The 2012 USCL season is upon us!
Here are the players.
GM Rogelio Barcenilla
IM Mackenzie Molner
IM Levon Altounian
IM Mark Ginsburg
IM Shahin Mohandesi
FM Robby Adamson
FM Pedram Atoufi
NM Dipro Chakraborty
NM Amanda Mateer
The 2012 USCL season is upon us!
Here are the players.
GM Rogelio Barcenilla
IM Mackenzie Molner
IM Levon Altounian
IM Mark Ginsburg
IM Shahin Mohandesi
FM Robby Adamson
FM Pedram Atoufi
NM Dipro Chakraborty
NM Amanda Mateer
Hello Everyone !
Back to the US Chess League but this time as a spectator! The only two seasons the Scorpions have played in the league I have been both manager and player but due to graduate school I have been forced to hand my title over. (EJ: I get your NM title too! Sweet!) Now I am confined to watching the games from my 200 square foot apartment in New Orleans! Despite my move I can’t miss any games in the league so I will be predicting the results of the Arizona matches for hopefully the whole season.
The addition of the LA Vibe and the St. Louis Archbishops and the farewell of Tennessee really shakes things up in our division and makes things a lot more challenging. LA seems like a solid team for sure and St. Louis will be really top heavy so I don’t know if both teams will make it to the playoffs but I would guess at least one of them does. I’ve always thought the Western division was stronger than the Eastern but now I think it’s true even more than before. We’ll see. It should be a fun season!
Anyways, on to the match. Arizona has a really solid team this year and although we have lost GM Alejandro we should be able to fight it out in every match. Miami has been a tough team for us to beat and is never really weak on any board. And nothing changes for this season.
All the Arizona players are on the right hand side and all the Miami players are on the left.
|GM Julio Becerra: 2628||vs.||IM Rogelio Barcenilla: 2583|
These two players played against each other with opposite colors two years ago and this should be a tough match-up. Both players play pretty predictably and will probably play a Ruy Lopez. Both players are experienced in the league and obviously Becerra has a long record of good seasons. However, Rogelio is known for being very solid and can easily turn the tables if Becerra decides he needs to push hard. I’m going to predict a draw here.
|IM Blas Lugo: 2384||vs.||IM Dionisio Aldama: 2399|
This should be a very interesting match-up! Both players are very wild and not only are not afraid of complications but really go after them. These two players also know each other pretty well. This is only the third game Dionisio has played, having a fairly good but short year last season with 1.5/2 games beating IM Felecan of Chicago and drawing IM Donaldson of San Francisco with Black. Dionisio will have White this game and I’m going to predict that he pulls this one out. If there is one game I would not miss it would be this game. Bring your popcorn and look for fireworks!
|NM Eric Rodriguez: 2382||vs.||IM Daniel Rensch: 2471|
Two more interesting and dynamic players on board 3. Danny rebounded from his horrible first season to have a solid year last season. However, from talking to him he is ready to show his true colors. Having a near 2500 IM on board 3 is always a nice feeling to have. I’m not sure but I think this is a rematch of a US Open game in Phoenix a while back. I think Danny won that one in 6 hours. That was a different time though for both players.
Eric has had a lot of experience in the league and overall has a great record. That, with the addition of being White, should make this an interesting match-up. I’m going to go with the rating advantage here and pick Danny.
|FM Charles Galofre: 2316||vs.||John Gurczak: 2139|
Man when you look at FM Charles Galofre on board 4 you got to be a little impressed. He is a very strong board 4 and actually played pretty well for Miami on Board 3 (!) two seasons ago. He is playing against one of our newcomers to the team in John Gurczak. John has wanted to be on the team since we started the league two years ago and now he gets a chance. One thing going for him in this game is that he is White. Hopefully he can use some of this excitement and win this one out but I am going to predict a Galofre win here.
So overall a very tight match-up. I am predicting a 2.5-1.5 victory for my Scorpions! Stay tune on Wednesday at 9:00 PM ET, 6:00 PM Arizona time. It should be a good one!
The 2010 USCL season is about to begin! Week 1 lineups have been announced for both Monday and Wednesday matches.
