This is it: the Big Enchilada
- Created on Sunday, 20 November 2011 16:51
- Written by Tom Panelas
Okay, chess fans, this is it, the thing we’ve been working and rooting for all season long: the Chicago Blaze have made it to the final round of the U.S. Chess League playoffs.
The Blaze earned that right after beating the Los Angeles Vibe 2.5-1.5 in the league semifinals Monday night, making them the Western Division representative in the season’s final match.
The Blaze took Monday night’s match on the strength of a draw by GM Yury Shulman and victories by GMs Dmitry Gurevich and Josh Friedel, who won the league Game of the Week prize, the third week in a row it has been won by a Blazer. (Yury won it the previous two.)
Oh, yes, and it was also the first decisive playoff match victory in Blaze history.
Special thanks to Patrice Connelly of the Chicago Industrial Chess League for serving as our Celebrity Fire on the night, and to Skokie Village Fire Chief Ralph E. Czerwinski for joining us as our special guest and making the ceremonial first pawn push of the match.
The win also gives the team some much-needed momentum going into the championship contest after three-week rough patch in which they lost their only match of the season and then posted two draws after an 8-0 start.
Of course, none of that matters now: it all comes down to one match and four games against the seasoned Knights, who have lots of playoff and championship experience. See the lineups here.
The Blaze are extremely grateful to the many fans who have supported them and cheered them on to their best season ever. Now let’s win one more and become the USCL champs. Go Blaze!
For a complete coverage of this week's Blaze match, as well as Trevor Magness' weekly puzzle for scholastic players based on this week's Blaze games, visit the Chicago Blaze Blog.