|U.S. Chess League Down to Playoff Wire|
|By Jennifer Shahade|
|October 27, 2008|
The regular season of the U.S. Chess League concludes on Wednesday, October 29. Queens, Carolina and Boston have clinched Eastern division playoff spots, while New Jersey and New York will fight it out for the final spot, with NJ having draw odds. In the West, San Francisco, Miami, Dallas have clinched spots. Seattle is most likely to take the fourth spot, although Chicago and Arizona are not totally out of it. For more details, read Arun Sharma's in-depth run-down of possible playoff scenarios.
Last week there were a number of interesting games as well as a controversy in the New York-Baltimore match when a player offered a draw by mistake. Mouseslips are so frequent that there are very precise rules written for them, but this "drawslip" hadn't happened before (the draw was upheld.) Despite this board four drama, GM Pascal Charbonneau won a sparkling game against GM Sergey Erenburg that he and I both thought may be a candidate for Game of the Week, but in fact didn't even come close. Pascal and I were partly biased because Charbonneau holds the record for earning GOTW points (5 so far.)
I certainly can't complain too much about this week's GOTW as my team-mate GM Sergey Kudrin was the co-winner, for his tactics fest in the Alekhine with GM Larry Christiansen. This is the first time a draw has won GOTW since week 2 of 2006.
The judges didn't even rank Pascal's effort among the top three with descriptions (check this week's report here), probably because between the piece sacrifice that began with 23.Rh4 and the pretty finish with Qa7 and Rxc6, Black had several opportunities to rebuff White's attack.