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US Chess League: Week Three Highlights Print E-mail
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
September 24, 2012
USCLmainlogo.jpgThe third week of US Chess League action kicked off with tense battles in the Western division. Miami – Dallas  cemented the Dallas Destiny as the team to beat in the West, with FM Jeffrey Xiong winning quickly for the second week in a row.

Dallas now holds clear first in the division with a 2.5-0.5 match score.

Carolina - Los Angeles saw many blunders and some gross misuses of time, so in the end a draw was a bittersweet but fair result. Board one, IM Schroer vs. IM Amanov, was a display of how much of a negative effect time pressure can have on two otherwise solid IMs. What started out as a slow, positional struggle, turned into an absolute mess that I'm sure both players would like to forget as soon as possible:


Yep, 43.Qxc6 Rxc6 44.Rd8+ Kh7 45.Ng5+ and Black can resign.

Saint Louis – San Francisco was definitely a more solid match, with teams trading wins on boards three and four, including a smooth positional effort by IM Levan Bregadze over FM Samuel Sevian:


Seattle – Arizona saw the 2012 debut of GM Varuzhan Akobian, the highest rated player in the West, where he managed to score an important victory against IM Mackenzie Molner, leading to Seattle's victory.


On Wednesday night teams from the East took the stage, vying for an early lead in the playoff race, and there was just as much excitement as on Monday, if not more. The match between longtime rivals New York Knights and Boston Blitz ended in a rout for New York, with wins on boards two through four, including a win by rising star NM Justus Williams:


Connecticut – Baltimore was a high powered fight, with the teams trading wins on boards three and four, and the two GM-GM pairings ending in draws. However, this match was definitely decided by a very unfortunate mouseslip, which took place in a messy time scramble between GM Kaufman and GM Kekelidze (and thus couldn't be undone by league officials). Try to see if you can figure out which move was the mouseslip:


What's even more unfortunate for GM Kaufman is that even in the final position, where the players agreed to a draw, White is simply winning after 44.Qb8, where GM Kekelidze would have to give up a lot of material to avoid getting mated.

Philadelphia – New Jersey may have also been decided by a mouseslip, when GM Sergey Erenburg played 37.Qe4, which allowed GM Stripunsky to immediately trade into an easily won ending (so easy that Erenburg resigned without testing his opponent's technique at all), instead of 37.Qb7+, where Black is still a clear pawn up but is far off from converting the full point.


Although somewhat unlikely, had Erenburg kept queens on the board and found a way to semi-swindle a draw in mutual time pressure, Philadelphia would have won the match, but instead the final result was 2-2.

New England – Manhattan was an interesting encounter where GM Alexander Ivanov won from the White side of an open Sicilian, which is more or less his bread and butter in regular tournament play:


Despite this win, Manhattan won on boards three and four to take the match 2.5-1.5, and put themselves in a tie for first place in the East, along with New York and Connecticut.

Game of the Week

1st Place - SM Robert Perez (MIA) vs GM Julio Sadorra (DAL) 0-1


A characteristically sharp King's Indian, where knights dominated the increasingly unclear struggle, but GM Sadorra was able to make use of his chances and got the better of SM Perez in the tactical complications.

2nd Place - FM Ralph Zimmer (BAL) vs NM Joshua Colas (CON) 1-0


23.Rxf6! An original and high quality game by FM Zimmer, who showed some fantastic power positional play in the style of Aronian.

3rd Place - Shaun Smith (MAN) vs NM Ben Goldberg (NE) 1-0


It is not often that a game on board four will place in the GOTW contest, but this was a pure textbook example of the classical QGD minority attack!

Catch all the week four action live on ICC and Chess.com and find details on schedule, line-ups and more at uschessleague.com.

Kostya Kavutskiy will be filing weekly USCL recaps at uschess.org/clo. He won #3 in Best of CLO 2011 for his article on "Breaking 2366", and he is also a member of the Los Angeles Vibe.