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9/22/09 - Burnett-Lugo, 2009 US Chess League

Last night, the Tempo faced off with the Miami Sharks in week 4 of the USCL (sponsored by Poker Stars). Unlike past years, this was one of several Monday night matches. I think I liked it better when there was just one showcase Monday match each week, but I understand the strain it puts on league officials to then have to deal with 6 matches on Wednesday. While the Tempo were off to our best start ever with 1.5/3, we thought this was a critical match as this was the first time we faced one of last seasons playoff teams, the defending Western Division champion Miami Sharks.

The eventual 2-2 draw was a typical back and forth USCL battle. John Bick got us on the scoreboard first with a big win on Board 3 with Black over IM Alejandro Moreno Moran. From the Tennessee perspective, our best chance to win the match was on Board 2 in the battle of IMs, Burnett vs. Lugo. Ron had seemed to have a small pull the entire game, but seemed to have missed 27... Nc5-e4 when two pieces are attacked.

He spent almost all of his time up before going for a desperate queen sacrifice with 28. Rxe4? Also bad is 28. Nc4? Nxc3 29. Qxc3 b5; However, the paradoxical 28. Bb4! keeps the balance. The same two pieces are now attacked, and now neither of them has a defender, but the Bd6 is the key to Black's defensive position. The main point is 28... Bxb4? 29. Ng6+ hxg6 30. Qh3+ Kg8 31. d6+ and it is White who ends up with the extra queen. Taking the knight is also bad for Black 28... Bxe5 29. Bxf8 Bxh2+ 30. Kh1 and Black has insufficient compensation, so he likely has to be content with the roughly equal ending after something like 28... Qb6 29. Bxd6 Qxd6 30. Nd3 (30. Nf7+!? Rxf7 31. Rxe4)) 28... fxe4 29. Qxf8+ Bxf8 30. d6 Bxd6 31. Nf7+ Kg8 32. Nxd6+ Kf8 33. Nxe4 and the presence of the b-pawn prevents White from any chance of a freak fortress.

Of course Miami can point to Boards 1 and 4 for their missed opportunities where they were up one and two pawns respectively. However, Tempo fans rejoiced when GM Ehlvest and David Justice navigated opposite colored bishop endings to draws. The Tempo will be back in action on the 30th versus the Seattle Sluggers

9/21/09 - Guess Who's Back?

After all the complaints at tournaments and via email, I've decided to end my blogging sabbatical! I think I was entitled to a year off after about 9 years of consistent posting. It will probably take me awhile to get back in the swing of things, so it may be more fragments than full games for awhile.

I'm not quite sure how I'll cover the blank period. For the next couple of months the focus will be on the US Chess League. Todd gave me the managerial duties this year, but not before assembling a powerhouse lineup with the return of former world #5 Jaan Ehlvest and 4-time US Champion Alex Shabalov. After missing the playoffs by half a point last year, we are daring to openly speak the p-word this year!