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U.S. Chess League Down to Playoff Wire Print E-mail
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.

Even though the Philadelphia Inventors are out of contention (The Phils will restore our honor!!), I will be playing alongside my father in the Philadelphia-Carolina match, bringing back memories of the fearsome 75% Pure Shahade Amateur Team East squads.

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.


 Pascal says: "I didn't really expect him to play ...c5 in the opening.  I remembered Bg5 vaguely.  But it turned out great and when my knight landed on d6, I think White is just winning without too many problems. The opening treatment early on led me to a very good position after Qg3."16.Qg3.jpg

"Then, I was happy with my "practical" choice of sacrificing a piece followed up by Rc4.


"I am sure this is not correct according to the machines, but I felt it would put pressure on Black at a time where my alternatives were just worse."

I'm sure every week, a player is pleasantly surprised or disappointed to hear of the GOTW picks. I'm glad the judges are human rather than a best game panel of Fritz, Rybka and Junior. Our judges have feelings! Indeed, the current poll question on the USCL blog is: " Should the GOTW judges keep the $ given out for the GOTW contest for themselves, canceling the GOTW contest for the future so that no one has anything to complain about and thereby everyone is kept happy?" I already voted and you should too.  

 Follow the exciting games to determine playoff spots and rankings live on ICC starting Wednesday at 7 PM EST and go to
www.uschessleague.com for links to blogs, complete games, stats, USCL merchandise and video wrap ups by Greg Shahade.