Remember Bill Murray in "What About Bob?" ? Baby steps! The Sluggers pulled out an important victory tonight versus the Arizona Scorpions. The win propelled the Seattle squad into 4th place in the West division with Chicago losing to Queens.
On first board Nakamura displayed the technique of a strong GM. Once again he opened with 1.g3 as White, possibly an homage to NW legend GM Duncan Suttles or just a way to avoid a lot of prep time, and got a fair position with the 2 B's. Altounian seemed to have gotten some activity when he doubled on the d-file with 27...Red6 but just 3 moves later the Black king's residence was a teetering mess. Some nice tactics finished the day.
Board 2 was a real clash as Dr. Ginsburg for Arizona has been a theory buff for nearly 30 years (just look at his website), while Mikhailuk will get 10 moves out and start to think. In this case Slava was simply aiming to win by one means... captures. Ginsburg got an advantage in development for a pawn, then went for some tactics by letting the e4 pawn be exchanged for f7. I think, my opinion here, is that Ginsburg didn't play 18. Rfe1 because he felt he had to win the game for his team, so either didn't like the endgame prospects or was more optimistic about middlegame chances. It turned out that Black had a little glue, got stuff together and ended up winning with a little counter attack.
Katerina Rohonyan's debut on board 3 for the Sluggers was a fine effort. Basically the opening was a bit of shadow boxing, then an exchange of N's on d5 set the stage for Black to make some noise on the K-side while White vaposized the c7 and b7 pawns. The end was fairly quick as White couldn't defend the h-file, but could chase the Black king with checks. A draw worked for the Sluggers in this case.
On Board 4 Warren Harper won a nice game for the Scorpions. Michael Lee seemed to shuffle his pieces with no real aim. Michael is young and seems to get bogged down in positions where a static position in the center has been established. Games like this have a spooky quality as you can almost hear the Black player thinking "ok, this is a good square for this piece, I will put it there" and then when it is his move again "that was a good square, but that piece is now needed on the other side of the board". It's like a lack of direction. Hopefully Michael will work on this sort of position as it is likely to crop up in the league for him again.
Ok, so the Sluggers have gotten back into the playoff race. I would like to say a couple of words here about that. 2 weeks ago I posted on Arun Sharma's blog that I thought the Sluggers were ranked too high. The counter to my thinking was that the Sluggers remaining schedule was the easiest in the league. My response was that basing a teams "strength" on its schedule was utter nonsense if not disrespectful to the teams on that schedule. No response to that. This past week I posted again on the power rankings, pointing out that Arun was now talking about the Sluggers having a hard time getting into the playoffs. That went unanswered, probably because I made a comment about the Mechanics. The comments that I have heard from the "fans" out there is that I am a lose cannon and that I was saying a couple of weeks ago that the Sluggers wouldn't make the playoffs. Sluggers followers, this is my part in this.
First of all I am a lose cannon. Too much of the league is goody goody, use the right words, don't say things that might not be popular crap. That is just not me. At no point did I say "the Sluggers won't make the playoffs" and more importantly I never thought that. Second, about that "say the right things" stuff... well it is all fine and good for everybody else to tip toe around, but a titled player comes out and makes an accusation against the Sluggers ... well folks that is all fine and good. The league don't care, you know those guys back east "really don't much like us hill folk" if you know what I mean. So, am I just gonna walk by and watch the guy point fingers. Two words, first one rhymes with "swell" and the second one is 'no'. I didn't stand for it. (Note to people who are reading this from other teams or who might be league commissioner, close you eyes now kiddies cause this might get messy). Then everybody's feelings got hurt and I am such a "lose cannon" and I don't consider all the people out there. Here is what I think: This league is supposed to be entertaining and if you are reading this you are entertained. You folks who are entertained are the people I answer to. If you think that I am so out of line with my approach, you let me know... no Mr. anonymous you don't get to vote. Here's the deal. I will put a message on the NW Chess message board tomorrow morning (assuming I get enough sleep to remember) and it will ask people to respond. Whether you like my stuff or think I should just go away you better respond. This way, Mr. Anono"myass" doesn't his nose dented. I don't see this as a problem for the league or for the Sluggers, so please come on and let us all know.
Ok, I am out of breath. ttyl