Thursday, January 19, 2017

Week 2: Cobras Cruise to Victory

Week two of the PRO Chess League regular season pitted the Carolina Cobras against another young, locally-based team: the Columbus Cardinals. Fresh off a closer-than-expected defeat at the hands of the GM-laden Philadelphia Inventors, the Cobras looked to take advantage of a rare match-up without any titled FIDE players. A 12.5-3.5 blowout did not disappoint, as the Cobras once again vastly outperformed the chess.com panelist "expert" predictions.

"Carollina 6.5-9.5 Columbus - with young 'Christopher Columbus' leading the way."
-NM Alex King

"Very tight matchup. This comes down to boards 3 and 4, where I give Columbus the tiniest of edges."
-NM Pete Karagianis

This weeks lineup featured FM Robin Cunningham, NM Peter Giannatos, NM Emmanuel Carter, and myself. Robin and Peter each posted solid scores of 2/4 and 2.5/4 respectively, each giving up only one loss. On boards three and four, Emmanuel and I combined to go 8-0 against Columbus' four representatives, leading to the lopsided final margin.

Kicking off this week's game analysis is a tactical finish from my third round win over NM Christopher Shen. White appears to have a strong position structurally, but black's pieces have unexpected attacking potential.

             
NM Emmanuel Carter played several lively games in his Cobras debut. He consistently pressured his opponent on the clock, which proved extremely beneficial in the rapid time control. In the following game against WCM and NM Maggie Feng, Emmanuel found the thematic 23...h5! developing a strong initiative which ultimately led to victory.

             
FM Robin Cunningham made his first appearance for the Cobras against Columbus. He held slight advantages at various points in his first three games, but was unable to convert any into wins. Undoubtedly, the shorter time control makes a positional grind more difficult to execute. In his fourth round game, Robin launched a menacing kingside attack, which proved decisive after some inaccurate defense by his opponent.

               
For the second week in a row, NM Peter Giannatos delivered solid results for the Cobras, winning two games and saving a highly unlikely draw. In his game against Christopher Shen, Peter built up a nice position by combining queenside expansion with prophylactic defense on the kingside. After some awful blunders by his opponent, Peter efficiently brought home the full point.

My games this week definitely had their ups and downs, with a crazy second round time scramble against Vincent Baker signifying the undoubted low-point. I have always thought of myself as a more positional player, but this week afforded two rare opportunities to conduct middlegame mating attacks. In addition to the Shen game above, my first round also culminated in a forcing sequence.

I hope you enjoyed this week's recap as much as we all enjoyed winning by such a big margin! Next week's matchup is on Wednesday, January 25 against the New Jersey Knockouts. As always, you can catch the games live on chess.com, starting at 6:40pm.

Until next time,
LM Aaron Balleisen



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