The Arizona Scorpions will face off against the Miami Sharks on Wednesday night. The team will play at Abstrax in Mesa. All games will be played on the Internet Chess Club (ICC) starting at 6:00 local time (9:00 Eastern Time).
GM Julio Becerra (2628)
IM Blas Lugo (2384)
NM Eric Rodriguez (2382)
FM Charles Galofre (2316)
GM-e Rogelio Barcenilla (2583)
IM Dionisio Aldama (2399)
IM Danny Rensch (2471)
John Gurczak (2139)
Arizona will have the black pieces on boards 1 and 3. We will have the white pieces on boards 2 and 4. All games will be Game in 60 minutes with a 30 second increment per move.
Fans across the country have started weighing in on their predictions for the new season.
Wear your red and come out to support your Arizona Scorpions!!
The 2010 United States Chess League is almost upon us. The teams (including 3 new ones) are gathering for another great season of Internet chess. Just as the league is making some changes, so are the Arizona Scorpions.
The 2010 Scorpions were announced today. Here is the official roster. The ratings in parenthesis are the official league ratings based on the September 2009 USCF supplement. Current USCF ratings are different.
IM Rogelio Barcenilla (2583)
IM Levon Altounian (2536)
IM Dionisio Aldama (2489)
IM Danny Rensch (2432)
FM Warren Harper (2357)
FM Robby Adamson (2346)
NM David Adelberg (2196)
NM Nick Thompson (2098)
Expert John Gurczak (2098)
Expert Amanda Mateer (1993)
One other change to announce. Leo Martinez has stepped down as manager of the Scorpions. Sources close to the organization, who wish to remain anonymous, say that “wanting to spend more time with his family, to work on his studies, and to focus on his health” were major factors in his decision. There were some rumors last season that Leo’s wild, partying nightlife and many female fans were a distraction to the team during their playoff run. When asked if “Leo’s Legion of Ladies” was the cause for the early playoff exit, Scorpion veteran Robby Adamson replied, “Everyone loves Leo. Women want to be with him, men want to be him. But that doesn’t matter now. The 2010 team is only focused on the 2010 season.” EJ will take over as manager of the team.
The first match of the year will be on Wednesday, August 25 at 6:00 PM (local time) against the Miami Sharks. A line-up and location will be announced prior to the match. Once again, the Scorpions will play matches in either Mesa (Abstrax) or Tucson (University of Arizona). All matches are viewable on the Internet Chess Club (ICC).
We look forward to another great season!
GM Robert Hess, a fan of the Arizona Scorpions, once again chimes in with his thoughts about the Arizona Scorpions victory over the Chicago Blaze. The AZ Scorpions thank Robert for his contribution.
ARIZONA WINS!! What a weekend it has been for Arizona teams. The Wildcats of Arizona and the Sun Devils of Arizona State each provided wins on Saturday to begin the ‘Zona rampage. The Cardinals, defending NFC champions, humiliated the Seahawks 27-3 (Thank you Warner and Fitzgerald for being on my fantasy team – no thank you Cardinal stingy defense, I also have Hasselbeck!) on Sunday to move to a tie atop the division. Best for last, your Arizona Scorpions, barring a complete meltdown, may have assured themselves a playoff berth with their third straight match win. This week it was a 2.5-1.5 victory over the Chicago Blaze. To the games we go!
Angelo Young has yet to lose a game in the USCL. His record is phenomenal, especially considering he is often considerably out-rated. Daniel Rensch, Arizona’s third board, has a significant rating advantage over Young. However, Young maintained steady dominance over his GM-elect opponent. Barcenilla seemed to be playing from a worse position for most of the game. Instead of playing an early cxd4, he allowed Angelo to obtain a large space advantage. After sacrificing an exchange, the game should have been easily over. However, black missed an opportunity with 37… Qc5+, which does give black some good fighting chances. Additionally, the only way for black to keep on breathing after 38. Qb7 was Qxb7 39. axb7 Rb8 with chances to make a draw. However, after Rogelio missed these two finds, Young made quick work of his opponent. 1-0
Aldama played for the second straight week and again proved productive. Felecan, the ever dangerous player (he did have a great victory over Yury Shulman earlier this year), seemed to obtain a strong Sicilian position. Aldama played smooth, forward chess, not succumbing to passivity. Even after Felecan stole a pawn, Dionisio still pressed on for the win. Unlike typical Felecan games, there were not all too many tactics involved. Rather, white achieved the initiative and kept on rolling.
