Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Queens vs. Boston: the rematch

For the first time this year, the Queens Pioneers will be playing a rematch. It will be against The Boston Blitz, who are currently tied for the best record in the USCL. I must admit I was very apprehensive when I saw that we would be without Alex Stripunsky. I knew he would not play every match, but I figured he would be really psyched up for a rematch with Larry C. I also felt just a tad of wistfulness that Andrei Zaremba won't be playing. He has been red-hot this year, and his 80% win percentage has to be one of the highest in the league.

But there's no point in dwelling on any of this. It's time to focus. A double-GM lineup is not to be trifled with, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that we're big underdogs here. What, if any, is the team strategy? The only way I see it happening is this: instead of trying to win, we need to just not lose. Hunker down, avoid tactical blunders, and use good clock management. Here are the match-ups:

BOARD ONE: Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs. Eli Vovsha (QUE)
"Ask and ye shall receive." Vovsha loves playing positions where he has to defend accurately, and I'm sure Christiansen will be happy to oblige him. Will Eli do the same thing against Larry that he did against Perelshteyn in week one? Yeesh...
EDGE: Boston

BOARD TWO: Dmitry Schnieder (QUE) vs. Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS)
The fans would love to see a double-edged Sicilian battle. Schneider and Perelshteyn are both dynamic players. I just hope Dima doesn't have another long day at the office.
EDGE: Boston

BOARD THREE: Marc Esserman (BOS) vs. Yuri Lapshun (QUE)
I still cannot believe that Yuri is playing board three. There are a few other teams in the league for whom he would be playing board one. Having said that, he'll be taking on a very sharp Marc Esserman. Marc's games are generally a lot of fun to watch, and I'm sure the viewers on the ICC wouldn't mind seeing another Smith-Morra Slug-Fest. Don't be surprised if Yuri answers with something outrageous.
EDGE: Even

BOARD FOUR: Jeff Kelleher (QUE) vs. Andrew Wang (BOS)
This one looks pretty frickin' grim. I don't see how I can escape the opening unscathed, let alone the middlegame. If anyone has any advice, I'm all ears.
EDGE: Boston

With things the way they are, my plan is just to have fun and enjoy watching my teammates' games. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 6 Preview: Queens vs. Seattle

Well it looks like it’s my turn to write our team’s blog since I’m playing board 4. This week is a big occasion for the Pioneers, probably one of the most pivotal moments of our season: the 2009 season debut of GM elect Lev Milman (I was tempted to say that my 2009 debut would be the most pivotal moment of the season, but then I came to my senses). We’ve been eagerly awaiting his debut and it couldn’t have come at a better time as we’re one win away from getting back to .500. He’s a very experienced player in the USCL, and we’re happy to welcome him the Queens/Manhattan “Applesauce” Pioneers.

I’m a fan of all of the USCL blogs (whenever there’s downtime at work I often catch myself reading them), but I have no idea what to write so I’ll just talk about hanging out with some of my teammates this past weekend. Shaun Smith, our board 4 / Assistant Manager / hookup for our amazing playing site organized a birthday party for his girlfriend Christina at a Middle-Eastern themed bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It was a really fun night, and several Pioneers (as well as one New York Knight) joined in on the festivities. Camaraderie is an underrated quality to have in team chess, and I’m happy to say that we’re all friends on and off the board.

As for my thoughts on our upcoming match with Seattle, they’re a tough team. While we should consider ourselves fortunate to not have to face their double GM lineup, they’re no pushover and I predict a difficult match, with a slight advantage for us purely because Dunkin Donuts is better than Starbucks.

Till next time, Ben

Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 5 Preview: Queens Pioneers vs. Philadelphia Inventors

It has been quite some time since I have been able to post to this blog. Unfortunately, my laptop simply died leaving me without a computer for a couple of weeks (Dell Inspiron 1720 motherboards are dying by the thousands in the last couple of months- I am now fighting with Dell to have to have my computer fixed or replaced.) In any case, I am now back on-line and will continue to post on a weekly basis.

