US Chess League: Week Two Highlights
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
September 12, 2011
USCLmainlogo.jpgWeek 2 of the 2011 USCL Season reminded just about everyone how tough the competition is each year as the New England Nor'easters, the 2010 champions, lost for the second straight week, this time to the New York Knights. Leading the victory for New York was GM Giorgi Kacheishvili and GM Pascal Charbonneau, who scored impressive wins over IM David Vigorito and IM Jonathan Yedidia. Meanwhile, the Carolina Cobras, who have struggled in the past 2 seasons, pulled off an upset of the Philadelphia Inventors, thanks to FM Ron Simpson's win over FM Karl Dehmelt. The Baltimore Kingfishers beat the New Jersey Knockouts, 2.5-1.5, after NM Jared Defibaugh was able to convert a long rook endgame over FM Arthur Shen in a game that finished third in the Game of the Week competition. Lastly, the Boston Blitz were held to a tie by the Manhattan Applesauce, despite a spectacular win by SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun over IM Lev Milman.

The Western Division saw a few upsets and a few expected results. The Los Angeles Vibe took out the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, thanks to an exciting win by GM Melikset Khachiyan over GM Hikaru Nakamura, the superstar of the Arch Bishops. On the same night, the Seattle Sluggers defeated the very tough Arizona Scorpions, due to NM Joshua's Sinanan's win over NM David Adelberg. On Wednesday night, however, there were no surprises as the Chicago Blaze, with a line-up consisting of GM Yury Shulman, GM Josh Fridel, and GM Gurevich crushed a struggling Miami Sharks team, 3.5-0.5. So far, Chicago is definitely the team to beat in the West, with a combined match score of 7-1 in the first 2 weeks! To round out the week, the closely rated San Francisco Mechanics and Dallas Destiny drew their match, after GMs Patrick Wolff and Jesse Kraai weren't able to finish off IMs Salvijus Bercys and Conrad Holt in near-winning positions.

Game Of The Week

SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) - IM Lev Milman (MAN) 1-0

Sammour-Hasbun is no stranger to this award, as he has won it 4 times in his career, not including winning the 2007 Game of the Year award.



The full article can be read here: http://usclnews.blogspot.com/2011/09/week-2-game-of-week.html

Upset of the Week

GM Hikaru Nakamura (STL) - GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1



Unsurprisingly, this game nearly won Game of the Week, ending up second. This marks the first time a GM has won the upset award, but it is completely deserved as this was a 234 point upset of the strongest player who has ever played in the league.

Most Exciting Match

Arizona Scorpions vs. Seattle Sluggers 1.5-2.5

Although this match wasn't filled with shocking tactical blows or crazy attacks, each game was extremely hard-fought and the result of the match certainly wasn't clear until the very end.

Best Move

This was pretty simple--a spectacular move ended a spectauclar game...

SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) - IM Lev Milman (MAN) 1-0
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In the above position, Sammour-Hasbun played

Show Solution


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Endgame Surplus
Last week my highlights did not include any endgames, mainly because there simply weren't any endgames that were particularly interesting to me. The opposite of that was true this week, as there were several complex endgames I'd like to share with the readers:

GM Hikaru Nakamura (STL) - GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1

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GM Khachiyan told me after the game that at this point he felt he would have very good winning chances. Given that he only had a a few minutes left on his clock to make this assessment and finish the game, it is quite impressive that his evaluation was spot on. 41.Kg1 Drawing this endgame for White is a matter of using his Rook to stop Black's pawns from behind, using his King to slow them down, and most importantly using his c-pawn as a decoy to deflect Black's bishop. Finding all the defensive resources for White is hard, finding the correct order to use them in is much harder! 41...g4 42.c4 Ke5 43.Re7+ Kd4 44.Kh2 Bf1 45.Kg3?! Missing the first chance to draw (45.c5! afterwhich White is just barely able to save his skin 45...Bb5 (45...Kxc5 46.Rxe3=) 46.Kg3 h5 (46...Kd3 47.Kxg4 Kd2 48.Rxa7 e2 49.Re7= White is going to capture all of Black's pawns) 47.Kf4 e2 48.c6! Kd3 49.c7 Ba6 50.Rd7+ Kc2 51.Re7 Kd2 52.Rd7+ Ke1 53.Kg3! opening the f-file for the rook to harass the Black king, preventing the e-pawn from queening 53...Kf1 54.Rf7+ Kg1 55.Re7=) 45...h5 (45...Bxc4 46.Rxa7 e2 47.Re7 h5 48.Kf2 h4 49.Ke1 Bxa2 50.Kxe2=)