18. f5 was also a possibility for white, as g5 is responded to by 19. Bf2 (targeting a nice cushion on b6).
Black could have played 35… Rd6 36. Qb3 (36. Bb4?? Rdxc6!) a2! 37. Qb7 Qxb7 38. cxb7 Rb8!! 39. Rc8+ Kh7 40. Rxb8 Rxd5 41. Rd8 Rxa5 42. B8=Q A1= Q 43. Qb3 Qa2 about = to my eyes.
However, this is tough to find over the board, and I found this based on 15 minutes pure calculation. Maybe a computer engine will prove me wrong, but to my human eye, seems like black’s best try. 1-0
This was arguably the most crucial board of the match. On paper, at least, this was the best match-up, pitting two recently minted IMs against one another. Rensch is known to have a rough time in the league, with his performance rating just two above his birth year (1987 performance, 1985 birth). That being said, he is undoubtedly much better than that, proven with his last IM norm at the Spice Cup B section. Pasalic, on the other hand, has proven his strength in the league, performing 2492 last year with 4/6. Now moving to the game…
Rensch came out like a man with something to prove. He chose a very active opening, and certainly achieved a rather nice position. After 15 moves, black was already better. Rensch had the two bishop advantage and probably should have put his dark-squared bishop on the g1-a7 diagonal. However, after trading on c4, the position remained equal until f5 was played. White immediately had a better position, as it weakened the dark squares. After everything was traded on e5, Pasalic attempted to consolidate his pawn advantage. His best try was to go 47. Kg2 but regardless it looks rather drawish. Interesting game here. ½-½
This was a matchup between two players on the rise. Both have become much stronger as of late. But nobody should be surprised to see Adelberg win this match for his team. The kid has been on fire for the Scorpions, playing quite well in most of his games (disregarding the hiccup vs. Gregory Young). After 19. Bd2, perhaps just retreating Qc7 was best. After Qh5, though, it seems that black is just losing. Yes, perhaps the queen can escape with a move like g5!? After Nh4, but this just looks too weakening. Ng4 was immediately losing, and Adelberg played a very solid game and easily took home the point. 1-0
Overall, a rather strong showing by the Scorpions. All boards were hard fought, and with the exception of the upset on board 1, proved to play in Arizona’s favor. Angelo Young did a fantastic job taking down Barcenilla on board 1, ‘Zona took control with the white pieces, and Rensch held down Pasalic. 3 wins a row, steamrollin’ their way into the playoffs: yourrrrrrrr 2009 Arizonaaaaaaaa Scorpionssssss (dramatic effect like at an NBA game)
The next match-up pits the Arizona Scorpions against the Chicago Blaze in Week 8. As the Arizona Manager I will try to give you a recap of how things have gone this year and telling you about this tough match-up as well.
The Scorpions are in a great spot in the playoff race in the West being in 2nd place on tiebreaks over San Francisco and Miami. With a record of 4.0-3.0 the Scorpions are a point and half ahead of Chicago who need to win this game in order to have chances to get in the playoffs. The Scorpions need this win if they want to secure their first playoff berth and to put themselves in a good seeding if they do get to the playoffs.
