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New England Nor'easters are the 2010 US Chess League Champions! Print E-mail
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
November 23, 2010
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FM Braden Bournival, IM Sam Shankland, IM David Vigorito, NM Carey Theil, IM Robert Hungaski, NM Alex Cherniack, FM Charles Riordan, IM Jan van de Mortel and FM Christopher Chase

Kostya Kavutskiy of the LA Vibe covers the 2010 US Chess League Championship match between the New England Nor'Easters and the Miami Sharks, held on November 20th.

FM Christopher Chase (NE) vs. FM Charles Galofre 1-0


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This was the final position on Board 3 in the 2010 USCL Championship match between the New England Nor'easters and the Miami Sharks. Disastrously, FM Galofre was unable to make it to the match because of unexpected car trouble, giving New England a forfeit win on the third board. Obviously this put a very large thorn in Miami's side, who was unable to overcome the early deficit.

The New England Nor'easters won the match 3-1, thanks to Super-IMs Sam Shankland and Robert Hungaski who defeated GM Julio Becerra and FM Marcel Martinez on boards 1 and 2. The one bright spot for Miami in this match was board 4 youngster Nicholas Rosenthal, who upset NM Alex Cherniack. Rosenthal has won 4 games in a row now against considerably higher rated opposition, and deservedly won the Postseason Endgame Clothing Upset Prize.

Here are the games in the match, which were quite interesting:

IM Sam Shankland (NE) - GM Julio Becerra (MIA)

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Be3
5.h3 is the main line
5...dxe4
5...Bg4 is more common, taking advantage of the fact that White didn't play h3.
6.Nxe4 Nf6

6...Nd7 was played in Pruess, D - Becerra, J - 2008 <--perhaps this was part of Shankland's preparation? 7.Nxf6+ exf6
7...Bxf6?! would be inadvisable due to 8.Bh6.
8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.c4+=

shankland-becerra_1.jpg
White has a better structure, more space and easier development, which makes the position overall easier to play.
10...Na6 11.Qd2 Bf8 12.Rfd1 Bf5 13.a3 Nc7 14.Rac1 Be4 15.Ne1 b5?!

shankland-becerra_2.jpg
This move does not work out in the complications, but I'm guessing GM Becerra knew he had to win on this board if Miami was going to have any chance in the match, therefore justifying this risky decision.
16.d5! bxc4

The best continuation is 16...cxd5 17.cxb5 Qd7 18.a4 Bd6 19.Nf3 and White has a large advantage.
17.dxc6 Qxd2 18.Rxd2 Nd5 19.Rxc4 Nxe3 20.fxe3 Bh6 21.Nc2 Rac8 22.Bf3 Bxc2 23.Rdxc2 Bxe3+ 24.Kf1
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We're left with an interesting endgame, which was reached with best play after 15...b5. White has a very strong passed pawn on c6 and the potential to create a second passed pawn on the queenside. Black's only hope is to trade rooks and try to hold the ensuing opposite colored bishop endgame, where perhaps he can blockade White's pawns on the queenside and try to create a passed pawn of his own on the queenside.
24...Bb6
c7 was threatened, followed by Bb7
25.Rd2 Red8 26.Ke2 f5 27.a4 Kf8 28.b4 Rxd2+ 29.Kxd2 Rd8+ 30.Kc2 Bc7 31.h3 h5 32.a5 Ke7 33.Kb3 Rd3+ 34.Rc3 Rxc3+ 35.Kxc3 Bg3 36.Kc4 Kd6?!
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Perhaps the losing mistake, because I don't see a way to stop the plan that White employed in the game. 36...Be1!? might be a better try after 37.Kb5 Kd6 38.Bd5 f6 39.Bf7 g5 40.Bxh5 Bc3 and I think this would be difficult to win--Black can still create a passed pawn on the kingside and for the time being has stopped White's pawns.
37.b5 Bf2 38.Bd5 h4 39.Bxf7 g5 40.Bd5 g4 41.b6 axb6 42.a6! b5+ 43.Kxb5 Ba7 44.Bb3 Kc7 45.Bd1 gxh3
45...g3 46.Bc2 f4 47.Be4 Kd6 48.Kc4 Bb6 49.Bf3 Be3 50.Kd3 Ba7 51.Ke2 and White wins.
46.gxh3 f4 47.Bf3 Bf2 48.Kc4 Kd6 49.Kd3 Kc7 50.Bd5 Bb6 51.Ke4 Bc5 52.Kxf4 Kb6 53.Kg4 Bd6 54.Kxh4 Kxa6 55.Kg5 Be7+ 56.Kg4 Kb6 57.h4 Bd8 58.h5 Kc5 59.Kf5 1-0
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Black ran out of time here, but the game is over--one of White's pawns will queen.

FM Marcel Martinez (MIA) - IM Robert Hungaski (NE)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 Qc7 7.Qe2 d6 8.f4!?
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FM Martinez chooses to gain space on the kingside early in the game, always leaving the option of the e5/f5 advance. 8.c4 followed by Nc3 and Rd1 is the main line for this position.
8...g6 9.c4 Bg7 10.Nc3 0-0 11.Kh1 b6 12.Nf3 Nc6N

12...Bb7 was played in De Firmian, N - Serper, G in the 2000 US Championship.
13.Bd2 Bb7 14.Rae1 Nd7

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The maneuvering begins, White should try to prepare an advance on the kingside while Black will look for counterplay on the queenside.
15.Bb1 Rae8 16.b3 Qb8 17.Qf2 b5!? 18.cxb5 axb5 19.Bd3

19.Nxb5 Ba6 20.a4 Bxb5 21.axb5 Qxb5 Black will have counterplay against the b3-pawn and in the center.
19...Ba6 20.Qe2 Nb4 21.Bb1

martinez-hungaski_3.jpg
21.Bxb5 Nxa2 22.Bxa6 Nxc3 23.Qe3 Nc5 24.Bxc3 Bxc3 25.Qxc3 Nxa6 26.f5 Qc8 with equality.
21...Nc6 22.Bd3 Nb4 23.Bb1 Nc6 24.Bd3 Nc5 25.Bxb5 Bxc3 26.Bxa6 Bxd2 27.Nxd2 Qa8
27...Nb4 28.Bb5 Rc8 and Black has good pressure on the queenside as compensation for the pawn.
28.Bc4 d5!

