It is now ” Mid Season” and I have had a new experience taking in my son’s first season with the US Chess League and the Arizona Scorpions. The US Chess League was a goal to strive for, especially since some of David’s friends in other cities participated in an occasional game. As David’s play has improved, it seemed that there was a possibility for him to contribute perhaps as an alternate. With so many chess players hoping to be on the team, it was very uncertain if he would make the roster even as an alternate. When I spoke to Leo Martinez, AZ Scorpions Manager, he told me that there was a good possibility that he could make the roster. Later , the prospects seem to wax and wane as Leo and Robby Adamson were performing various rating calculations and whether David’s coach would be available to play on the team. When the Scorpions added GM Alejandro Ramirez and the possibility of two more GMs might move to Arizona, it seemed that it would not work out for the 2009 season. Yet , the higher ratings of these players opened the door for David to make the team as his lower rating would apparently balance the lineup.
Chess- High Hopes, Low Expectations, No Guarantees
The season started with excitement of participating in an entirely new experience. It is very special to be on a team with so many great people that David admires, respects, and have taught him so much. David has not had much experience with team chess events, as his school has rarely fielded a full team in the National scholastic events.
We had hoped that David would benefit from the experience with competitive games without traveling. Even though these games are not rated, it would be valuable practice and training. Leo informed us that the first two matches would be in Tucson with David participating with the Tucson lineup, and some hesitation arose. My wife questioned whether David could afford to miss part of school, and whether I could miss any part of work to drive to Tucson, play a late game, and make it back for him to be rested enough to function in school the next day. Given the fact that airline travel is far more difficult and expensive, and since David and I are both comfortable with time pressure, the natural response was, “we are all in.” (Thanks to Poker Stars.Net for all of there support)
The season thus far has exceeded my expectations. David has played in 4 matches thus far, and has been able to participate as a spectator at the Abstrax team site for one other match. The support and encouragement of the Arizona chess community is awesome, and it is hard to believe that there were 82 people watching the match. The sites at the University of Arizona in Tucson as well as the Phoenix Abstrax site have been great, with separate rooms for spectators to view and analyze the games as they are being played.
The fear of mine was that David’s performance could drag the team’s overall performance but fortunately the opposite has occurred so far.
David has two draws and two exciting wins with three of the games with black pieces. David’s win against the 2008 Board 4 All Star was an exciting game and received second place in the Game of the Week voting. It was a beautifully played game , and it was fun for David and myself that so many chess enthusiasts and judges enjoyed and appreciated the game. Some judges and GMs thought the game was ” overrated ” and “nothing I havn’t seen or played before.” David was indifferent to those comments , and was glad that GM Kacheishvili won the prize because he thought GM Giorgi’s game was a special novelty, and his humility is what makes this chess Dad so proud!
As I wrap up this midseason report, I hope that the Scorpions can gain momentum leading towards a possible playoff run. Go Scorpions, and watch out for “The Baby Scorpion.”
Dan Adelberg, Chess Dad
The Arizona Scorpions look to bounce back from a tough Week 2 loss to the Dallas Destiny when they face off against the undefeated Queens Pioneers (2-0). This week’s match will be played in Mesa at 2222 S. Dobson Road Suite 504 (Building 5), complements of John Lalonde, who has generously donated the use of his business for this week’s match, as well as for future matches held in the area.
With the new playing venue also comes the USCL debut of 2 accomplished Arizona players, International Master Rogelio Barcenilla and National Master and Team Manager Leo Martinez. For those who do not know Rogelio, he is a strong International Master from the Phillippines, who is easily GM strength (I believe he has 2 GM norms) and is rated 2560. Rogelio does not get to play much anymore (which is why he does not have the GM title), but he is a very strong player with both colors.
Leo Martinez (a Junior at the University of Arizona) is our 4th board this week, and in the day was a very accomplished scholastic player. Leo won the K-8 National Championship in 2000 (FM Danny Rensch won the K-9 National Championship the same year – AZ dominance), and won numerous State Titles as an individual as well as for St Gregory High School. Recently, Leo cracked master with a fantastic victory against fellow-Scorpion IM Dionisio Aldama.
Onto the specifics of the match (Scorpions players in bold).
Board 1 – GM Alexander Stripunsky (2664) – IM Rogelio Barcenilla (2560)
This marks Stripunsky’s 2008 debut as well, and I expect him to come after Rogelio, knowing they have a decent rating advantage on this board. Stripunsky, who finished 2nd in the 2004 US Championship behind GM Hikaru Nakamura, is also the team’s manager. Expect an exciting game!
Board 2 – IM Mark Ginsburg (2414) – IM Alex Lenderman (2463)
This should be a very interesting match. I somewhat wish Mark was black so Alex could show off his knowledge of the Smith Morra Gambit, for which Alex recently did some videos on for ICC, against Mark “Theory Expert from the 1980s” Ginsburg. Maybe both can agree that Mark will play a Smith Morra against Alex!
I am quite familiar with Alex as he was on the powerhouse Edward R. Murrow team, which gave the team I coach, Catalina Foothills High School, a run for their money in High School Nationals from 2005-2007, something I personally will never forget. Special Note: Alex won the 2005 World Youth Championship for Under 16 years old, and is currently rated over 2500 USCF.
Board 3 – NM Parker Zhao (2227) – FM Danny Rensch (2411)
Parker, who is coached by Stripunsky, has improved dramatically in the last 6 months, recently cracking 2300 USCF. Last month he scored his first IM norm in the New England Masters. Danny will look to bounce back after last week’s disappointing loss, this time with the black pieces.
Board 4 – NM Leo Martinez (2222)- Benjamin Katz (2101)
Benjamin Katz was a hero for Queens in Week 2 where he scored a minature victory against New Jersey’s NM Victor Shen. Leo will get a break from his management duties and try to give the Scorpions some production from 4th board.
Come by the Phoenix location to support the Arizona Scorpions. We expect there to be some spectators and some live commentary on the games.
Hello all !
As has been announced recently on http://www.uschessleague.com/ Arizona has joined the US Chess League and will be playing under the name Arizona Scorpions next season! This is a great chance to join an upcoming league and compete against some of the best players in the nation.
The teams in the league have 8 players with 2 alternate players(who can play only one or two games) during the season. During one match only 4 players can play at a time and their average rating must be 2400 or below. This makes the players chosen for the team important as a team needs to be well rounded and not simply the top players.
The Manager of our team will be Leo Martinez, while the only Assistant Manager at the moment is Robby Adamson. What makes our team unique is that Tucson and Phoenix are included in the team and the team will be playing in both cities throughout the season. Since we have strong players scattered throughout the state this makes our team stronger and easier to coordinate.
So far we have committments from IM Levon Altounian, IM Mark Ginsburg, FM Danny Rensch, FM Robby Adamson, FM Ken Larsen, and NM Leo Martinez. We have many others interested and will be announcing other committments throughout this blog.
If anyone has any questions about the league or the team please reply to this blog.