The struggle between Baniel and Drake will be a fight for second place. The game to watch is Duke vs. King. Both players will be motivated to draw if they want to enhance their chances for making the team but we shall see how this particular contest plays out. The last four rounds will be more about trying to make the team now.
Baniel and Drake settled the game peacefully in just ten moves. Both are assured of spots in the team with three rounds left to go. A tense game developed between Duke and King. Both are new to All-Army Chess and instead of halving the point early, both decided to fight for the point. This strategy benefits one and hurts the other. Veteran players over time have adopted a strategy, borne out of experience, guaranteeing a spot in the top six. The strategy involves playing to draw against equal or stronger opposition and play to win against weaker opponents.
Macaspac continued his winning streak to nine games. Donovan managed yet again to lose a winning advantage this time against West. I am sure he is disappointed with the outcome of this game. In a sense, he handed West a gift. His outside chances to take the 6th spot on the team have been kept alive courtesy of Donovan’s many errors especially with his 66th move. West’s 66…a4 is a blunder but it is hard to suggest anything better. I am not sure if either player is really aware of the truth in the position.
Duke imploded against Drake and lost quickly in 22 moves. He recklessly blundered a pawn and the right to castle on move six, which can only be attributed to a classic case of simple oversight. It got worse on move ten when he allowed a knight fork on e6. The game was totally lost at that point. Duke came very close to making the team in his first try. I am sure he will have many chances in the years to come.
This year’s edition of chess rivalry between the armed services is already showing hints of historical proportions. For the first time ever in the history of military chess, a lone Air Force tigress laid waste to a field of mesmerized men by defeating the top boards of both the Army and Navy teams.
Baniel beat Ranario in round five to take sole lead in a 20-player field with 4.5 points. Dulger who is proving to be the sensation of the tournament is only half a point behind. Baniel’s score reflecting his solid performance is enough to guarantee a team spot on the US Armed Forces Team for the NATO event. The Army is now tied with the Air Force, each team with 19 points. Individual scores and team standing will be posted in the next entry.
Baniel keeps his lead despite losing his sixth round game to Choate, the Navy’s top seed. Eight players (Keough, Bucholtz, Dulger, Ranario, Echaure, Macaspac, Pitts and Choate) are behind Baniel’s heels at four points each.
All Inter-Service photos on this blog are by NTD Ron Braud.
Pitts vs. Dulger, Round 6
Adkins vs. Smith, Round 6
Dixon vs. King, Round 6
Macaspac vs. Bucholtz, Round 6
Nichols vs. Carrelli, Round 6
Pagtam vs. Pihl
Ranario vs. Drake, Round 6
Recinos vs. Keough
West vs. Echaure, Round 6
Specialist Jhonel Baniel of the Army Medical Department demolished Air Force surgeon Dr. (Colonel) Sam Echaure in the last round of the 2008 US Armed Forces Inter-Service Chess Championship to secure top honors finishing with 5.5 points. A week-long stellar performance earned him a hallowed place in the tradition-rich annals of military chess. His name is forever etched in the record books alongside world famous players like IM Emory Tate.