I would like to thank Jeff Kelleher for reporting on our last match in my absence. Since I do not play every week and have a million things to do, I have decided that whoever plays board 4 for our team should write the preview and report of the match they are involved in (most board fours are lucky to be on a team and be given the chance to play, so it is the least us lower rated players can do for the team.). Since I am back in action I will make sure the match is well covered, before and after the games. Since Jeff correctly pointed out that making a match prediction could be a bad thing for us, I will hold off and simply say that this match will be very close since there are tough match-ups of closely rated players on each board---we are essentially using the same type of line-up. I wonder how often extremely close match-ups in terms of ratings occurs. From now on I will no longer predict the result of our matches, but will instead predict the results for all other matches in the league- See the end of this post.

We have white on boards 2 + 4 and black on boards 1+3. We will be employing our week one line-up and try to make up for what happened in that match by coming out strong. Lets take a closer look at this week's games:

Board 1: GM Sergey Kudrin vs. GM Alex Stripunsky
GM Kudrin has had a rough start to the 2009 USCL Season losing all four of his games. Granted he is playing other strong players each week, but still I am sure most would agree this was not expected. His competition gets no easier with GM Alex Stripunsky who also is looking for his first win of the season. I am always confident with Stripunsky on board 1 for our team and this week is no different. This should be a fun game to watch.

Board 2: IM Eli Vovsha vs. IM Bryan Smith
Like myself, Eli will get his first try with the White pieces and I hope this change brings him good luck. Bryan and Eli are very equally matched players and I expect this game to be very close with a small edge to Eli because he has the white pieces.

Board 3: FM Tom Bartell vs FM Andrei Zaremba
All I will say here is that I will make sure Andrei has an XL Iced Coffee from DD.

Board 4: Shaun M. Smith (Me) vs. Kavinayan Sivakumar
I am 0-2 in the USCL in the last 2 seasons and have played both games with the black pieces and am happy to have a change in this game and hope I can be as important for our team as Jeff K. was for our team last week. Like week 1, I am playing another young expert-- I hope for better results this week.

Tune in on Wednesday as this should be an exciting match with clear play-off implications. I can only promise that this will be very close

Other Match Predictions:

Baltimore Kingfishers vs Boston Blitz (Boston wins 2.5-1.5)

Miami Sharks vs Carolina Cobras (Miami wins 3-1)

Philadelphia Inventors vs Queens Pioneers (No Comment)

New Jersey Knockouts vs Chicago Blaze (New Jersey wins 2.5-1.5)

New York Knights vs SF Mechanics (Draw)

Arizona Scorpions vs Dallas Destiny (Arizona wins 2.5-1.5)

Seattle Sluggers vs Tennessee Tempo (Draw)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Carolina vs. Queens: Climate Change

"You want me. You know you want me." Do I grab it? It looks so appetizing at the moment. I could get away with taking it, couldn't I? After all, what's the worst that could happen if I do? But something inside me made me feel that there would be bad consequences if I did. Better to just lay off, and avoid that post-traumatic moment when I think, "Why didn't I trust my instincts?"

I was staring into the heart of the refrigerator at the Chess-In-The-Schools offices, looking for a little cream to put in my coffee. All of a sudden, there it was: a hot-pocket. I had no idea how hungry I was until that moment. With the match set to begin in less than 30 minutes it would certainly do no harm to eat something and avoid feeling famished. As I began to reach for it I instantly had a flashback. Someone else on the team had been in the same situation last week, and things had gone horribly wrong...

No. I must be strong. I walked over to DD next door and bought a bagel. I came back, sat down and got ready to play Craig Jones, the 4th board of the Carolina Cobras. The good thing about this match (for me) was that nobody was really expecting me to win. This is not to say that my teammates didn't believe in me (they did); just that we were so strong on the top three boards I felt we could win even if I lost.

