Arizona wins West Semifinals!
This was an amazing match to witness due to the sheer pessimism of the situation that reversed at the 11th hour to yield an improbable Scorpions victory.
Board 1 Molner-ARZ – Diamant-STL [B36]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 11.Rc1 a4 12.Rc2 Qa5 13.f3 Bd7 14.0-0 Rfc8 15.Rfc1 Be6 16.Bf1 Nd7 17.Qf2 Qb4 18.Nb5 Qa5 19.Rb1 Qd8 20.Nd4 Nc5 21.b4 axb3 22.axb3 Bd7 23.b4 Ne6 24.Nxe6 Bxe6 25.c5 dxc5 26.bxc5 Qc7 27.Bc4 Bxc4 28.Rxc4 Ra1 29.Rxa1 Bxa1 30.Rc1 Bg7 1/2-1/2
IM Molner was quite under the weather in this game. Did anyone see “Tombstone” where Val Kilmer fell off his horse? It was like that. So, a draw was a good result. This was the first to finish. Running total: Arizona 1/2 – St Louis 1/2.
We needed 2.5 out of 4 to win the match.
The next game to finish was Board 4. And that did not go well.
Board 4. Hendrickson-STL – Chakraborty-ARZ [B07]
Black avoided the Grand Prix Attack although it is easily met.
All of the unpleasantness stems from the fact black has lost castling privileges.
Bc5 20.Red3 Bd4 21.Ne2 Nxd5 22.exd5 Bxf2 23.Nxe5 Bh4 24.d6 Rxd6 25.Rxd6 cxd6 26.Rxd6 Bf2 27.Nc3 Ke7 28.Rd2 Bc5 29.b4 Be3 30.Nd5+ Ke6 31.Nxe3 Kxe5 32.Nc4+ Ke4 33.Nxb6 Be6 34.c4 Rb8 35.c5 Rb7 36.Kb2 Ke3 37.Kc3 g5 38.b5 h5 39.Rd6 h4 40.c6 Rc7 41.Rxe6+ fxe6 42.Nc4+ Kf2 43.b6 1-0
Well this is a bad start for us, now we are down 1/2 to 1 1/2.
Things were looking very grim. On Board 2, there was much adventure.
A miracle occurred on Board 2: Kannappan overplayed his hand and Altounian won an ending!
Board 2. Kannappan-Altounian
Altounian plays an aggressive move (!!).
Levon offered a draw during this knight tour. At this point, our board 4 had the bishop pair advantage but had a floating king problem – it was not clear yet. This is why white declined the draw. In this game, white is in no danger whatsoever but black retains counter-chances (although he is limited to passively reacting to whatever white might try).
White is still not risking anything considering black’s wide open king.
White carelessly allows a queen trade. He had to NOT allow a queen trade to hold this.
Ra5! And black wins.
49.Qxg4+ Qxg4 50.Nxg4 Ra1+ 51.Kg2 b5 52.Kf3 b4 53.Ne5 Re1 54.Nd3 b3 55.g4 Kh6 56.Kf4 Re2 57.g5+ Kg7 58.Kf3 Rc2 59.h5 b2 60.Nxb2 Rxb2 61.Kg3 Kf7 62.f3 Ke6 63.Kg4 Rg2+ 64.Kf4 Rh2 65.Kg4 Rg2+ 66.Kf4 Rg1 67.h6 Rg2 68.h7 Rh2 69.Kg4 Rxh7 70.f4 Rh1 71.f5+ Ke5 72.f6 Ke6 73.Kf4 Rf1+ 74.Ke4 Rf5 75.f7 Rxf7 76.g6 Rg7 0-1
On Board 3, IM Mohandesi was involved in a crazy game with IM Bregadze.
Board 3 Mohandesi-ARZ – Bregadze-STL [A11]
White does not pretend to be accurate, but he is very fast!
b6 13.a3 Bb7 14.b4 Nd7 15.Rab1 Rc8 16.Qb3 Nc7 17.Rfc1 Ne6 18.Qd1 Rc7 19.Qf1 Qa8 20.Be3 Rfc8 21.b5 Nd4 22.Bxd4 cxd4 23.a4 Bd5 24.a5 Rc5 25.a6 Qb8 26.Nfd2 Bh6 27.Bxd5 Rxd5 28.Rc2 Bxd2 29.Rxd2 Rcc5 30.Rdb2 Ne5 31.Nd2 Qe8 32.Qg2 Kg7 33.Qe4 Qd7 34.Kg2 Rxb5 35.Rxb5 Rxb5 36.Rxb5 Qxb5 37.Qxd4 f6 38.Qd8 Qd7 39.Qb8 Nc6 40.Qa8 b5 41.f3 b4 42.Kf1 Nd4 43.Qb7 Qh3+ 44.Ke1 Qe6 45.e4 Nc6 46.Nc4 b3 47.Kd2 Qh3 48.Kc3!
Again, the ONLY MOVE TO WIN. And black has less time. It’s looking good for us! White wraps up the point.
Of course 58. Qf7+!! is the fan favorite way to end the game. But it didn’t matter anymore. All roads lead to Rome.