|WESTERN DIVISION||W||L||Game Points
||Opps Avg Rating||Opps Record|
|@ – Seattle||6.0||1.0||17.0/28 (61%)||2410||21.0-21.0 (50%)|
|Arizona||4.0||3.0||16.0/28 (57%)||2403||23.0-19.0 (53%)|
|San Francisco||4.0||3.0||15.0/28 (54%)||2416||23.0-17.0 (58%)|
|Miami||4.0||3.0||15.0/28 (54%)||2404||17.5-22.5 (44%)|
|Dallas||2.5||4.5||12.5/28 (45%)||2419||22.5-19.5 (54%)|
|Chicago||2.5||4.5||11.5/28 (41%)||2414||20.0-20.0 (50%)|
|Tennessee||2.0||5.0||12.5/28 (45%)||2402||17.0-23.0 (43%)|
We have played the Blaze once before this year in Week 1 beating them 3.5-0.5 with wins by Alejandro Ramirez, Robby Adamson, and David Adelberg. However this week is completely different as only one player playing this week was playing for the Scorpions in Week 1. Although much has been said on the Chicago blog about how the Scorpions have dominated the Blaze in the past this gives no indication of how close this match is. Although Arizona has a rating advantage Chicago has always been a very solid team that contests every board from 1-4. Much like us Chicago doesn’t usually stack their lineups up top or on the bottom boards. On top of this Chicago has just come off a big win against the Tennessee Tempo, fighting against not one but two GM’s (Ehlvest and Shabalov) with wins by Van de Mortel and Angelo Young.
On to the match!
IM Jaan Van de Mortel 2456 vs GM Rogelio Barcenilla 2583
Both of these players are coming off big wins in their last matches, both against Grandmasters. Also both of these wins allowed their teams to win their matches by 2.5-1.5. Jaan beat one of the top Grandmasters in the country and former top ten player in the world in Jaan Ehlvest in a very nice game. GM Rogelio Barcenilla just came off an extremely wild game beating GM Vinay Bhat. I remember thinking around move 15 how Rogelio could have gotten into such a horrible position so early with White. However, one of the most important characteristics of a chess player is resiliency and Rogelio definitely has some of that. He ended this game by barely winning Queen against Rook ending giving me and everyone else at the site a near heart attack! After coming off a rough start this season with losses to Nakamura and Bercys, Rogelio has more than made up for this with very strong wins against IM Ippolito and GM Bhat, in both cases leading to Scorpion wins.
In the past Jaan has had trouble against the Scorpions losing to IM Levon Altounian and IM Mark Ginsburg last season, both times with Black. He no doubt will be ready to rumble to change that with White on Monday night.
IM Dionisio Aldama 2506 vs IM Florin Felecan 2430
This will be the second game that Dionisio will play in his USCL career with a draw against IM John Donaldson last week. His uncompromising style should make for an interesting game as Felecan plays similarly. If there is one game to watch in this match I would focus on this game as two wild players equal a wild game I’m predicting! Dionisio is one of those players that I cannot guess any of his moves but somehow he ends up making it work in the end which is all that matters.
IM Mehmed Pasalic 2346 vs IM Danny Rensch 2434
IM(!) Danny Rensch comes back to play after his first win in the USCL last week against Daniel Naroditsky. Danny seems to be breaking barriers everywhere lately having just broken through to the IM title as well. Danny’s solid record this year in the league, although not absolutely groundbreaking, is definitely one of the reasons we have done so well this year. Danny has the ability to beat anyone on board 2 or 3 when playing well and I hope he can continue his winning streak this week against Pasalic. Pasalic lost to FM Robby Adamson in Week 1 and is no doubt looking for some vengeance in this game against a fellow Scorpion.
NM David Adelberg 2202 vs NM Eric Rosen. 2237
After David’s loss last week all I saw was him very disappointed. However, after this he was hopeful and then happy again when our team pulled the win out anyways. He played very well against Greg Young playing into a winning position before losing in the endgame. Of course this kind of stuff happens to everyone and is typical in such important games. However, David has no doubt been one of the bright spots to our team this year. I knew David was good and had all the potential in the world when I put him on the team but I had no idea how much he had improved. I played David once when he was around 1900 a couple of years ago. I had heard his name floating around the Arizona chess community a couple times but I didn’t really know him and to be honest I didn’t take him super seriously. I just thought he was like all 1900s. After barely winning a 6 hour game that ended around 12:00 am I was pretty shocked. I kept thinking after the game while analyzing the game with him that “this kid is gonna be good.” Well I don’t think David is done improving but he has already proven me right. With wins against Magness and Zorigt and a solid +1 record he has done very well in his USCL season debut. He also has just last weekend broken to become over 2200 USCF and a “Master” at only 12 years old. He is no doubt a player to watch in the future….starting with tomorrow at 6:00pm! You can check out all the games at 6:00 PM AZ time on ICC or at Abstrax in Mesa, Arizona. Come check us out!