After a few technical issues, the match started, and very quickly I liked the positions we had on boards two and three (Dmitry Schneider and Yuri Lapshun, respectively). Eli Vovsha got into one of his usual masochistic positions. I don't understand Eli's style of play, but he seems to prefer it, so I try to have faith that he knows what he's doing.

In my game, I made a lot of second- and third-best moves in the opening, and after 12...a6! Mr. Jones began an excellent plan to create a queenside initiative. My attempt to counter this in the center was futile. After the thematic knight centralization, 20...Ne5, black had a clear advantage. At this point I thought our team had good chances to win the match without me, so instead of suffering a long and agonizing defeat I decided to sac a pawn go down swinging. My plan was 21.Nxe5 Bxg5 22.f4 Rxe5! 23.fxg5 Qxg5 24.Qf2, with the idea of creating pressure down the f-file. I would be worse, but not completely lost. Who knows? Maybe someday I get into one of those notorious rook endings where black is up a pawn but can't figure out how to win.

But none of this never happened. For whatever reason, Craig hallucinated and played 22...Bh6? which threw away black's advantage and allowed my knight to reach a dream square. Then it was my turn to mess up when instead of playing the safe 26.Kh2 I erred with 26.Kh1? which left my queen overloaded and black could have played 26...Bxb2. But I was allowed to equalize yet again when Craig tried to get fancy and played an unnecessary exchange sacrifice.

After 29...Bc3 30.Qf2 Bd4 31.Qe1 I took a walk around he room. Eli had equalized, and both Dmitry and Yuri had achieved winning positions. Wonderful! In my mind I was thinking, "Okay. He'll just keep attacking my queen, I'll repeat moves, and take the draw." Craig apparently realized the trouble his team was in, so he (understandably) avoided the draw and played 31...Qd8?! Those queenside pawns were looking a bit menacing, and as I began to think what to do about them, I heard Dmitry cry out in agony, "Oh my God!" He had blundered, going from completely winning to totally busted in the blink of an eye. He resigned in disgust, which changed the climate of the match. I couldn't afford to lose anymore! For the first time I felt pressure. What do I do now? I was in severe time trouble, and the endgame hadn't even started yet.

I lunged out and attacked with 36.f5! if only because I wanted to put pressure on Mr. Jones and make him use more time on his clock. After 38...Qb6, my teammates were in the adjacent room watching. Dmitry and Shaun spotted the exquisite 39.Rxf7!! which wins on the spot. Honestly, this move never occurred to me. As soon as I had my plan I proceeded without looking back. The position was double-edged, and with both of us having less that two minutes on our clocks, just one mistake by either player would cost the game. I was leaning forward in my chair, being extra-cautious not to have any mouse-slips. Craig wasn't playing it safe; he wanted his team to win, so he went for broke. His pushed his passers forward, but my passed c-pawn beat him to the punch. It became unstoppable, and Mr. Jones soon resigned.

When the bell rang, I leaned back in relief. I had had a long day of work, which took away some of the exhilaration. What made me the happiest were the smiles on my teammates' faces. When I saw those grins I thought, "This is why I wanted to be on the team." :)

Our first victory! What it lacked in style it more than made up for in excitement. Being an alternate, I may not have the chance to play again this year, but that's okay. One's first victory in the U.S. Chess League is like one's first girlfriend: it may not be the best, but you'll remember it for a long time.

By the way, it may just be a coincidence, but our first victory came after the first time we didn't make any match predictions. Until next time...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Match Preview: Queens vs. New York

This Monday the Pioneers will be matched up against the "other" New York team --- The Knights. Like the Pioneers, even with super strong line-ups the Knights find themselves sitting at 0.5/2. I am sure both teams feel they should have a better record, and after tomorrow's match one of our teams surely will.

