Miami and New York Advance
By Jennifer Shahade   
November 8, 2007
Marcel Martinez of the Miami Sharks won a crucial game against Zilberstein.
In the Wildcard round of the U.S. Chess League, Philly faced New York while Miami played last year's champs, the San Francisco Mechanics. New York and Miami both prevailed, despite being up against draw odds! Due to superior regular season records, Philadelphia and San Francisco would both advance to the playoffs with a 2-2 score.

Wildcard Round, November 7, 2007.

Philadelphia Masterminds- New York Knights- .5-3.5

Miami Sharks- San Francisco Mechanics -2.5-1.5

Playoff Schedule:

Next round Miami will play against Dallas in the playoffs, while New York faces Boston. Due to the SPICE Cup in Lubbock, Texas (November 9-16), the Dallas-Miami game will be delayed.

SemiFinals - Wednesday November 14th

1. Boston vs New York  (Boston receives draw odds)

Monday November 19th

1. Dallas vs Miami    (Dallas receives draw odds)

New York Sprits High

Irina Krush was thrilled with the results and the spirit of the New York Knights. She was particularly impressed by the performance of Iryna Zenyuk, who was the first one to win in the match against Philadelphia, against Elvin Wilson. She sacrificed a pawn in the opening, and managed to prove that her d-pawn was worth much more than two pawns!


As excited as she was and as proud as she was of her team, Irina Krush was hard on her own play, even though she won. "The  rook endgame should never have seen the light of day," she said, explaining that even though it was still probably a win for White, it was way more complicated than the dominated position she had on move 40 merited. Instead of 41. Re5, Irina could have played 41. Bc6 when all of white's pins and attacks are impossible to defend against.


Jay Bonin came to each match with his shield and sword, and he also "really cares about the team and stepped it up in the last couple matches," according to Krush. Here is his win against Rick Costigan:


Hikaru Nakamura and Sergei Kudrin drew on board one, but Irina pointed out that it was a hard-fought battle. "It helped the team to see Hikaru fight in this position."

The New York Knights Left to Right: Hikaru Nakamura, Jay Bonin, Irina Krush and Iryna Zenyuk.

Miami Scorches San Francisco

In a surprising start to the Miami-San Francisco match, Patrick Wolff and Julio Becerra, who is the USCL MVP for the second year in a row took a draw, despite the fact that Miami needed to win the match 2.5-1.5. The reason for this draw probably resides on board three, in which Marcel Martinez played 28 moves of home preparation, including the stunning Bh6! Most likely, Becerra took the draw because he had prepared the line with Marcel, and was confident that Marcel would win the game after seeing the preparation appear on the board.


Boards two and four saw some major swings. Bhat was in great shape in a better endgame against Blas Lugo , but probably thought he needed to win because Young's position looked bad on board four. However, Young turned things around in time pressure, starting with 33.Rac1. After 36.Rc6, he was totally winning.


Unfortunately for the defending champs, before he could realize Young was winning, Bhat had also turned things around, in Miami's favor. The match ended 2.5-1.5 for the Sharks.


Now USCL fans anxiously await to see who will be crowned the new champion. Since the champs from 2005 and 2006, Baltimore and San Francisco are eliminated, we can be sure we'll see a new championship team. Will it be Miami, New York, Dallas or Boston? Check for daily updates, and for future coverage by Robby Adamson and Jennifer Shahade.