Season 1, Battle 2
Wow! What a night Battle 2 turned out to be. There seemed all to play for as Bischwiller, not content with the introduction of team champion, GM Etienne Bacrot last week, introduced another in the form of GM Arkadij Naiditsch. Surely tonight there was now a team who could challenge the masterful LSG?
As I play too, it can be hard, through the fog of war, to remember or even be aware of the progression of each team. I wish I was in on all of the stories, the individual battles, the victories snatched from the jaws of defeat, but I can only write from my own perspective.
So that is why I will begin with Halesowen. We were in 3rd place for such a long time throughout the battle that I had gotten a little too comfortable with it. My own performance was lacklustre and that I finished as 5th top scorer shows that we need to strengthen if we are to survive week upon week. Thankfully, the other players pulled their weight. Dave Bissell playing as BexB, John Edge, playing as diagonaliser – who I’m sure was pleased with his draw against 2500+ FraGer68 from the Bischwiller team. Fearless_Finlay finished as the team’s second lead scorer but still felt he underperformed despite drawing a game with the maestro that is LSGeneraal from the LSG team. It was GM Keith Arkell’s night as, clearly in his element, he stood at Halesowen’s head, and held his place with some of the best players in the world.
I remember wondering if Vasteras would fall at one point as they seemed to be struggling in the relegation zone. I watched the same thing happen to Roy Rene last week when a few of their superstar players were missing. The next thing I know, Vasteras had fought their way into 3rd position by the end of the tournament. A solid line-up of 5 leaders with scores from 22-30 helped keep them a head above the chasing pack. Well done to captain, Jonas Granath, the on-the-night Vasteras champion, Johan Nordebrink, and the rest of the battle-hardened Swedish team for another great performance.
Liverpool was in the relegation zone for a while and, toward the end, they managed to fight their way to 3rd as pointed out by one of the team’s jubilant players in the chat at one point. Liverpool held it well from then on, only slipping a little to 4th by the time it was all over. Again a solid front line, helped a team hold a place in the 1st 10. A proper team of battlers with a real sense of pride for their club that drives them onto great things. You cannot buy passion like that, you’re born into it. Truly amazing to see.
With it being Kings Head CC’s first time in the 1st 10, I did wonder which way they would go. A team with such a prestigious history deserves to do well and I wanted them to do well. They didn’t disappoint. They pulled a solid team which proved just strong enough to finish 1 point above the relegation zone. Now that they know the lay of the land, we may see a stronger Kings Head team next week.
It was shame for Wolverhampton, their champion on the night, Nat Paul scored exceptionally high, standing shoulder to shoulder with many masters. The rest of the team didn’t perform badly either, it’s just they lacked that extra bit of sparkle that would have edged them into safety. A 2-point win was all that separated them from Kings Head.
Lewisham’s die-hard battlers couldn’t find the firepower and ended up in last place. Isle of Wight had GM Bogdan Lalic line up, but then he left without playing a game. The rest of the team performed admirably but couldn’t do enough to stay up. Malahide yet again join Lewisham in the Contenders where both teams have the chance to win that division.
This night though, was really only about two teams. First, the mighty Bischwiller, growing from strength to strength they have fought their way from the bottom almost to the very top. Their wiley captain, Arnaud Ogier, put forward a fabulous and star-studded team consisting of none other than Super GMs Etienne Bacrot and Arkadij Naiditsch. There was also a 2500 player from super team Baden-Baden in attendance. Surely this firepower would be enough to propel Bischwiller to the prized number one spot!
However, LSG, a team of masters, had other plans. They are not used to coming second to anybody and their top scorer, LSGeneraal, a champion’s champion, scored an out-of-this-world 72 arena points. The second-placed individual player, GM Etienne Bacrot scored 42, itself a superstar score. Can there be anyone to challenge the mighty LSGeneraal? Will LSG win every battle so convincingly?
What a Kill List from LSGeneraal. Rumours abound as to who this masked man is. Word is, he is a newly crowned Dutch Grandmaster and we are truly honoured by his presence. Long may he continue to slaughter us all at ease. However, we must have him challenged. Another like him must be found, if only to keep things interesting.
Hereis the final 10 individual standings. As you can see, LSGneraal stands several shoulders above the rest.
IM Ameet Ghasi returned for Sutton Coldfield after their relegation last week, bringing them back to full strength where along with the mighty Henrik Stepanyan, they were expected to top the Contenders. However, Roy Rene, also relegated last week, were also back to full strength with their champion FM Yesaiedo, a top 100 ultrabullet player, berserking his way through all opposition. Roy Rene had three champion players, joining FM Yesaiedo was Kapinovo and FM UnSinge2700. The three of them ensured Roy Rene finished convincingly in 1st place, 48 points ahead of Sutton Coldfield in 2nd. Every head in the 1st 10 should glance over their shoulder to look at the might of Roy Rene. For if they come at full strength next week, our place there is even more in question.
The fun does not stop there. Two more teams, this time from Eastern Europe in the form of Polish side, Kujawsko – Pomorski Związek Szachowy and Мурманский областной шахматный интернет-клуб, a team from the Murmansk region of Russia, both topped the Final Stage division very convincingly. They have some very strong players and may perhaps be able to turn out even stronger. We shall see.
Onward we ride, to battle 3.