When looking at the schedule in the beginning of the season I asked Dimitry, our team manager, if we could play our week three match over the board since we play only 3 train stops away. As I assumed, the answer was no, since the point of the USCL is to give viewers and fans from all over the country the chance to tune in to the action on the ICC. However, if either of us have internet problems we always have live over the board play as an option.

This Monday the Pioneers will send out a different line-up for the third week in a row. Below is a closer look at the individual board match-ups.

Board 1: GM Alex Stripunsky vs. GM Giorgi Kacheishvilli
Board 1 continues to match strong GMs, and this week is no exception. In spite of the way GM Stripunsky's last game ended, he played extremely well and I expect him to continue to in Monday's match. Because he has the White pieces the advantage goes to GM Alex Stripunsky.

Board 2: GM Pascal Charbonneau vs. IM Dimitry Schneider
As you may have read on the USCL page the other day, board 2 pits two players who share an apartment and have been friends for quite some time. This match should be quite interesting since they will depart from home together and see each other when they return. Each knows more about the other than most USCL players knows about their respective opponents. In their last USCL game, Dmitry won with the white pieces and tomorrow I expect a tough game from both sides. Board 2 should be at least a draw for Dmitry.

Board 3: FM Andrei Zaremba vs. NM Matt Herman
Andrei is the only player on our team to play in all of our matches this year. For the third week in a row he will have the white pieces--- a nice way to start the year. Like last week, Andrei is matched with a lower rated opponent and should have a clear advantage. However, Matt has played well since last season and is definately more experienced than Andrei's last opponent. Even so, Advantage Zaremba.

Board 4: NM Yaacov Norowitz vs. WFM Elizabeth Vicary
Elizabeth will play on board 4 for the second week in a row. Last week she played a nice game even though the result was not what she expected. I expect Elizabeth to be well prepared for this game to make up for the large rating difference. There is no doubt that Norowitz is the clear favorite in this game. However, I expect this game to be a toss up and it may decide the match if our top boards do not play as I predicted.

Match Prediction: Queens wins 2.5-1.5

Check out the games live on the ICC on Monday at 7:15pm

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Week 2 Results: The Pioneers draw Baltimore

The team looks closely at Dmitry's game.

After playing in my second USCL game last week and contributing to our team's opening loss, I couldn't wait for our team to get back out there and win our first match of the new season. However, when all the dust settled we were left with a draw- a better result than most predicted, but not quite what I expected as the match progressed. In either case we now have only .5/2 and have our work cut out for us since almost every team in the league is capable of winning against any other team.

As already mentioned in previous posts, our team plays at the main office of Chess-in-the-Schools where I work. Since I was not playing I acted as the team's site manager and host. I was worried when we were minutes from the start of the match and we did not have two of our players - Dmitry and Andrei. It turned out there was nothing to worry about as Dmitry and Andrei showed up at exactly 7:15 PM with Pizza and Iced Coffee respectively--the latter I believe to be Zaremba's secret weapon.
Match Breakdown

Board 1: IM Dmitry Schneider (QNS) vs. GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL)

In my match predictions I said with the white pieces Dmitry should be able to easily draw the game ---which he did despite creative play from Erenburg.
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.a3 Be7 10.Bd3 h6 11.0–0 0–0 12.Rd1 Re8 13.Bh7+ Kh8 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Qa5 16.Bd2 Qc7 17.Nxd5 Qxc2 18.Bxc2 exd5 19.Ba4 Rd8 20.Rac1 Bd7 21.Bb3 Bc6 22.f4 a5 23.Be3 a4 24.Ba2 Rd7 25.Bd4 Bd8 26.Bb1 Bb5 27.Bf2 Bc6 28.Bf5 Re7 29.Bc5 Re8 30.Bg4 Ra5 31.Bd4 Rb5 32.Be2 Rb3
33.Rc3 Rxc3 34.Bxc3 Bb6+ 35.Bd4 Bxd4+ 36.Rxd4 g5 37.g3 f6 38.Bh5 fxe5 39.Rxd5 Rf8 40.Rxe5 gxf4 41.gxf4 Rxf4 42.Be8 Rg4+ 43.Kf1 Rf4+ 44.Kg1 Rg4+ 45.Kf1 Bh1 46.Ra5 Rg2 47.Rxa4 Rxb2 48.h4 Kg7 49.Rf4 Bg2+ 50.Kg1 Bd5 51.Rd4 Be6 52.Bd7 Bf7 53.a4 Kf6 54.Rf4+ Ke7 55.Bb5 Be6 56.Rd4 Bh3 57.Rc4 Kd6 58.Rf4 Ke5 59.Rf8 Bf5 60.Rh8 Kf4 61.Rxh6 Kg3 62.Bf1 Rh2 63.Rh8 Rxh4 64.Rxh4 Kxh4 and we reach the following position. 1/2-1/2. Full Game

