US Chess League Week 5: Stripunsky Pushes the Endgame
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
October 8, 2012
USCLmainlogo.jpgIn the fifth week of the US Chess League, The Dallas Destiny continued their dominance in the Western Division, this time defeating the L.A. Vibe 3-1 and distancing themselves from the rest of the field. The two most dangerous teams in the east, New York and Connecticut, met for the first time and traded wins on boards three and four for a drawn match. The New Jersey Knockouts edged out the Manhattan Applesauce to leapfrog them in the standings and catch up to New York and Connecticut in the playoff hunt.

Match of the Week
New York Knights - Connecticut Dreadnoughts 2-2

I'm sure a lot of fans were looking forward to this match, since these two teams are two of the strongest teams in USCL history. In my opinion, it didn't disappoint. Although GM Kacheishvili - GM Hess on board one didn't see much action, GM Kekelidze - GM Charbonneau on board two was very tense, with the advantage switching back and forth a few times before finally simplifying out into a drawish endgame.


Endgame of the Week

GM Vladimir Romanenko (MAN) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (NJ) 0-1


There were a lot of really interesting endgames this week, but this one really stood out. To me it just serves as a great example of giving 100%. GM Stripunsky took a seemingly dead drawn queen endgame and ended up scoring the full point.

There are a couple of lessons to learn from this game:

1) Repeat the Position - When you are in the driver's seat, do not hurry, repeating the position not only gives you more time (if you're playing with increment), but also tires your opponent and gives them false hope that the game will soon be over. But when you continue pressing this can frustrate the opponent into making errors, which is exactly what happened in this game.

2) Activate the King - What ultimately won the game for Black was the decisive king march to the queenside, where White's queenside pawns were picked off and the newly created passed a-pawn pushed ahead.

3) Be Tenacious! - Many players don't realize how often games are won because work and intense effort. On the other hand, many worse positions are saved because the defender is tenacious, looks for every saving chance, and makes it as hard as possible for their opponent to win the game.

Move of the Week
IM Levan Bregadze (STL) vs FM Curt Collyer (SEA) 1-0


This move is not that hard to find, but I still think it's quite instructive and aesthetically pleasing. By giving up the e-pawn White starts a powerful attack on Black's weakened light squares. Believe it or not after 14 moves White's position is already completely won! This is one of those cases where despite the ugly doubled c-pawns, the real action is taking place on the kingside, which means Black's Na5 is simply out of play. 14...dxe5 (14...Qxe6 was another try, getting rid of the e6 pawn which ended up playing an important role in the game, but White can get a decisive advantage with 15.Bxh7+ Kh8 16.exd6 Qxd6 17.Rfe1 Rfe8 18.Rad1 Qc6 19.Bg6+- It is clear that White's pieces are far more active and Black's position is on the verge of collapse.) 15.Bxh7+ Kh8 16.Ng6+ Nxg6 17.Qxg6 Qe8 Forced, otherwise Qh5 and White wins (17...Qxe6? 18.Qh5 Rfe8 19.Bf5++-) 18.Qf5!

bregadze-collyer 2.jpg

With the deadly threat of Qh3, Black's defense is again forced: 18...g5 19.Bg6 Qe7 20.Rad1 A very natural move, bringing in another piece into the fray. Notice how White's e6 pawn is a contributing to the attack and is a major headache for Black. (A beautiful win was found by my computer: 20.f4! exf4 21.Bxf4 gxf4 (21...Rad8 22.Bxg5! fxg5 23.Qh3+ Kg8 24.Rf7+-) 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Rxf4+- Followed by either Rh4 or Rg4, with an irresistible attack.) 20...Bc6 21.Bf7

bregadze-collyer 3.jpg

Setting up a mating threat--Qg6-h6# (21.f4! Was again winning, but White's move is a more humane way to win the game) 21...Be8? A blunder, it was necessary to give up the exchange, although the game wouldn't have been prolonged by much. (The only way to continue resistance was through 21...Rxf7 22.exf7 Kg7 (22...Qxf7 23.Bxg5) 23.h4+- White is up material and is breaking through) 22.Bxe8 and Black resigned in view of 23.Rd7 1-0

Game of the Week

1st Place: GM Vladimir Romanenko (MAN) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (NJ) 0-1


The judges loved the fighting spirit displayed by GM Stripunsky, and he was awarded a well deserved first place finish.

2nd Place: IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) vs GM Conrad Holt (DAL) 0-1

An unorthodox IQP position was reached, where GM Holt showed some good defensive skill to come out on top.

3rd Place: FM Alec Getz (DAL) vs WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (LA) 1-0


Unlike the first two games, this was a wild tactical melee, ending with a brutal mating attack starting with 28.Ba4+.

Catch all the week five action live on ICC and starting Tuesday (due to Columbus Day) and continuing on Wednesday as usual. Find details on schedule, line-ups and more

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