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NM Ke Upsets 2 GMs, as San Jose Hackers Cruise to 2018 Debut Win (With Game Analysis)

Posted: 12 months ago

By IM Vignesh Panchanatham

The San Jose Hackers came into the first match of the 2018 Pro Chess League rocking a lineup that was just barely under the 2500 rating maximum. The top-heavy lineup featured GM Rauf Mamedov on Board 1, GM Zviad Izoria on Board 2, GM Cristian Chirila on Board 3, and 15-year-old NM Ivan Ke on Board 4. The BayAreaChess-sponsored Hackers were matched against the Rio Grande Ospreys, who had a slightly more balanced lineup, but a lower average rating of 2484.

The Pro Chess League was started two years ago in order to popularize chess, taking over from its predecessor, the United States Chess League. In each match, every member of each team plays all of the players on the other team. The shorter time control, 15 minutes with a 2 second increment, allows for more entertaining and faster games. Players play on Chess.com and are monitored via webcam through the program Zoom. In each match, 16 games are played, and 8.5 points are required to win.

Read on for a detailed overview of the match along with my analysis of 4 of the best games! 

Round 1: 3-1 Hackers

Ke vs. Dragun (1-0)

Chirila vs. Belous (1-0)

Vazquez vs. Izoria (0-1)

Kambrath vs. Mamedov (1F-0F)

In the first round, the Hackers suffered a forfeit in GM Mamedov’s game, setting them back early on the top board. However, GMs Izoria and Chirila took care of business, and then a surprise came. Ivan Ke, who was outrated by every player on either team, came up with a huge upset victory over GM Kamil Dragun! Even with their board one forfeit, the San Jose Hackers came out with a strong lead. 

Annotated below is GM Chirila’s strong and eventually victorious attack against GM Belous. 

Dragun v. Chirila (1/2-1/2)

Belous v. Ke (0-1)

Naroditsky v. Vazquez (1-0)

Izoria v. Kambrath (1-0)

In order to replace GM Mamedov, San Jose brought in GM Daniel Naroditsky on short-term notice to fill in. With Pro Chess League Rules, a roster substitution penalty was also imposed, docking a point from the Hackers final score, and making the match total out of 15 games. Since this was the first match, the penalty was actually slightly more lenient than usual. Now, in order to win, the Ospreys only needed 8 points.

However, the Hackers didn’t let the setback faze them. GM Naroditsky immediately struck with a victory over IM Vasquez. GM Chirila held a solid draw against GM Dragun, and GM Izoria defeated FM Yannick Kambrath. Once again, Ivan Ke came through with another huge victory!

Despite a worse position to start with, Ke equalized immediately when given the opportunity, and took advantage of GM Belous’ overpressing to take home the full point.

Round 3: 2.5-1.5 Hackers

Izoria v. Dragun (1-0)

Naroditsky v. Belous (0-1)

Vazquez v. Ke (1/2-1/2)

Kambrath v. Chirila (0-1)

Already at a strong 6.5-1.5 lead, the Hackers only needed 2 points over the next two rounds to clinch the match. GMs Izoria and Chirila both won their games, and once again Ivan Ke pulled through with a draw. GM Belous scored the full point against GM Naroditsky.

GM Izoria turned a quick opening advantage into a massive attack against GM Dragun’s king.

Round 4: 1-3 Ospreys

Dragun v. Naroditsky (1-0)

Belous v. Izoria (1-0)

Chirila v. Vazquez (1-0)

Ke v. Kambrath (0-1)

Having already clinched the match with a decisive 9-3 lead, the Hackers were only playing for game points. GM Naroditsky and GM Izoria both lost to their GM opponents, and Ke’s amazing day finally ended with a loss to FM Kambrath. GM Chirila was the sole victory in the final round.

GM Chirila turned an even opening into a winning endgame through the use of some creative tactics.

Round 2: 3.5-.5 Hackers

Man of the Match: Ivan Ke

Ivan Ke finished with 2.5/4, despite playing higher-rated opponents every round. He took home 2 GM scalps, and was the integral part of this Hackers win!

Final Score: 9-6 (one point deducted as replacement penalty)

After this key first round triumph, the San Jose Hackers are second in the Pacific Division, trailing the Chengdu Pandas by 1.5 game points. Next week, the Hackers will face the Australia Kangaroos at 7:05 PM Pacific Time on Thursday, Jan. 25. Follow the games live by tuning into http://www.Twitch.Tv/HelloKostya for commentary with BAC coach, IM Kostya Kavuitsky.