Levon Altounian is a stong IM based in Tucson, Arizona. He is the head of the Arizona Chess for Schools which you can find out more by clicking here.
ARIZONA SCORPIONS VS Seattle Sluggers ( Week 7 )
Great match and a very tough victory by the Arizona team that propelled us to a 2nd place tie in the division! I feel relieved.
San Francisco is always a tough match for us having usually employed at least 1 GM (even though some of the line ups may include even 3 GMs). Here is what I approximately thought may happen. It was a pure guess based on only either knowing our players, their preferences, in some cases their opponents.
Board 1. I was not sure what Rogelio will play this time. Last time against Bhat he played an Exhange Rui Lopez. Got a weird game, lost a piece, instead of resigning played on and …. Drew!
Board 2. I had a feeling John will play the solid type of some nf3-c4 system and it was up to Aldama to decide which way to react. I was 99% sure it will be either Kings Indian, symmetrical or some Bogo_Indian version.
Board 3. With Danny I really had no real feeling. It could be his 1d4 2 Bg5, could be Torre attack or could be main line Sicilians.
Board 4. I had no time to check what Dallas player plays as White but I was sure whatever it will be, David will play his usual stuff he knows best.
This match was a bit of a tribute to tactical creativity of all players and the slight edge Arizonans have playing ICC type chess ( SF people might disagree though)
Board 1: BARCENILLA-BHAT
General Styles: Barcenilla- More active chess, Bhat- more “normal” chess
Theoretical Importance: 8
The Scotch Opening choice took me by complete surprise! I had looked at playing it myself and somehow was sure Bhat would play exactly what he played again Rogelio. I watched games of Kasparov in similar lines and I was astounded how I would always guess maybe only 10% of all his moves.I knew I would not like those positions as White so didn’t even try. Now, watching the game unfold exactly how I assumed it would unfold had it been my game, I had the pleasure of watching it all from a safe distance. If Barcenilla finds something (or had prepared something ) against the lesser known 8…Nb6 (favorite of many Russian 2700 players), then he knew something I didn’t know. If he got into trouble, then it would prove my feeling that the line of Scotch in the game is too weird for normal chess players to comprehend in a complete way. I didn’t like the 11 a4 and it seemed black got more than a good game. However, complications started, time pressure slowly crept in and I think Black somewhere missed a win. Having not found a win, Black chose to trade all off into a draw, but instead found himself in a slightly worse endgame. I was still sure it will end in a draw until White pawn got to the 7th rank. Then Bhat panicked. White had a much easier win (58 Bd7!) but chose a safe way out and by force got an Queen vs Rook ending. At that point Mark Ginsburg was touting how easy it is to win it for white but forgot a “tiny”detail: few months back, he himself didn’t win it against an IM at the Copper State 09.We were sure however, Rogelio will win easily as the rook was separated from the King. To my surprise the game kept going. All ended well though, as he found a way to win the rook without reaching the dreaded 50 move rule. Very good Blitz save and win by Barcenilla but his opening choices as White sometimes scare me!
Board 2: IM Donaldson-IM Aldama
General Styles: Donaldson- Super solid openings as White, Aldama- much less theory while compensating it by sharp tactics.
Theoretical Importance: 8
Opening: Kings Indian
As I mentioned, I was expecting Kings Indian in this game. However, John played a very interesting new move ( at least for me )-9 b3!!. It seems Black should have some Nf6 forced removal and Ra1 capture ( like N:d5 or Ne4 ) but the simple fact White played it and Black did nothing about it, convinced me in about 2 seconds there has to be nothing for Black. Aldama never misses such chances and John never blunders those. If that is the case, then the small advantage White obtained by switching to English structure from that line of KID should make all future attempts by Black to play this line a very unpleasant experience. However, White didn’t seem to be inclined to really push for a win, being happy to keep the slight edge.He probably had a win at the end but chickened out and repeated the position. Good Defense in a very unpleasant position by Aldama.
Board 3: FM Rensch-FM Naroditsky
General Styles: Rensch- very aggressive. Naroditsky- also very aggressive.
