GM Giorgi Margvelashvili (2593) - SM Denys Shmelov (2502) 0.5-0.5 View Game
GM Larry Kaufman (2445) - FM Kazim Gulamali (2419) 0-1 View Game
NM Jared Defibaugh (2357) - NM Vadim Martirosov (2345) 1-0 View Game
FM Ralph Zimmer (2304) - NM Ilya Krasik (2261) 1-0 View Game
Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.
The Baltimore Kingfishers clinched the 4th spot in the Eastern Division and a playoff spot with a win over the Boston Blitz. Baltimore finished the season with a 5.5-4.5 record, tied with New York though they took 3rd place on the first tiebreaker.
Board 1: The game began with a Queen's Gambit: Slav with white playing 4. Qb3 with a later fianchetto on the kingside. White's pair of bishops allowed him to win a pawn in the middle game. As boards 2 and 3 concluded, the match was tied 1-1 with board 4 looking unclear, so GM Margvelashvili had to press for the win. Then suddenly, FM Zimmer won his game and it became clear that Baltimore just needed a draw to win the match and secure a playoff spot, so GM Margvelashvili offered the clinching draw. He certainly could have played on to try to win in the final position:
Board 2: FM Gulamali won the Game of the Week and it is analyzed by GM Alex Yermolinsky on ICC. This very exciting game started as a French Defense: Steinitz, Bradford Attack. White castled queenside and aimed his pieces at black's kingside. FM Gulamali even sacrificed a knight to prevent a queen trade and open up the kingside. It looked like GM Kaufman should be able to hold the position, but he blundered with 26... Bg7:
FM Gulamali found a spectacular mate with 27. g6 Qf6 28. Rh8+! Bxh8 29. Qh7+ Kf8 30. Bb4+ Nd6 31. Bxd6+ Ke8 32. Qg8+ and blacked resigned before 32... Qf8 33. Qf8#.
Board 3: A Scotch Gambit transposed into a tame Two Knights Defense/Philidor Defense. NM Martirosov decided to allow his pawns to be doubled on the e-file and soon white won control of the open d-file. White managed to get his queen and rook lined up on the 7th rank and black had to look for a perpetual against the white king to try to survive. The perpetual just wasn't there as seen in the game when NM Defibaugh won, but there was a very interesting attempt not played after 36. Kh4:
If black tried 36... Rf4+, NM Defibaugh noted that 37. g4! wins with 37... Qf2+ 38. Kh5 Qxh2+ 39. Kg6 Rf6+ 40. Qxf6 gxf6 41. Ra8#. White had to avoid the mistake 37. gxf4? Qf2+ 38. Kg4 (38. Kh3? and Kh5? are actually forced mates for black! i.e. 38. Kh5 Qxf3+ 39. Kg6 Qxe4+ [not 39... Qg4+ 40. Qg5! with Ra8# coming] 40. Kh5 Qf3+ 41. Kg6 [41. Kh4 Qxf4+ 42. Kh5 Qf3+ 43. Kh4 g5+ and black will win the queen and rook] Qd3+ 42. Kh5 Qh3+ 43. Qh4 [43. Kg6 Qf5#] Qf5+ 44. Qg5 hxg5 and now black has h7 for the king) Qg2+ with a perpetual check.
Board 4: In what started as a Benoni, the game transposed into Queen's Gambit Declined and Queen's Indian lines. The game became very interesting when FM Zimmer sacrificed his two queenside pawns and a rook for a bishop and white's g-pawn to open up NM Krasik's king. Black's attack took a little while to develop and white missed some chances to defend better. For example, white could have played 27. Be4 with the idea of returning the exchange on d5 and 34. h3 instead of giving up the exchange with 34. Re4. Thus, black's adventurous play was rewarded and FM Zimmer ended the game with a picturesque queen sacrifice for mate with 43... Qd1+: