Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Iron Man

In a loss to Arizona, we learn that Angelo Young is even more amazing than we thought.

Okay, sure, we lost. To Arizona. For the fourth time in a row. And we’ve never beaten or even drawn them, it’s true. And yes, the loss puts our fading playoff hopes on life support.

All duly noted.

If you’re predisposed to negativity, those might be your impressions from Monday night’s Blaze match against the Scorpions.

But the real news of the night was this:

IM Angelo Young, who we knew was amazing, is even more amazing than we imagined.

He wasn’t even scheduled to play last night, but when a teammate took sick Monday morning he rearranged his schedule and obligingly stepped in to play Board 1, with a huge time penalty (because of the last-minute substitution) against freshly qualified GM-elect Rogelio Barcenilla, whose rating exceeds Angelo's by 258 points.

It didn’t seem to bother Angelo, either, that he was putting his undefeated USCL record on the line under extremely difficult circumstances. And I think I know why: because somehow he must have known that he was going to win.

With no time for dinner, much less to prepare for the game, Angelo played fast, played great, double fianchettoed, won material, and won the game, all while wolfing down appetizers from Tandoor India to keep his blood sugar from crashing.

It was a great game and a superb achievement. It not only extends Angelo’s undefeated streak from the time the Blaze joined the league last year, but it gives him a shot at his second Upset of the Week prize of the season. He has now played every board for the Blaze at least once, and he’s never lost. Congratulations, Angelo, and thanks so much for pinch hitting on such short notice.

True, the rest of the night didn’t go so well for the Blaze. Here are the games:

1. IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 1-0
2. IM Dionisio Aldama (ARZ) vs IM Florin Felecan (CHC) 1-0
3. IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) vs IM Danny Rensch (ARZ) 1/2-1/2
4. David Adelberg (ARZ) vs NM Eric Rosen (CHC) 1-0

As always, we must give special thanks to our Celebrity Tournament Director for the night, a role played ably and diligently for the second time this season by Mike Cardinale of the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago.

Next week is Week 9, and we play the reigning champion Dallas Destiny on Monday night. We will have to win (not draw) to have any remaining playoff chances at all. Watch this space for more.

P.S. Though it has been expected for some time, a note of congratulations is in order for our very own Florin Felecan (the 2009 Illinois state co-champion, by the way), who has had his international master title formally approved by the the World Chess Federation. Henceforth, he is IM Felecan. Congratulations, Florin.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Upcoming Events at TMCC

If you haven’t been to the Touch Move Chess Center lately, it’s time to check in. IM Angelo Young has revamped the Web site, giving it a new design and new features, and he’s planning a series of tournaments and lectures. For example:

¶ A G/30 tournament today beginning at 11:00 AM

¶ Friday-night Blitz, every Friday from 7:30 – 10:00 PM.

Angelo is also beginning a series of weekend lectures both for scholastic players and adults. Stay tuned for more information here or watch the TMCC Web site.

The club is located at 5639 North Ashland in Chicago. Call (773) 293-6667 or email them at

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chess Tournament in Hyde Park!

Rated Event at U of C Next Saturday

No, it’s not a typo. There really will be a genuine USCF-rated chess tournament right here in Hyde Park next Saturday, thanks to the University of Chicago Chess Club. Details:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Reynolds Club -- 5706 S. University Ave, Chicago, IL

USCF rated only (not FIDE rated).

4-SS G/60+10 Sec increment. $1225 b/60
(An increase of $525 over the last prize fund we offered at this site!).

EF: $30 preentry, $40 at the site. $10 discount to U of C students. IDs will be checked at site and discount given at site. All pre-entries will be put in a drawing for a Chessbase software package of your choice.

Prize Fund: (All class prizes based on 4 per section) 1st $400, 2nd $250, 3rd
$150,Expert/A $125,B $100, C $100, D + below and Unrated $75, Biggest Upset $25.
Registration: 9:00am-9:45am Round Times: 10am-12:30pm-3:00pm-5:30pm.

Info/Preentries: Chris Baumgartner, 9985 Linda Ln Apt 2E, Des Plaines, IL 60016
(please make checks payable to Chris Baumgartner) Phone: 847-609-2987 Email:
Here's the official listing on the Illinois Chess Association calendar.

Here's a flyer you can tack up on the fridge. And a hat tip to NM Jeremy Kane, team’s captain and also the new Ray School chess coach, for sending me the information.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blaze Game of the Week

NM Eric Rosen annotates his victory over NM Andrew Ng

Eric’s outstanding chess summer is turning into a great fall, beginning with his thrilling victory with the Closed Sicilian in his first USCL game last Wednesday night.

Go here to see the game with Eric’s annotations.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Pummeled by the Pugilists

Knockouts squeak past Blaze 2.5-1.5

Photos: Andi Rosen

In another close contest against a league leader that looked like it could end in a draw, the Blaze ultimately came up short Wednesday night, losing 2.5-1.5 to the New Jersey Knockouts, the only USCL team with a perfect record, which now improves to 5-0.

The Blaze, by contrast, fall to 1-4 at midseason and are in serious need of victories in the coming weeks if we are to keep our playoff hopes alive.

There are always bright spots, even in defeats, and this week’s was the victory by newly minted NM Eric Rosen over Jersey’s NM Andrew Ng in Eric’s first game as a Blazer. The game marks another milestone in the annus mirabilis that has been 2009 for the Niles North High School sophomore, who this year has earned the national master title, won the U.S. Junior Open, beaten one grandmaster, and drawn another. In the latest USCF rankings, Eric is number five nationally in his age group, his highest ever.

Though it certainly would have been a better match if we’d won or drawn, it was a good one nevertheless. The toughest assignment of the night went to Chicago's IM Jan van de Mortel, who had to face the former U.S. Champion GM Joel Benjamin with the Black pieces. Jan played a strong game that looked drawish in the middle game to some onlookers, but Benjamin was able to take control and win. FM Mehmed Pasalic fell behind in time to his higher-rated opponent, IM Albert Kapengut, and Jersey was able to put that one in the W column as well. In the final game of the night to end, IM Angelo Young struggled mightily for a victory that would have drawn the match, but before his kingside attack could get underway, his opponent, SM Mackenzie Molner, found strong counterplay and hung Angelo up on the queenside. The game ended in a draw. Remarkably, however, Angelo remains undefeated in USCL competition.

Panner: "I'm not Joel Benjamin"

Here are the games by board:

1. GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 1-0
IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs SM Mackenzie Molner (NJ) 1/2-1/2
IM Albert Kapengut (NJ) vs IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) 1-0
NM Eric Rosen (CHC) vs NM Andrew Ng (NJ) 1-0

Special thanks to Maret Thorpe, who served as our Celebrity Tournament Director for the night. It’s a short week. Monday night we play another Eastern Division team, the Philadelphia Inventors, arguably the chessical descendents of Ben Franklin. See you then.

In other developments, Blaze Manager Glenn Panner confirmed that, contrary to popular belief, he and Joel Benjamin are not one and the same person.

Here's a report on the match from the Knockouts blog and from the ever-excellent Michael Goeller.

Panner photo: Betsy Dynako