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East and West Collide in Week Four of US Chess League Print E-mail
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
September 22, 2013
USCLmainlogo.jpgFor the first time in the 2013 season, the East and the West finally collided. It was the annual showdown between the two conferences, where teams wanted to prove they belonged to the stronger conference-while also hoping that their divisional rivals would lose, giving them a leg up in the playoff race.

In the end the total match score was a tie, (even the game points scored were equal) with both conference winning four matches, but the individual divisional match-ups were both quite lopsided. The Atlantic Division won three out of four matches against the Pacific Division, with the New York Knights spoiling San Francisco's perfect record. The next night, the South Division was able to even the score, winning three out of four against the Northeast Division, and the Dallas Destiny and Miami Sharks each kept their perfect record.

US Junior Closed Champs 2012 Jeffery Xiong round 1.jpg
Xiong at the 2012 US Junior Closed, Photo CCSCSL 
So far Dallas fans can thank FM Jeffrey Xiong for their team's success. Jeffrey has 4/4 this season and leads the MVP race. This week he played a smooth game with the black pieces to defeat Baltimore's GM Larry Kaufman:


Here are all the results from the past week:

Tuesday, September 17

San Francisco Mechanics vs. New York Knights (1.5 - 2.5)
Manhattan Applesauce vs. Arizona Scorpions (1.5 - 2.5)
Seattle Sluggers vs. Philadelphia Inventors (1 - 3)
New Jersey Knockouts vs. Los Angeles Vibe (2.5 - 1.5)

Wednesday, September 18

New England Nor'easters vs. Carolina Cobras (3.5 - 0.5)
Miami Sharks vs. Boston Blitz (3.5 - 0.5)
Dallas Destiny vs. Baltimore Kingfishers (2.5 - 1.5)
Connecticut Dreadnoughts vs. St. Louis Archbishops (1 - 3)

And here are the standings after Week Four:

Western Conference

South Division

Miami Sharks (4 - 0)
Dallas Destiny (4 - 0)
St. Louis Arch Bishops (2 - 2)
Carolina Cobras (0 - 4)

Pacific Division

San Francisco Mechanics (3 - 1)

Arizona Scorpions (1.5 - 2.5) 
Los Angeles Vibe (1 - 3)
Seattle Sluggers (0.5 - 3.5)

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

New York Knights (2.5 - 1.5)
Philadelphia Inventors (2 - 2)
Manhattan Applesauce (1.5 - 2.5)
New Jersey Knockouts (1.5 - 2.5)

Northeast Division

New England Nor'easters (3.5 - 0.5)
Connecticut Dreadnoughts (2.5 - 1.5)
Boston Blitz (2 - 2)
Baltimore Kingfishers (0.5 - 3.5)

And now some highlights from the Game of the Week contest:

GM Emil Anka (SEA) - IM-elect Tom Bartell (PHI) 0-1 (game of the week!)

Bartell 1.jpg

In a sharp King's Indian battle, Bartell found 29...c3+! Launching a decisive attack, even after a trade of queens... 30.Ka1 c2+ 31.Qe5 Bf5! Threatening Rb1+ 32.Qxf6+ Kxf6 33.Ree1 Nc5

Bartell 2.jpg

White is up the exchange, but their pieces are too passive to influence the game anymore. Bartell finished things off quickly after 34.Nf3 Nd3 35.Ref1 Rb3
Bartell 3.jpg

Since Ka2 loses to Rb2+ and Be6 (followed by Ra2#), GM Anka resigned. 0-1


GM Alex Stripunsky (NJ) - GM Melik Khachiyan (LA) 1-0 (2nd place GOTW)

After 36 moves of a relatively quiet game the players reached the following position:

Stripunsky 1.jpg

37.Re8!! (I'm giving GM Stripunsky the benefit of the doubt here, because I assume he had already seen his 42nd move before making this one. If that's the case, then this move is fully deserving of high praise.) 37...Kf7 38.Rb8 Rg6 It seems like White's knight is trapped, but Stripunsky has prepared a neat little sacrifice... 39.Rxb7+ Kg8 40.Nh5 Be2 41.f5 Rg5 (41...exf5 42.Nf4+-)
Stripunsky 2.jpg

The point of White's previous play. The knight is sacrificed but White's king ends up working overtime and winning the game on his own.
42...Rxg7 43.Rb8+ Kh7 44.fxe6
White's e-pawn is incredibly strong, and Black must either give up their bishop for it, or let White's king capture all the queenside pawns.)
44...Rg4 45.e7 Re4+ 46.Kd6 Bh5 47.Kxc6 Rxe7
(47...Rxd4 48.e8Q Bxe8+ 49.Rxe8 Rxb4 50.Kd7+- is easily winning for White.) 48.Rb7!
The simplest path to victory, as Black's king is too far away to stop White's pawns. 48...Be8+ 49.Kb6 Rxb7+ 50.Kxb7 Kg6 51.Kxa6 Kf5 52.b5 1-0

IM Levon Altounian (ARZ) - IM Eli Vovsha (MAN) 1-0
(3rd place GOTW)

In the following position, White has a really nice advantage. They've got great central control, better piece placement, and connected rooks. So what to do?

Altounian 1.jpg

24.d5! Pressing forward! With better pieces and a more secure king any opening of the position is sure to benefit White. 24...e5 Unfortunately this move is kind of necessary, and Black's minor pieces are suffering from passivity. (24...exd5 25.Nxd5 Nxd5 26.Bxd5 Bxd5 27.Rxd5+- With threats of Rad1 and Rxh5 Black's position is without hope.) 25.Na5! Continuing the attack--this position clearly calls for a tactical breakthrough, and it comes soon: 25...Kc8 26.d6!
  Altounian 2.jpg

Correctly opening things up in White's favor. Bxc4 27.Nxc4 Nc6 28.Nb5 White wins a pawn and retains all of their positional pluses. 28...a6 (28...cxd6 29.Ncxd6+ Kb8 30.Nxb7+- and Black's position collapses.) 29.Nxc7 Rb8 30.Bb6
Altounian 3.jpg

With an extra pawn and a strict positional bind, IM Altounian had no problems slowly but surely converting the advantage. 1-0

Week Four starts on Tuesday, September 24. Find games, results, standings, line-ups, blogs, and more on www.uschessleague.com. Also make sure to check outwww.chess.com/tv Tuesday and Wednesday nights for live coverage of every USCL match! The coverage is open to all members (membership is free), and often features league commissioner IM Greg Shahade, and other special guests.  Make sure to follow@hellokostya on Twitter as well. 


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