Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2007 arrow September arrow USCL Week 3 Recap
USCL Week 3 Recap Print E-mail
By Robby Adamson   
September 13, 2007
USCLmainlogo.jpg by Robby Adamson

In week three of the U.S. Chess League (August 29-November 28), the Boston Blitz emerged with the lone perfect score by crushing the Philadelphia Inventors 3.5-0.5. Meanwhile, the Dallas Destiny won against the Queens Pioneers to head up the Western division with 2.5/3.

Week Three Results

1. San Francisco Mechanics vs New York Knights TIE 2-2
2. Philadelphia Inventors vs Boston Blitz Boston 3.5-0.5
3. Baltimore Kingfishers vs New Jersey Knockouts TIE 2-2
4. Miami Sharks vs Carolina Cobras Carolina 2.5-1.5
5. Queens Pioneers vs Dallas Destiny Dallas 3-1
6. Seattle Sluggers vs Tennessee Tempo Seattle 3.5-0.5

Hikaru's Dubious Debut

The Monday night match featured division-leader San Francisco Mechanics and the winless but formidably stacked New York Knights.

GM-elect Vinay Bhat, who won his 3rd GM norm this summer in Spain knocked heads with GM Hikaru Nakamura.


Nakamura responded to Bhat’s somewhat surprising first move - 1.d4 (Vinay usually plays 1.e4) with 3…b5, a variation similar to the Benko Gambit, except white has not played c4, and achieved an advantage. Hikaru used almost none of his time the entire game, seemingly blitzing his way to an apparent victory. By move 30, Hikaru still had over 70 minutes left, while Vinay Bhat was using the 30 second increment to bounce just under and over one minute.

In the process of pressing for a win in an endgame that looked quite difficult to win, Bhat timely broke with 48. g4!, which caused Nakamura to later blunder with 57…Qf4+. Nakamura probably could have still drawn (though he had draws earlier) with 57…Ke8 with the idea of …Bd4+. Nakamura more than likely misassessed the ending as a draw. Bhat deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there against a top Grandmaster and understanding the critical nature of the position. This is one of two candidates for Game of the Week (and really a stronger candidate had Hikaru won a game where he completely outplayed Bhat).

Board 2 featured a solid win by IM Irina Krush over IM Vince McCambridge’s English Defense, which Irina won by mating Vince’s king in the middle of the board. Irina’s logical play and development of an attack on the kingside was quite effective. IM Jay Bonin from New York defeated fellow IM David Pruess on board 3 from a seemingly equal position. Finally, twelve-year old Gregory Young from the San Francisco Mechanics overcame a slight disadvantage on the black side of an Accelerated Dragon to defeat Matthew Herman. Because of Bhat’s win, San Francisco was able to tie the match with New York 2-2.

Wednesday night action

Wednesday brought the usual slate of 5 matches, starting with a matchup of the only two perfect 2-0 teams, the Boston Blitz and the Philadelphia Masterminds. Boston easily defeated Philadelphia 3.5-.5. With only GM Sergey Kudrin able to draw with GM Eugene Perelstheyn, Boston was able to win on boards 2-4. Jorge Sammour-Hasbun fought off a fierce attack from IM Bryan Smith, while Denys Shmelov topped Daniel Yeager and Chris Williams easily defeated the USCL-tough Elvin Wilson.


GM Joel Benjamin, leader of the New Jersey Knockouts, was unable to win a pawn-up but drawn rook ending against the Baltimore Kingfisher’s top board, GM Pavel Blehm, who was playing his first game of this year. Just when it looked like Baltimore would notch their second match win of the season after WGM Katerina Rohonyan defeated NM Victor Shen, and John Rouleau drew with New York’s 4th board Todd Lunna, the New Jersey Knockouts miraculously saved the match with Ippolito’s swindle of FM Enkhbat.


In the third match of the night, the Carolina Cobras narrowly defeated the Miami Sharks 2.5-1.5. The deciding games of the match was IM Jonathan Schroer’s exciting game against IM Blas Lugo and FM Oleg Zaikov’s defeat of IM Marcel Martinez.

Schroer defeated Lugo in a topical Botvinnik Semi-Slav, the other candidate for game of the week!


Oleg was able to grab Martinez’s sacrifice of his c-pawn and eventually win a seemingly difficult endgame.


In one of stranger matches in USCL, the Dallas Destiny defeated the expansion team Queen Pioneers 3-1, but not without some adventure. After IM Drasko Boskovic upset Alexander Stripunsky, and boards 2 and 3 were drawn, the Queen Pioneers seemed poised to draw the match. However, in the US Chess League, no position is completely safe. Michael Thaler played way too recklessly in the ending allowing Dallas’s WFM Bayarraa’s Zorigt to complicate the rook ending by activating her rook, and cheapoing Thaler in time pressure to preserve the match win.



In the final match of the night, Seattle continued their winning ways defeating the Tennessee Tempo 3.5-.5. Even though the result of the match was never in doubt, Board 1 featured an interesting match between Seattle’s IM Eric Tangborn, who defeated IM Marcel Martinez last week in an interesting game, and Tennessee Tempo’s IM Ron Burnett. In what appeared to be a dry middle game, the game heated up with some interesting tactics in the ending. Seattle continues to impress in the USCL.


Week four promises more excitement with Monday’s match between the New York Knights and the Boston Blitz. Could we see a match between Hikaru Nakamura against GM Larry Christiansen or GM Eugene Perelshteyn? Check out all the action and lots of numerous articles about the individual teams at U.S. Chess League. 

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