand, when Ilya offered two pawns in a desperate bid to free himself. Krasik's resourcefulness paid off, as he soon developed massive counterplay against the black king. In Krasik's time pressure, Norowitz missed a cute perpetual idea and the game was drawn.
On board 3, I faced the dangerous veteran NM Vadim Martirosov, fresh off a win over NM Evan Rosenberg, in a Rossolimo Sicilian. After a slight opening inaccuracy from Vadim, my position was slightly better owing to a strong e4/d4 pawn center. When Vadim lashed out with b7-b5, hoping for queenside counterplay, I opted for the committal e4-e5, trading fluidity for the opportunity to bottle up black's kingside. At this point, I started playing second-best moves, allowing black to simplify, rather than grabbing what should have been a clean extra pawn. I held a slight edge, and then thought I could transpose into a slightly better rook and bishop endgame. In my haste, I essayed the terrible 29. Rc6?? which should lose on the spot to 29. ..Bg3!! (which would have earned Martirosov move of the week, if not game). Instead we entered what should have been a drawn endgame, where I proceeded to commit hara kiri. Martirosov didn't have to be asked twice and reeled in the full point, giving Boston a 1.5-0.5 lead.
On board 1, Giorgi started with 1. d4 but soon ended in a g3 Pirc against living legend GM Larry Christiansen. Giorgi was able to maintain a slight edge throughout and avoided some last-ditch swindle tactics, finally forcing resignation in a two pawn up rook endgame. With Giorgi's win, the match was knotted at 1.5, putting Pascal in a must-win situation on board 2.
Shortly into the match, board 2 looked to be the worst for the Knights, as GM Eugene Perelshteyn built an impressive position and time edge against Pascal in a Catalan. Pascal's prospects went from bad to worse after Eugene struck with 18. Nf7!. Dogged defense, however, paid off and by 29. ..Qd6, Pascal was no worse. After 35. .Rf8!, Pascal was likely winning in a remarkable turnaround. Time pressure began to take its toll as Charbonneau missed the instantly winning 39. ..Bf7 40. Bf5 Kg7!. Instead, after 39. ..b2?, a study-like endgame arose. With both players under two minutes, Pascal managed to round up white's a-pawn and cut off the white king, clinching the match for New York!