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USCL Week 8: Blunders & Brilliancies Print E-mail
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
October 21, 2013
USCLmainlogo.jpgAs we get closer to the post-season, in some divisions it's become clear as to which teams will advance, while for others the race seems to get tighter and tighter. There were some very lopsided results this week due to a combination of blunders and stellar performances.

Manhattan Applesauce posted 3.5 - 0.5 against the New York Knights and overtook the divisional lead in the Atlantic Division, while the Los Angeles Vibe also won 3.5 - 0.5 against the Seattle Sluggers to jump into the second spot in the Pacific Division. The San Francisco Mechanics scored an impressive 4 - 0 against the Arizona Scorpions to practically clinch the Pacific division title, while the Dallas Destiny won yet again to earn the best record in the league thus far, at 7 - 1. The New England Nor'easters slipped and narrowly lost to the Baltimore Kingfishers, but they still maintain their first place standing in the Northeast division.

Here are this week's full results, followed by the current divisional standings:

Manhattan Applesauce vs. New York Knights (3.5 - 0.5)
New Jersey Knockouts vs. Philadelphia Inventors (2 - 2)
Connecticut Dreadnoughts vs. Boston Blitz (2.5 - 1.5)
New England Nor'easters vs. Baltimore Kingfishers (1.5 - 2.5)

Dallas Destiny vs. Carolina Cobras (3.5 - 0.5)
Miami Sharks vs. St. Louis Archbishops (2 - 2)
San Francisco Mechanics vs. Arizona Scorpions (4 - 0)
Seattle Sluggers vs. Los Angeles Vibe (0.5 - 3.5)

Western Conference

South Division
Dallas Destiny (7 - 1)
Miami Sharks (6 - 2)
St. Louis Arch Bishops (4.0 - 4.0)
Carolina Cobras (0.5 - 7.5)

Pacific Division
San Francisco Mechanics (5.5 - 2.5)
Los Angeles Vibe (3.5 - 4.5)
Seattle Sluggers (3 - 4)
Arizona Scorpions (2 - 6)

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Manhattan Applesauce (4.5 - 3.5)
New York Knights (4 - 4)
New Jersey Knockouts (4 - 4)
Philadelphia Inventors (2.5 – 5.5)

Northeast Division
New England Nor'easters (6 - 2)
Connecticut Dreadnoughts (5 - 3)
Boston Blitz (3.5 – 4.5)
Baltimore Kingfishers (3 - 5)    

Here are this week's top games, as well as some classic USCL blunders:

GM Conrad Holt (DAL) – IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) 1-0 (game of the week!)

20.g4!N A powerful novelty, potentially changing the entire evaluation of this line. Previously strong Grandmasters such as Kasimdzhanov and Lupulescu just repeated moves with Be2-Bd3, chasing Black's queen and forcing a perpetual. But this pawn sacrifice is incredibly dangerous, and I doubt any players will venture into this line in the future. 20...Qxg4 21.Qd2 Now White wants to put a rook on the newly opened g-file, weaken the dark-squares, and offer the Black king a gentle massage, err...a brutal checkmate!
21...Nxc4 A reasonable reaction, trying to generate some counterplay as quickly as possible. I have no idea what Conrad had in store in the minefield that is this position, but here are some lines showing the promise of White's attack:

21...Qh5 22.Rdg1! It's important to use this rook so that 22...g6 can be met with 23.h4! with the deadly threat of Be2, trapping Black's queen, and there is no defense... 23...Nxc4 24.Qe1!+- and Be2 next;

Perhaps Black's best try is 21...Qh5 22.Rdg1 Nxc4! 23.Bxc4 dxc4 and if 24.Bh6 g6 This is definitely a position where either dark-squared bishop is worth about as much as a rook, if not more, and here White can take on f8 or play a move like Nb5. Either way the position remains supremely complicated, but with serious attacking chances for White.;

21...dxc4? is a serious mistake, since after 22.Rhg1 Qh5 23.Be2 Qh4 24.Rg4 Qe7 25.Bg5+- White's attack is too strong.

22.Bxc4 dxc4 23.Rhg1 Qh4 24.Bg5 Qh5 25.Bf6 g6 26.f3!!


