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U.S. Chess League Week 5 Recap Print E-mail
By Robby Adamson   
September 27, 2007
USCLmainlogo.jpgThe second half of the U.S. Chess League (www.uschessleague.com) season began with a very hard fought match between the Co-West Division Leader Dallas Destiny and the desperate Miami Sharks.  No teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, but each match and individual game takes on greater significance. Game points, as one of the tiebreakers, could be the difference between a team making the playoffs and a team watching the USCL playoffs on the Internet Chess Club from their computers. 

Week 5 Results

1. Miami Sharks vs Dallas Destiny-1.5-2.5
2. New Jersey Knockouts vs New York Knights- 2.5-1.5
3. Boston Blitz vs Baltimore Kingfishers- TIE 2-2
4. Queens Pioneers vs Philadelphia Inventors- 1.5-2.5
5. Tennessee Tempo vs San Francisco Mechanics-0-4
6. Carolina Cobras vs Seattle Sluggers- TIE 2-2

Dallas looked primed to win the match with IM Alejandro Moreno Roman achieving a nice edge in the middle game, converting a pawn up, same color bishop ending against Dallas’s Andrei Zaremba.


 Meanwhile, 2006 USCL MVP, Julio Becerra, failed to attack accurately, and actually had to show some nice endgame technique to draw a pawn down rook and pawn ending.


 Becerra used most of his time to find 64. h4, and correctly evaluating Black’s Kh5, Kg4 maneuver as a draw with the required passive defense of 69. Ra1. 
Position after 64.h4

    Meanwhile, Dallas’s fourth board, NM Ryan Milisits got no advantage out of the opening in a c3-Sicilian.


Milisits found a nice combination with 32.Rxe7+! that netted 2 pieces for a rook and a miserable position for Roberto Socorregut that not even Rybka and Kasparov could hold.


 This left the match tied at 1.5-1.5, with Dallas IM John Bartholomew trying to win an exchange up position and seemingly easy rook ending against tough as nails IM Marcel Martinez.


After 89 moves, a few inaccuracies by John that made the ending a little more difficult to win, and some very tough defense by Marcel, John was finally able to convert the ending and win the match for Dallas. 

New Jersey holds on to top NY Knights

    Wednesday’s matches began with another exciting GM duel on board 1 between New Jersey’s Joel Benjamin and Week 4 Game of the Week Winner Pascal Charbonneau.  Benjamin easily defeated Pascal in a g3 Scheveningen, attacking on the kingside with the usual pawn storm.  Pascal never seemed to muster any counterplay.

  In the second game to finish, New Jersey’s third board, NM Mackenzie Molner, defeated FM Marc Arnold in a theoretically sharp Main Line 6.Bg5 Najdorf.


Molner's double knight sacrifices, 18.Nd5, and 21.Ne6+ made a strong impression.

Position after 21.Ne6+

WFM Iryna Zenyuk overcame a worse position to defeat New Jersey’s NM Evan Ju to give NY their first win with a rather simple tactic.  With the match score 2-1 in NJ’s favor, IM Robert Hess went all out to win a worse position against IM Mikhail Zlotnikov in a game that lasted 114 moves! After some inaccuracies, Hess managed to achieve a rook ending with excellent winning chances, but was unable to overcome his time disadvantage and had to settle for a draw.


 Boston held to draw by Baltimore, still lead East

The second match of the night featured East leader Boston Blitz and the resourceful Baltimore squad. Larry Christiansen was unable to capitalize on what appeared to be a much better middle game and endgame advantage against Baltimore’s Pavel Blehm.


On board 2, SM Jorge Sammour Hasbun (can they just give the IM title to Jorge already?) continued his winning ways over strong FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat in a game that was played quite slowly by both players, with Jorge emerging from the tactics with a winning position. After Boston’s NM Martirosov drew with WGM Katerina Rohonyon on board 3, Baltimore was able to tie the match when WIM Battesag defeated Boston’s Ilya Krasik.

Boston still leads the East division with a 4-1 record, a point ahead of Baltimore who has a 3-2 record and tied for second place.

Philadelphia defeats Queens Pioneers

The Philadelphia Inventors defeated the Queen Pioneer’s in the third match of the night. The only decisive game of the match was IM Richard Costigan defeating FM James Critelli, who seemed to get his pieces completely tangled in the middle game. GM Alexander Stripunsky was unable to top Philly’s GM Sergey Kudrin  , despite being up a pawn in the rook ending.


Philadelphia secured the match 2.5-1.5 and jumped into a second place tie with Baltimore.

San Francisco sweeps Tennessee 4-0.

This match was closer than the score indicates. Tennessee’s IM Ron Burnett wasted no time in livening up the game right out of the gates against GM Patrick Wolff.


15.Qh6 involved tons of complications that were impossible to calculate. Unfortunately for Ron, despite winning a queen for a rook and piece (just like Ron’s game last week against GM Becerra), Wolff’s 2 bishops proved to be way too strong, especially given Ron’s time pressure.

Position after 15. Qh6

Meanwhile, on board two IM John Donaldson found a nice positional pawn move with 18.e5!, forcing black to accept an isolated pawn, rather than take the pawn and allow white to quickly expand on the queenside, and gradually outplayed FM Todd Andrews.


 San Francisco decided to play the “youth card with young NM Sam Shankland getting a chance to play Board 3, and even younger (11 years old) Daniel Naroditsky, who were able to notch victories against Tennessee’s FM Jerry Wheeler and James Wu, respectively.

Decisive Games A Plenty – Seattle and Carolina fight to a tie

    The final match of the night featured a possible preview of a playoff match between the Carolina Cobras and Seattle Sluggers. The match did not disappoint in that all 4 games were decisive. Carolina missed a golden opportunity to defeat Seattle when IM Lev Milman squandered a pawn up, but deceptive position against the always tough GM Gregory Serper. Lev could have maintained the advantage with 18.Qe3, rather than allowing 18…Re8, Qd4+ and Re3, but this was difficult to see.


Carolina’s IM Jonathan Schroer returned the favor defeating FM Slava Mikhailuk with some nice tactical shots, especially 32…Ng5!

Position after 32...Ng5!

While I am not sure all the tactics worked out perfectly throughout, Jonathan gave his opponent lots to think about and won in style.


 The young and very talented NM Michael Lee put the screws to Carolina’s NM Craig Jones with an unstoppable bishop pair. With the score 2-1 in Seattle’s favor, Oleg Zaikov defeated the Benko Gambit once again (remember, Oleg is a Benko player, and won against a Benko in Week 2), this time with the solid 5.b6, defeating FM Loren Schmidt. Does this mean you don’t play the Benko against a Benko player?

    Week 6 action will all be played on Wednesday next week, and promises to feature some exciting matches. Most notably, Dallas will try to maintain their narrow division lead over Seattle (Seattle and Dallas face off in Week 7!) when they face off against the Philadelphia Inventors, while the Boston Blitz will face off against the always tough San Francisco Mechanics. The other match which promises some blood will be the desperate New York Knights against the Seattle Sluggers. Could we see GM Hikaru Nakamura face off against GM Gregory Serper? Tune in next week!

    Check out all the action, blogs, and predictions about the individual teams at www.uschessleague.com and watch the games live on the Internet Chess Club.

  FM Robby Adamson is the main chess.fm commentator for the U.S. Chess League. He is also the director of the Western Invitational Chess camp in Tucscon Arizona, where Robby is based.