Theoretical Importance: 9
Opening: Bg5 Veresov.
From where I stood, the opening choice was hilarious. Danny plays as White a line that a 2100 Geary used against himself to obtain a winning game…. 5 moves or so later, using the most illogical looking move:6 a3!!??. Naroditsky played the in most logical way and I thought obtained a slight edge if had squeezed in some a7-a5 break. But the game became much more normal after both sides developed. What happens when 2 tactical guys get a boring position? Hint: no draw. As a result – White gets a totally losing position and then wins in a magical way! Mark was right again- Statistical Rensch proved milestones do happen. It was statistically impossible for him not to win a game. His first win for the Scorpion team and definitely not last!
Board 4: Young-Adelberg
General Styles: Young-active, Adelberg- more normal but still aggressive.
Theoretical Importance: 8
Opening: Sicilian Kan.
I was amazed as to why would David play Kan! The only reason could be to transpose to the English System lines ( Be3-0-0-0-g4 push ) ideas but keep the Bf8 open to jump to b4. I had seen many games of that sort from the Taimanov system ( Nc6 for Black- helping Master Vaishnav Aradhyula prepare for matches) and Najdorf ( d6 for Black) but I knew in Kan that system doesn’t work for White. But he has plenty of options ( just ask Leo to share his worn out Kan book!) So the only reason to play a whole new line was to get White to play the English attack and prove it wrong against Kan? Far fetched, impossible, White is not crazy. Turned out that is exactly what White did! I am not sure if the choice of the system was prepared at home by David (or his coach) completely or just by some guessing method or not, but it ended up EXACTLY how he planned, which was great to see. White was down a piece few moves later. I love when people can prepare for opponents and get exactly what they want. Controlling the uncontrollable ( the opponent’s mind) is a great feeling. Unfortunately, from a complete winning game the game drifted to more unclear and finally in some magical way White won from being down a whole piece from move 12 to 58!. I can imagine how bad it felt for black but that is the chess life. Things can turn bad sometimes. Part of growing up in chess is getting stuff like this- we all go through it.
Overall, somewhere 1 hour into a game:,Board one was in trouble, Board 2 also definitely in some trouble, Board 3- definitely in trouble and Board 4- definitely winning. The word “ definite” apparently doesn’t apply to these guys because none of it turned the way it was supposed to- much to the pleasure of all of the Arizona players and observers as we won the match. I still need to check how many gray and white hair though this match brought to the members such as Robby and Leo collectively!
What a ridiculous, incredulous, and ludicrous (enough -ous’s?) back and forth encounter that I know I will never forget! I have followed the US Chess League since its inception and can honestly say I have never seen a crazier match than this week’s match between the San Francisco Mechanics and your beloved Arizona Scorpions. Fans of both teams and the USCL were treated to a back and forth affair that had the ICC kibitzers going nuts. This match easily could have finished 3.5-.5 in favor of the Arizona, or 3.5-.5 in favor of San Francisco. Click here for a preview of the match by Scorpion’s IM Mark Ginsburg. http://arizonascorpionchess.com/2009/10/week-7-match-preview/
Even though I am keenly aware that many matches come down to the last few minutes and the actual position often doesn’t mean a hill of beans, I am still amazed at what happens in these matches each week. Some players play well at the beginning of the match and lose the thread; some don’t wake up until they are in trouble; some don’t “get” playing online at all; some do better when they have a few seconds on their clock before they make a move and get the 30 second increment. I guess it is this uncertainty that makes the USCL so entertaining.
In the past three weeks, Arizona faced arguably one of the toughest three game schedules in USCL history (though in the USCL each week is so difficult). In Week 5, the Scorpions took on the two-time defending USCL Champions, the Dallas Destiny (tying them 2-2); in Week 6, Arizona defeated the previously undefeated New Jersey Knockouts; this week – week 7, AZ faced the San Francisco Mechanics, a team that seems to own the Western division and a team for which I have the ultimate respect. And for a bizarre yet funny non-chess video preview of the match click here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NsvwaowPHI Please don’t ask me what possessed Mark to even think of something so ridiculous.
Scorpion Players Awarded GM Title, IM Title, and NM Title!!