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46.Kf4? This move loses immediately, but White still had a drawing continuation (46.c5! Passed pawns were meant to be pushed! 46...Bb5 47.Kf4 e2 48.c6 Kd3 49.c7 Ba6 50.Rd7+ Kc2 51.Re7 Kd2 52.Rd7+ Ke1 53.Kg3= and White draws in the same way as above; 46.Rd7+ also loses to Houdini's brilliancy: 46...Kc3 47.c5 Bd3!! Blocking the d-file, while also preparing a crucial detail 48.c6 e2 49.Re7 Kd2 50.c7 Bf5! and there is no check on d7--White is lost 51.Kf2 g3+ 52.Kxg3 e1Q+ 53.Rxe1 Kxe1-+) 46...e2 47.Re4+ (47.c5 is now pointless as Black wins with... 47...Kxc5!) 47...Kd3 48.c5 Bg2 49.Re7 Kd2 50.Rd7+ Ke1 (50...Ke1 51.Kg3 Kf1 52.Rf7+ Bf3-+)  0-1

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GM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) - FM Costin Cozianu (SEA) 1/2-1/2
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After reaching a roughly equal late middlegame, GM Barcenilla began to play very strongly and outplayed his opponent to reach the following endgame, which is winning for White: 42.Ne5+! Due to Black's weaknesses and White's enormous space advantage, there was definitely more than one winning plan. However this move is just begging to be played! 42...dxe5 43.fxe5 Ne6! Fighting back and forcing White to find a winning continuation. What's really interesting here to me is that normally 3 connected passed pawns would bulldoze over a knight or 2, but as this game shows, wielding connected passers is never easy 44.Bxh5+? Securing the draw, but giving away the win. Perhaps Barcenilla had panicked or simply didn't want to blunder the game away in time-pressure. (44.d6 Naturally, was winning. Now follows 44...N8c7! 45.Bd5! Ng5 46.d7 (46.dxc7 Qxc7 47.Qc4+- is simpler but will require some more accurate moves to finish the game) 46...h4 47.gxh4 Nge6 48.Bxe6 Nxe6 49.Qc4! Kf7 50.c7 Qxc7 51.Qxc7 Nxc7 52.d8Q+-) 44...Kxh5 45.Qxf5+ Ng5 46.Qd7 Qa8 47.d6
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Now White has his 3 connected passers against 2 very confused knights, but surprsingly the position is drawn 47...Kg6 48.Qb7 White is forced to repeat moves, as pushing his passed pawns endangers his king (48.Kf1 Stepping out of the pin, threatening c6-c7, actually loses to 48...Ng7! 49.c7 Qf3+ 50.Ke1 Ne4! 51.c8Q Qf2+ 52.Kd1 Qd2#) 48...Qd8 49.Qd7 (49.c7 Nxc7 50.dxc7 Qd2+= and Black gives a perpetual check) 49...Qa8 50.Qb7 Qd8 51.Qd7 Qa8 Game drawn by repetition, a very exciting repetition ½-½

NM Jared Defibaugh (BAL) - FM Arthur Shen (NJ) 1-0
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In this position, White could have expected his opponent's resignation shortly, but there was still some chess left...
57...g4+! (57...Rc4 58.Rg7+-) 58.Kg3? Trying to avoid stalemate tricks, this move actually throws away the win (58.Kxg4 would transpose to the eventual game continuation and would win) 58...Rc3+? FM Shen correctly realized that his only chance to save the game was to try and force a stalemate by constantly offering his rook to White's king. However, the execution of this idea was critical, and misplayed. Correct was (58...Rc4! 59.e6 (59.Rg7 Re4=) 59...Ra4 60.Kh4 g3+! After pushing e5-e6 White can't escape from the suicide rook 61.Kxg3 Rg4+ 62.Kf3 Rf4+=)
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59.Kxg4 Rg3+ 60.Kf5 Rg5+ 61.Ke4 Rg4+ 62.Kd5 Rd4+ 63.Ke6 Rd6+ 64.Kf5 Rf6+ 65.Ke4 Rf4+ 66.Kd5 Rd4+ 67.Kc6!
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NM Defibaugh finds the correct path to escape from the checks 67...Rc4+ 68.Kd7 Rd4+ 69.Ke8 Rd8+ 70.Kf7 Rf8+ 71.Ke6 Rf6+ 72.Kd7 Rf8 [72...Rd6+ 73.exd6] 73.Re8+ 1-0

For more blogs and this week's line-ups and matches, go to the US Chess League homepage. Watch live games on Monday and Wednesday night on the Internet Chess Club. Kostya Kavutskiy will also be posting weekly recaps from his team's perspective at thelavibe.blogspot.com