Final Position
Board 2: IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (BAL) vs. IM Yury Lapshun (QNS)

I predicted a small advantage for Lapshun prior to the match thinking he would play a more off beat opening like the Budapest Gambit. Instead when he arrived to the match he told me he had prepared a line and in fact reached his desired position with ease. However, I am not so sure he was comfortable with the position he created for himself and the draw turned out to be a good result depsite some late game winning chances for Lapshun which require further analysis.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 c6 7.Qc2 b6 8.b3 Bb7 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Nc3 c5

11.cxd5 exd5 12.Bb2 Rc8 13.Qf5 g6 14.Qf4 Re8 15.Nb5 a6 16.Nc3 b5 17.dxc5 Bxc5 18.Ng5 Ba3 19.Bxa3 Rxc3 20.e3 h6 21.Nf3 Kh7 22.Qd4 Rc8 23.Ne1 Qb6 24.Bb2 Qxd4 25.Bxd4 Ne4 26.Rac1 f5 27.f3 Ng5 28.Nd3 Ne6 29.Kf2 Kg8 30.h4 Kf7 31.a3 Rxc1 32.Rxc1 Rc8 33.Rxc8 Bxc8 34.Nf4 Nxf4 35.gxf4 Nb8 36.Ke2 Nc6 37.Kd3 Bd7 38.Kc3 Be8 39.Bf1 Ke7 40.Bc5+ Ke6 41.a4

Nb8 (what about bxa and then a5?) 42.axb5 axb5 43.Bf8 h5 44.Kb4
Nc6+ 45.Kc5 Na5 46.Kb4

Nc6+ 47.Kxb5 Nd4+ 48.Kb4 Nxf3 49.Kc3 Nxh4 50.Kd2

...g5 (instead of g5, maybe Nf3 right away with an advantage, any thoughts)
51.fxg5 Nf3+ 52.Ke2 Nxg5 53.Bg2 h4 54.Kf2 Bb5 55.Bh6 Ne4+ 56.Bxe4 fxe4 57.Bg7 Kf5 58.Kg2 Kg4 59.Bd4 Bd7 60.b4 h3+ 61.Kh2 Kf3 1/2-1/2. Full Game

Board 3: FM Andrei Zaremba (QNS) vs. FM Shinsaku Uesugi (BAL)

Another great game by Andrei. When he and Dima showed up just on time I was worried...until I saw Andrei with his usual X-L Iced Coffee from DD. Here is the game:
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.c4 d5 7.b3 c6 8.Ba3 Nbd7 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nbd2 b6 11.Qc2 Bb7 12.Qb2 c5 13.Ne5 Rfd8 14.e3 Ne4 15.Ndf3 Ng5 16.Nxg5 Qxg5 17.Nd3 Qe7 18.Rfd1 Nf6 19.Ne5 Rac8 20.Rac1 Ne4 21.Qa3 a6 22.Rc2 Qe8 23.f4 h5 24.Bxe4 dxe4 25.Rcd2 cxd4 26.Rxd4 Rxd4 27.Rxd4 Rd8 28.Qb2 Qe7 29.Qd2 Rxd4 30.Qxd4 Qb4 31.Kf2 b5 32.Qd7 bxc4 33.Qxe6+ Kh8 34.Nf7+ and mate is unstoppable. Full Game

