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U.S. Chess League Week 1 Recap Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
August 30, 2007
Katerina Rohonyan of the Baltimore Kingfishers, here pictured from the 2007 U.S. Women's. Photo Betsy Dynako
In the first week of the third season of the U.S. Chess League (August 27-November 28), the two expansion teams, The Queens Pioneers and the New Jersey Knockouts played to a draw. On Wednesday the other five teams played with San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas and Boston scoring victories. The most surprising result was the Baltimore Kingfisher's 3-1 upset victory over the New York Knights.

Week 1 scores:

New Jersey Knockouts-2: Queens Pioneers-2
San Francisco Mechanics- 3: Carolina Cobras- 1
Philadelphia Inventors-2.5: Miami Sharks-1.5
New York Knights-1: Baltimore Kingfishers-3
Tennessee Tempo-1: Dallas Destiny-3
Seattle Sluggers-1.5 : Boston Blitz-2.5

See all individual board scores here.

Katerina Rohonyan was the first to win for Baltimore, in a victory over fan favorite IM Jay Bonin.


It appeared that Irina Krush would make up for Jay's loss, as she achieved a dominant endgame position against Larry Kaufman.


Irina said, "I shouldn't have pushed e6 (on move 41) at the end...makes the win harder."

Position after 40...Kd7

Instead of 41.e6 in the position above, Irina could have won cleanly with 41. Bd5 followed by e6. Even after her error, she was not losing, but she made some more mistakes. (Instead of 45.a4, Ka4! or Kc4! and White would end up taking all the queenside pawns; By the time she played the losing 50.Kxa5?, she had to fight for a draw with 50.Bf3. )

On board one, Pascal Charbonneau lost, while U.S. Junior Champ Marc Arnold won, leaving the score 3-1 in favor of the Baltimore Kingfishers.

In the featured Monday night match, heavy hitting board one GMs, Joel Benjamin and Alexander Stripunsky played an interesting Sicilian. Joel responded precisely to Alex's offbeat g6 Kan with 8.Bf4! followed by 9.Be2, gaining a nice opening edge. Alexander got some exciting activity in the middlegame, but Joel managed to diffuse it calmly.


Vovsha won against Bartell and Teddy Coleman drew Mackenzie Molner on board three, leaving the final result up to Evan Ju- Julia Shiber. Shiber forced the win of Ju's queen but Ju got some play by quasi-trapping White's queen on a8. The game ended in a draw but Shiber can probably win with good technique.


Boards 1, 3 and 4 were drawn in the Philadelphia-Miami match while last year's Philly star Rick Costigan showed that he's back for more with this win:


Defending champions San Francisco Mechanics impressed once again with their balanced lineup. Vinay Bhat, who recently won his final GM norm and the young Daniel Naroditsky both won with the Black pieces.


In a face-off between two particularly spirited teams,The Boston Blitz won 2.5-1.5 against the Seattle Sluggers. The top three boards were drawn. Meanwhile, Chris Williams decided the match against Michael Lee on board four with a win on the White side of the Dragon Sicilian. Black got a good middlegame but was slightly worse when Chris managed to transpose into an ending. Fritz found a nice improvement over Lee's logical 29...a4 that should give Black a clear edge, 29...b4!

Position after 29...b4

Of course this move is hard to find because it allows 30. Bb3, seemingly putting overwhelming pressure on d5. However, Black has 30...bxc3! after which 31.bxc3 (31. Bxd5?? loses instantly to cxd2!) Rb8 32. Ka1 Qc8 is great for Black because 33. Bd5 Rxd5!


The third season of the U.S. Chess League has generated even more excitement than ever before, with numerous blogs and continuous ICC coverage. There's even a blog called "USCL Groupies!" Go to www.uschessleague.com for updates and links to stories and blogs written by team members and fans. And be sure to tune into chess.fm on Wednesday for six exciting matches. (There is no featured Monday game because of Labor Day.)