An amazing move, threatening Rg4-h4, trapping Black's queen. I'm not sure if Conrad had this idea prepared at home or not, but either way, it's pretty devastating. Black's dark-squares are just too weak. 26...Re8 (26...Bc5 27.Rg4 Bxd4 28.Rxd4+- and Rh4 + Qh6 next, Black can resign.) 27.Rg5 Qh6 28.Nb5! This move is the only drawback to Re8, but it's enough to decide the game, as White is simply winning a rook. 28...Qf8 29.Nc7 Rb8 30.Nxe8 b5 (30...Qxe8 31.Qd8+-) 31.Qd8


The rest of the game was pretty in terms of being quite aesthetic, but it wasn't “pretty” in terms of being a total massacre. The Bf6 sealed Black's fate into an inevitable back-rank checkmate. 31...b4 32.Qd6 Bb7 33.Qxb8 Bxf3 34.Bg7 Qc5 35.Bh6 Be4+ 36.Ka1 Bb2+ 37.Kxb2 bxc3+ 38.Ka1



GM Zviad Izoria (MAN) – GM Tamaz Gelashvili (NY) 1-0 (2nd place GOTW)


23.Nxa5! A strong combination in a dominating position, making use of the vulnerable Bb7 and the potential discovered attack on the Ra7 via c5-c6. 23...Rxa5 (23...Nxa5 24.c6! Nxc6 25.Bxa7 Nxa7 26.Rxb7+- White has an extra exchange and Black's knights are just too loose.) 24.Rxb7 Now White's advantage is decisive. It's not the a5-pawn that was important, but the fact that White's Rb7 and Nd5 are just incredible pieces. The threat of Bb5 and the weakness of the e7-pawn gives White a winning initiative.

24...Ra3 25.Bb5 Ndb8 26.Rd1!


Activating another piece, with the threat of Nxe7+ 26...Kf8 27.Bf4 Activating yet another piece! Now White is just breaking through and winning material. 27...Qe6 28.Bxb8 Nxb8 [28...Rxb8 29.Bxc6+- with an extra piece] 29.Rxe7 Qc8 30.Qb4


Finally activating the last piece, the queen, which makes threats against Black's king while also supporting the c-pawn, ultimately winning the game for White. Notice how Black's "beautiful" bishop on g7 has been a poor spectator to the action this whole time. The game concluded after 30...Ra2 31.c6 Kg8 32.c7 Rf8 33.Re8 Rxe8 34.Bxe8 Na6 35.Ne7+ Kh8 36.Nxc8 Nxb4 37.Nd6



Blunders seemed to be the trend for this week, with several games ending quite unexpectedly:

NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) – Zachary Tanenbaum (CON) 0-1


In this position White was certainly pressing a bit in view of their more active pieces, but now came 30.f4?? Overlooking Black's subtle threat... 30...Rxc6!


Down a full piece, White resigned just a few moves later. 0–1

IM Luke Harmon-Velotti (LA) – IM Georgi Orlov (SEA) 1-0


19...Qxh2+? A seemingly obvious move (after all, why setup with Qh4 and Rh6 if you're not going to take on h2), but here it only leads to trouble! 20.Kf2! The only legal move, now White threatens Rg1, winning Black's queen. 20...Bh3 21.Rg1!


Black has prevented the threat of Rh1, but now Nf1 is deadly! The queen is trapped behind enemy lines and the game is already lost for Black. 21...g5 Pure desperation. (The last chance was 21...Be7, but now 22.Kf3!+- White threatens to capture on h3, and if Black moves the bishop away then Rh1 wins the queen once again.) 22.Nf1!


As promised, and Black had to part ways with their queen. Although Orlov was able to win against Los Angeles last time, also being down a queen for a rook, he wasn't as resourceful this time and Harmon played well enough to take the full point. 1–0

The Sluggers were plagued with even more disaster, see this game from the same match:

NM Roland Feng (SEA) - FM Mark Duckworth (LA) 0-1


Where should the king move to? It was here that White needed to make the most important decision of the game. If the king could evade the perpetual checks from Black's queen, then the game would be won, since the Be7 is pinned and lost.

38.Kg2? Blowing the win! It was important to go to the f2-square first, since Black wouldn't have a convenient Qd2+ (38.Kf2! Qd4+ 39.Kg2! Only now, since the queen can't jump to e2, 39...Qb2+ 40.Kg3 Black is out of checks and would have to resign very soon.)

38...Qe2+ Now Black makes an easy perpetual, since the king can't escape...or can it? 39.Kg3 Qe1+ 40.Kg4??


Qh4# A tragedy! 0–1

And lastly, the shortest game of the week:

FM Pedram Atoufi (ARZ) – GM Daniel Naroditsky (SF) 0-1

16...Qh6+! 0–1

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.  You can also follow @USChessLeague & @hellokostya on Twitter. 

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