Another example of how close the Sluggers can play. As a theme, a small advantage was the focus last night. Michael Lee acquired an advantage in the form of active rooks and displayed excellent skill in turning it into two pawns, then victory. Slava aimed for an endgame where his outside passed pawn would be an advantage, but it ended up being only enough to draw. The first board game appeared to be headed into a middlegame contest with an IQP when it took a sharp turn into an ending. That became a bishop’s of opposite color where the players looked to spend more time convincing themselves they could win. So, only Readey’s game was left. It looked like John was working to keep a solid position and didn’t achieve much form the opening. Slowly Bartholomew outplayed him to get to a better ending and a win. A tie match was a common expectation and that’s what we got.
I said on the message board that the Sluggers needed a win to keep realistic playoff hopes alive. That was a bit of an exaggeration, but it doesn’t look great for them. The next 2 Mondays the Sluggers face New York, a team they have had zero luck against, and then the West leading Mechanics. There might be a little pull for the Sluggers against the Mechanics based on the rivalry, but they will need more than some emotional push. The rest of the schedule sees Arizona twice wrapped around a match with Tennessee. As much as I would like to say that the schedule favors them, it just doesn’t. We aren’t entirely sure how good Arizona is and the first match with the Tempo ended in a tie. The Sluggers are not out of the playoffs today, but they have a pretty rough road to get there. There is a bright spot that they hold their fate in their own hands.