Before looking at the matches, I want to make special mention of some great accomplishments of some Scorpion players. First, congrats to now-GM Rogelio Barcenilla for being awarded the Grandmaster title at the FIDE Congress being held as we speak. Also kudos to now-IM Danny Rensch who was awarded the IM title at the latest Congress. Finally, congratulations to National Master David Adelberg, who achieved the master title at the just completed 2009 Los Angeles Open. Congrats to Rogelio, Danny and David! And wouldn’t you know it, but all three were in action this week.
The games are covered in the order they finished to get a sense of what was going through each player’s mind.
Wow, I am still freaking out a day later. The Arizona Scorpions and the SF Mechanics played a titantic match on 10/14/09 that will go down in USCL annals as one of the most topsy-turvy matches ever.
I was really pleased to see David Adelberg play the Kan on board 4 for Arizona, consistent with my match preview! Although he got fatigued and eventually lost his way, I am very happy with how well the fearsome Kan did in the opening.
Here is Board 2’s madness.
IM John Donaldson (SF) – IM Dionisio Aldama (ARZ)
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.d4 Nc6 7.Nc3 a6 8.d5 Na5 9.b3 c5 10.dxc6 Nxc6 11.Bb2 Bd7 12.Qc1 Rc8 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.cxd5 Ne5 16.Qb2 f6 17.Nd4 Qb6 18.Qd2 a5 19.f4 Kg8 20.e3 Nf7 21.Rac1 Rc5?
21…Nh6! and black is fine.
22.Ne6! Rxc1 23.Rxc1 Rc8 24.Rxc8+ Bxc8 25.Qd4 Qxd4 26.Nxd4 Bd7 26…Nh6! to hold white to a small edge.
27.Kf2 Kf8 28.Ke2 Ke8 29.Kd3
Black has an awful position. His next few moves make it worse.
29…Kd8 30.Ne6+ Kc8 31.Nf8! This should have been the winning move. Robby Adamson and I were not sanguine about black’s chances. GM Ramirez also wondered what the hell black was doing. We were like hens in a henhouse virtually running around in our little cyber barn.
Snap on h7?
32.Ne6+? What’s this? There is no way John is going to repeat, I told myself (and others) – he’s just gaining time on the clock. But then:
32…Kc8 33.Nf8 Kd8 34.Ne6+? Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2
Go back to the diagrammed position. You have very good tactical and positional endgame insight if you can spot the lines which gives white a big plus, which I have posted in the comments. The solutions (multiple!) are instructive.
Take on h7? Take on d7? A king move? Very tempting possibilities, and hard to work out in the USCL time limit! Scroll down to find the answer but don’t cheat!
The other matchups were equally nuts and very tense for players and spectators alike. It was only decided in the wee hours when Arizona’s Barcenilla won Q vs R against San Francisco’s Vinay Bhat.
From the diagram, correct for white curiously enough are several different moves. The variations vividly show the power of the long-range bishop over the constricted knight in various pawn structures where white can force a king entry.
The first candidate and clearly winning move is 32. Kc4!.
32…b5+? 33. Kd4 Ke8 34. Nxd7! Kxd7 35. Bf1! b4 36. Kc4! and wins.
Tougher is 32…b6 33. a4! Ke8 34. Ne6 Nd8? 35. Nc7+ Kf7 36. Na8! and wins. Or, 34…h5 35. Bh3 Nh6 36. Ng7+ Kd8 37. Bxd7 Kxd7 38. h3! and white will win.
For those who like simpler solutions, by the way, also very strong is the simple and straightforward 32. Nxd7! Kxd7 33. Bh3+! Kc7 34. Be6 Nd8 35. Bg8 h6 36. Bh7! g5 (black is now very soft) 37. Kc4 b6 38. a3 Nb7 39. b4 axb4 40. axb4 Kd7 41. Kd4 Nd8 42. Bf5+ Kc7 43. Bg4 Nf7 44. Bh5! Nd8 45. Ke4 and white’s king walks in and wins. Very methodical and nice domination of the B versus the N.
Not correct, on the other hand, is the tempting 32. Nxh7? Ke8 35. e4 Nh6! 36. e5 Bf5+! and there no advantage for white.