Thursday, October 30, 2008
How the West was Won
That's right, the Miami Sharks are Western Conference Champions! This gives us the significant advantage of draw odds through to the championship game. To borrow a hackneyed sportswriter's term, there are also some "intangible" benefits: Momentum, confidence, etc.
The title of this post is a tad misleading, since I'm barely going to talk about the games right now. In a couple days I'll have a thorough look at my game; for now suffice to say that I was very lucky. Despite getting a perfectly solid position out of the opening, I was outplayed by my opponent once we were both on our own. By the time I played ...g6 (basically permanently exposing my king; I'm not sure if I had something better) it dawned on me that things had gone rather pearshaped. Once I fortuitiously escaped into a late-middlegame where white had a passed isolated d-pawn (Jonathan Rowson refers to this pawn as "delroy" in his interesting book on the Grunfeld) I was able to get good play by keeping my queen active and basically harassing my opponent in mutual time pressure. After my opponent dropped a piece, I offered a draw that was immediately accepted to clinch the match and Western Conference for the Sharks.
Of course, the real reason we won this match was the only decisive game, FM Perea's very smooth win over San Francisco's IM Zilberstein. Perea plays positional openings and has a very harmonious style. SM Esserman once observed that this sense of harmony seems characteristic of strong Cuban players, and it's difficult to disagree with him. Although he plays completely different openings, GM Becerra is another player who seems to frequently win games very easily.
With draw odds and a couple strong lineups available, bring on Seattle!