Playoffs?! Don’t talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs?! I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game!”
Jim Mora seemed to be talking about the Arizona Scorpions this week. Luckily for them, much attention was diverted to Julio Becerra’s 12 move miniature over US Champ Hikaru Nakamura. However, there was a quarterfinal match between the San Francisco Mechanics and Arizona Scorpions going on too. To be realistic, AZ got demolished, though the beginning of some games must have affected how players proceeded in their games. Robby was forced to play risky for team purposes, while Leo turned down a repitition for team purposes. GM Handi played to a pretty solid draw (he did look a bit better after the opening). Danny Rensch achieved a lost position early on, fought back, and eventually through away a win. Robby received a better position with superior minor piece development, but FM Naroditsky capitalized on the opportunity. Leo Martinez looked solid, even better, before Liou stole a pawn and then the game. Let’s take a closer peak at the action…
Board 1: GM Handi vs. GM Wolff http://www.uschessleague.com/games/aramirezwolff09.htm
Wolff seemed well prepared, quickly rattling off the opening. Handi had a nice space and two bishops advantage. After Handi overstepped with 17. d5, Wolff temporarily won a pawn (albeit a doubled one) and remained about equal the rest of the way. 17. Rc1 was a certain improvement for white, with a better game. As it was, Wolff played well and easily secured a draw with the black pieces against a strong GM in Ramirez.
Board 2: GM Bhat vs. IM-Elect Rensch http://www.uschessleague.com/games/bhatrensch09.htm
It is quite common for a player to have a bad game soon after receiving a title. Danny Rensch proved to be no exception. It is hard to imagine any bigger of a disaster than what happened during this game. The game began as a rather typical Queen’s Indian. While I am not too familiar with this opening, I am fairly certain 8…c6 is the norm, whereas white sacrifices a pawn for a superior position. Great fighting chances, really. 14…Bg5 is the real culprit, as before this white was better, but still a long fight ahead. Trading the dark squared bishops did black absolutely no favors. 18. Qc3 was another winning move, as after Re7 19. Qxe5 Rxe5 20. f4 Re7 21. Nd6 Bc8 22. e4 +-
However, Rensch continued to fight in the game, and eventually even achieved a won game. Some lines I have thought over (if anyone is using a computer, feel free to correct my analysis)..
47. g5 Kd4 48. Bg2 c3+ 49. bxc3bxc3+ 50. Kd1Ke5 51. Bf1d2 52. Bg2 +-
*After 47. b3, fans claimed Kd4 is winning for black – here is what I believe draws (again, anyone with computer analysis, feel free to ..
47. b3 Kd4 48. bxc4???? b3 0-1
BUT 48. Bg2! c3+ 49. Kd1 f3 50. Bf1 d2 51. g5 Ke5 52. h5 Kf5 53. g6! hxg6 54. Bd3+ Kf6 55. hxg6 =
After playing 47…cxb3, simply..
Board 3: FM Adamson vs. FM Danya http://www.uschessleague.com/games/adamsonnaroditsky09.htm
Robby came out strong, had a nice development advantage after Danya played some strange Sicilian I haven’t really seen, but missed some chances. Perhaps 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Bh5 was better. White remained better most of the game, Danya should have played …g5 at some point, and after white played Bxc5 the game was pretty much over. Robby, you are still the man. Danya, well played.
Board 4: NM Liou vs. NM Martinez http://www.uschessleague.com/games/lioulmartinez09.htm
There really is not too much to say about this game. Martinez played quite well as black, holding equality for the most part. I respect Martinez’s decision to turn down a repetition to try to help his team out. Liou, proving his all-star value, won a pawn with 38. f5. The rest was technical, but this really should have been a draw. A bit boring for my taste, as pieces were traded quite quickly, but solidly played..
So Arizona’s season is over. But do not be too disappointed, it was a strong showing by the Scorpions. Instead of worrying about the upcoming lineup, Arizonians can watch their beloved 17th ranked Wildcats in the BCS or NFC West leading Cardinals win, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Really, though, the Arizona Scorpions did impress me, especially on boards 1 and 4, with Ramirez and Adelberg having pretty great seasons. For next season, expect Adelberg to move up a board as his rating will most likely increase with age. The usual suspects will be hungrier than ever next year, as they must certainly feel that their season was cut too short. Good bye for now. See you next USCL season!