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Jennifer's Blog
By Jennifer Shahade   
September 22, 2006
Hi everyone,
Who's going to win the World Championship?
Who's going to win the U.S. Chess League?
Biased Chess Life Online Answer: Topalov and the Knights.
I've never been one for editorial neutrality, at least not on my blog.


I'll be on on September 24 and September 30 commenting for the World Championship , and on Sept.27 and October 4 for the U.S. Chess League. If you live in New York, be sure to check out the Knights pregame party and lecture at the Marshall Chess Club on Monday, Sept 25. 7 pm, with a Game of the Week presentation by GM Pascal Charbonneau, and special guest, league commissioner Greg Shahade. Cheer us on to break the Seattle Slugger's 4-0 streak.

If you want to hear more about my thoughts on the league, and, check out the recent interview.

Week 4 USCL Recap

Four matches into the U.S. Chess League, two teams, Seattle and Boston are 4-0. San Francisco is just behind with 3.5/4. All three teams blog regularly, which I've linked to above... maybe that's what keeping them ahead? So, as manager of the New York Knights, I've resolved to blog every week, win or lose(OK, sorry- no blog if we go 0-4!)...

One of the cool things about the U.S. Chess League is the designation of one out of the 20 weekly face-offs as "Game of the Week." This week's gem was GM Julio Becerra's victory over GM Pawel Blehm:


16. Bf5!! earns one exclam for its tactical points, and one for its positional points. Bxc3 Qxc3 and Black can't take the other bishop because of Qg7 mate. But the immediate 16....Bxf5 as played in the game is met by 17.Rxd4 and Black lost control of the dark squares. Julio took maximum advantage, following through with flashy blows, 23.Bg5 and 24.Rxd7!

Philly, always close.

Richard Costigan scored a nice one against Steven Winer of Boston.

My father, Mike Shahade who unfortunately has not yet figured out how to blog, believes that this game by his lifelong friend Rick Costigan against Steven Winer should have been a candidate for Game of the Week. Mike
Shahade was particularly impressed by 13.Qd2! Philadelphia does deserve some credit and sympathy, as they've lost every game by the smallest possible margin 1.5-2.5, giving them 0 match points, but six game points. Boohoo.


New York-Carolina Recap

Board 1: Lev Milman- Pascal Charbonneau

Pascal is a talented multi-tasker. During the beginning of this game, he was relaying the other boards while taking on the strong IM Lev Milman, a sophomore at Duke University. He mated Milman very quickly, bringing his record to 2.5-1.5, marred only by a disappointing first round loss to Costigan. Milman was unable to get his king out of the center in this game. Pascal's Qh6 helped to ensure this.


Board 2: Jay Bonin-Jonathan Schroer

Jay Bonin defeated Schroer in typical Bonin-crunch.


"My doubled pawns on b3 and b2 may have been a strength," said Jay after the game,"because they restrict Black on the queenside." Jay celebrated his victory with champagne, perhaps trying to emulate Wednesday's New York Daily papers (Post, Daily News,etc.), all of which showed Derek Jeter drenched in champagne after the Yankees clinched another division championship. Speaking of the Yankees, I got a strange e-mail today directed at the New York Knights: You guys are worse than the Yankees! Uh... if that means we'll be Eastern Champs again, we'll take it.

Board 3: Oleg Zaikov-Mackenzie Molner

This game was the heartbreaker of the round. Zaikov began with 1.a3??! At first we thought it was a mouseslip, and that Zaikov really meant to play either 1.Na3 or 1.a4. But when league commissioner Greg Shahade confirmed 1.a3, Molner sank into thought, because this was not part of his opening preparation.


Molner played well and achieved a winning position, but got into time pressure and lost the thread. He would have more chances to save the endgame, according to Pascal, if he traded his b and a pawns for the a-pawn, and tried to hold onto the 3 vs. 2 on the kingside.

Board 4: Jennifer Shahade- John Kirby

I played in my first match for the New York Knights against NM John Kirby. I couldn't find any games by him on the database, so I had no idea what he'd play. I was neither excited nor disappointed to see the Caro-Kann, since I remember most of the theory of the Panov-Botvinnik from when I was more active. The attraction to the Panov is that it's easy to play for White, but unfortunately, I think it's actually even easier to play for Black! Therefore, I quit the Panov.


I think Black could get an easier game with Bd7 than 12...b6. 19...Bb7!? would be a bad move in a slow game, but with less than ten minutes each, the chances that I'd blunder probably outweighed the chances that I'd see the winning line. If 20. Nd7?? Bxg2! is crushing. After 21.Kxg2 Nh4+ 22. Kh1 Nf3 is the end of the World. I played 20.g3 instead, but missed Qg5 21.Nd7! after which Nxd4 cxd4 Qd5 is met by the surprising Qe4! Black cannot take the d7 Knight because of mate on h7, while Qxe4 Qxe4 Bxe4 leaves Black down an exchange for a pawn. Strangely, Fritz thinks this position is only +.5 for White, but it seems to me as though White is totally winning. Computers can be so silly sometimes.

Standings after four rounds

Boston 4.0
11.0 (69%)
Baltimore 2.0
9.0 (56%)
New York 2.0
6.5 (41%)
Carolina 1.0
6.5 (41%)
Philadelphia 0.0
6.0 (38%)

Seattle 4.0
13.0 (81%)
San Francisco 3.5
10.5 (66%)
Miami 2.0
8.0 (50%)
Dallas 1.0
6.5 (41%)
Tennessee 0.5
3.0 (19%)

Whoever has the most points in the "W" (win) column, is in the lead in the standings.
Total game points + win percentage are used as a tiebreaker.