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29.Qf2
29.exd5 exd5 30.Qf2 Rxe1 31.Rxe1 Qxa2 and White has many weak points in his position.
29...Qa5 30.exd5 exd5 31.Rxe8 Rxe8 32.Bxd5?
The losing mistake, after a well played game by White (32.f5! the point being that after 32...g5 (32...dxc4 33.fxg6+-) 33.Bxd5 Nd3 34.Qf3 Qxd2 35.Bxc6 Re3 as played in the game, fails to 36.Qd5 Re1 37.Qd8+ Kg7 38.f6+
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Analysis after 38.f6+

...and Black will soon be mated.
32...Nd3 33.Qf3 Qxd2 34.Bxc6
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The final combination instructively shows how to exploit the back rank weakness.
34...Re3 35.Qd5 Re1 36.Qf3 Re3 37.Qd5 Re1 38.Qf3 Qe3! 0-1

martinez-hungaski_7.jpg
A nice finish!

Nicholas Rosenthal (MIA) - NM Alex Cherniack (NE)

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Qe2!?
An interesting way to develop into the King's Indian Attack.
3...dxe4

3...Nf6 is playable too.
4.dxe4 e5!?
Black chooses to transpose into an open structure, believing that giving White a free move to play Qe2 is nothing to worry about.
5.Nf3 Nc6 6.c3 
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6.Qb5 would have made my day.
6...Bd6 7.g3 Bg4 8.Bg2 h6 9.h3 Be6 10.0-0 Qd7 11.Kh2 g5!?
rosenthal-cherniack_2.jpg
Black has made his intentions clear--he will castle queenside and attack via pawnstorm.
12.Nfd2!
I like this maneuver by White, the knight on f3 would only be a hazard to White by inviting Black to play a quick g5-g4. The knight on c4 can jumpstart White's future attack on the queenside.
12...Nge7?!

Perhaps better was 12...g4 13.h4 0-0-0 14.Nc4 Bc5 where after the natural 15.b4 Black has a nice simplifying trick with 15...Bxb4! 16.cxb4 Nd4 17.Nxe5 forced, as Qd3 loses to Nf3+, otherwise the knight on c4 is hanging 17...Nxe2 18.Nxd7 Nxc1 19.Rxc1 Rxd7.
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Position after 19...Rxd7


Black is completely fine in the endgame; 12...0-0-0 looks stronger than the text too--the basic idea is to move the bishop off the d-file and stop Rd1.
13.Nc4 Ng6?!
I'm not sure how much the knight really does here, but later it provides a spectacular sacrifice that unfortunately Black passed over (13...f5 14.Rd1 f4 gets Black's attack rolling but White's position is still to be preferred.)
14.Rd1 0-0-0 15.Nba3±

Black's king position is just easier to attack, with the only true defender being the Nc6, which can easily be pushed away with b4-b5.
15...Qe7 16.b4 h5 17.Nxd6+ cxd6 18.Qe3 g4 19.b5 Nb8
19...gxh3 20.Bf1! (20.bxc6 hxg2 is unclear) 20...Nb8 21.Qxa7 would be close to winning for White.
20.h4 Rhg8 21.Kg1 b6 22.Nc2?!
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This gives Black hope. 22.Qe2 would have stopped Black's potential sacrifice 22...Nxh4 23.gxh4 Qxh4 24.Be3 g3 25.Kf1±. 
22...Kb7
22...Nxh4!! looks like Black's last chance 23.gxh4 Qxh4 24.Ne1 (24.Qe2 g3 25.fxg3 Rxg3 26.Ne1 Rdg8 27.Rd3 Rxd3 28.Nxd3 Qg3 and Black is winning with threats of Bc4 and h5-h4-h3) 24...g3 25.Nf3 gxf2+ 26.Qxf2 Qxe4...
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Position after 26...Qxe4

with a woefully unclear position.
23.Nb4 Rc8 24.a4 Rc5 25.Ba3!
The game is almost over now; White will win material shortly.
25...Rgc8 26.Nd5 Rxd5 27.exd5 Bf5 28.a5 Nd7 29.axb6 Nxb6 30.Bb4 Nf8 31.Ra6 Qc7 32.Rda1 Ra8 33.Qxe5!
rosenthal-cherniack_6.jpg
A beautiful shot to simplify the victory
33...dxe5 34.d6+ e4 35.dxc7 Ne6 36.Bd6 Nc8 37.Be5 Nxc7 38.Rf6 1-0

Once again, a very nice attacking effort by Rosenthal!

Congratulations again to the New England Nor'easters, who took the best regular season record of all time and proved their dominance in the postseason.

Now the 2010 USCL Playoffs may be completed, but the season is not over! Stay tuned to uschessleague.com for more playoff recaps, as well as the very exciting Game Of The Year contest!
 
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November - Chess Life Online 2010

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