We defeated the New England Nor'Easters for the 2nd time this season, again by the thinnest of
On board 1, GM Gata Kamsky kicked things off with his first win of the season, smoothly outplaying
GM Alexander Ivanov. Ivanov couldn't cope with Gata's queenside pressure and his own mounting
time trouble and was losing once his e5 pawn fell on move 24.
His best hope appeared to be 21. ..Ra2, banking on activity (and the drawish nature of the ending after 22. Rd6 cd 23. Nb7 Rb2) to hold the balance. Passive defense with 21. ..Bc8 allowed Gata to take control of all the key squares/lines and the rest was a lesson in GM technique.
The story on the other boards was quite different, with the Knights at risk of scoring only 0.5/3 and
losing the match outright.
Board 4 was a critical victory, as NM Qibiao Wang continued his perfect season, defeating NM Carey Theil in a French MacCutcheon. Theil misplayed the opening, allowing Qibiao to quickly win a pawn and transition to a winning Q vs R+B endgame thanks to the clever retreat 29. ..Nc6-b8, trapping the white Ra8. All proceeded smoothly until move 42
when Qibiao's 42. ..f4 (perhaps missing that white captures f4 with check a move later) let Theil back into the game with serious fortress possibilities. Theil held on while Qibiao pushed his passed b-pawn but, in time pressure, blundered with 53. Bd4, allowing Black's K to cross the fourth rank (53. Kg3 was good enough to hold). The game was over a move later when 54. Rg4 Qg4! eliminated white's pieces and black queened.
NM Gary Huang had a crazy battle with FM Christopher Chase on board 3. White seemed to be dominating from the opening, with black's Nh6 far away from the action in the center. Chase took his chances and, miraculously, by move 19, both of black's knights were on fantastic outposts and menacing white's position. Gary did well to untangle his pieces (including the key retreat 26. Neg1!) but black's queenside pressure looked menacing. In taking the e5 pawn, Chase allowed Gary to invade on the 8th rank (preventable by 34. ..Qf6, which would have taken white to task for not drawing with 34. Rd8!), highlighting black's lack of king safety. By move 40
white had a host of winning possibilities, the clearest being 40. Qe8!, but blundered away the first half point with 40. Ng5?. Chase ran with his king: 40. ..Kg6, but immediately blundered 41. Qe8 Kf5?. There were many picturesque geometrical themes and the first was 42. Qh5! continuing the attack and covering the back rank via the d1 square. Gary's 42. Rd1 was safe and good enough to win, but after Chase's 42. ..Nd5??!, he had to see 43. Rxd5!, winning instantly. Instead, the entire point went to Chase: 43. Rf1?? and white was out of checks after 43. ..Kg4!. White could have resisted with 44. Qb8!, leading to the forcing line 44. ..Nc3 45. Kc1 Na2 46. Kb1 Nc3 47. Kc1 Qe5! 48. Qb4! Re4! 49. Qb3 Ra4! 50. Rf4 Rf4 51. gf Ne2 52. Kb1 Nf4 and black should win the resulting endgame. Instead, 44. Qf8? Re1! won the queen and the game for black.
FM Michael Bodek has been an invaluable contributor to the Knights' success over his career and held a tense, match-winning draw against FM Mika Brattain on board 2. The critical moment arose on move 44
when Michael blundered with 44. ..f7-f6, allowing white the tremendous shot 45. Bxb4!! Qxb4 46. Qf7 Kh8 47. exf6. Black is practically out of moves and will be mated shortly. Brattain, perhaps believing he could win by other means and not wanting to risk the sacrifice with a short clock, blundered back with 45. Bf4, which kept a small advantage for white. Michael displayed his impressive defensive technique and calculation skills in the resulting Q+P endgame: 45. ..fe 46. Be5 Bg7 47. Qe2 Be5 48. Qe5 Kg8 49. Kg2 Kh7 50. g4 Qf7 51. Kg3 Kg6 52. Qd6 fg 53. hg h5 54. gh Kh5 55. Qb4 Qg6! 56. Kg2 Qd3! 57. Kg2 Qe4! 58. Kf1 Qd3 59. f3 Qe2! 60. Kg3 Qe3!
ensuring the draw by perpetual that was agreed four moves later.
We face Dallas on October 7th.
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