Board 4: WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (BAL) vs. WFM Elizabeth Vicary (QNS)

I payed more attention to Elizabeth's game than any other since it was more exciting at a point than the other three. Elizabeth was clearly prepared for this game and in my opinion had a great position towards the end of the game. However, in the end something went wrong. I am not going to make any comments on this game since Elizabeth already provided a detailed analysis of her game on her blog.
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.h4 h6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Qc7 11.Bd2 e6 12.0–0–0 0–0–0 13.Ne4 Ngf6 14.Nxf6 Nxf6 15.Qc4 Rd5 16.Qa4 Kb8 17.c4 Rxh5 18.Rxh5 Nxh5 19.g3 Ka8 20.Be3 b5 21.Qc2 bxc4 22.Qxc4 Bd6 23.Rd3 Nf6 24.Ne5 Rc8 25.Qa6 Nd5 26.Bd2 Bb4 27.Qc4 c5 28.Kd1 f6 29.Nf3 Qb7 30.Rb3 cxd4 31.Qxd4 e5 32.Qg4 a5 33.a3 Qc6 34.axb4 Qc2+ 35.Ke1 f5 36.Qg6 Qxb3 37.Qa6+ Kb8 38.Qb5+ Ka7 39.Qxa5+ Kb7 40.Qb5+ Ka8 41.Qa6+ Kb8 42.Qb5+ Ka7 43.Nxe5 Nxb4 44.Be3+ Ka8 45.Qa5+ Kb8 46.Qb6+ Ka8 47.Qa7# 1-0 Full Game

Overall, we cannot be upset with the result of this match, as Baltimore is a very strong team and a draw is a good result. With that said we must step up in the next couple matches and bring home the full point. Expect a monster performance next week against NY. Also, in the future I will try to get our players to analyze their own games and I will post them.
More Pictures

Dimitry checks out Yury's crazy game

Andrei gets to work

a poker game breaks out

Elizabeth gets ready for action

Check out our match preview against the NY Knights on Friday/Saturday

Monday, September 7, 2009

Match Preview: Queens vs. Baltimore + New Team Member

Our new relayer to prevent obvious mouse slips!

I hope everyone had a great 3 day weekend. This week the Queens Pioneers will meet the Baltimore Kingfishers and we will have white on boards 1 + 3. A quick glance at Baltimore's roster tells you they are a very strong team that will quicky improve on last season's performance. However, after a tough loss last week the Pioneers look to rebound with a win against Baltimore. Lets take a look at the match-ups.

Board 1: IM Dmitry Schneider 2510 (QNS) vs. GM Sergey Erenburg 2616 (BAL)

Dmitry will make his season debut on board 1. Given that Dmitry has the white pieces here I think the advantage Baltimore has is minimal and Queens will earn at least a draw in this game.

Board 2: IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat 2430 (BAL) vs. IM Yury Lapshun 2504 (QNS)

I agree with Ian Harris that this is an important game for the match. While both players have been active recently, I think it will be hard for Enkhbat to prepare for Lapshun since he can play just about any opening --- what off-beat opening will he employ? Advantage Lapshun.

Board 3: FM Andrei Zaremba 2398 (QNS) vs. FM Shinsaku Uesugi 2354 (BAL)

Coming off his nice victory over SM Marc Esserman and earning 2nd place in the GOTW voting, Zaremba will look to continue his success over his less experienced opponent. With the white pieces the advantage clearly goes to Zaremba.

Board 4: WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg 2265 (BAL) vs. WFM Elizabeth Vicary 2106

It is true that Battsetseg has both a rating advantage and a win in their last encounter. However, as Harris mentioned in his earlier post, Vicary has already stated her intentions for revenge. I am not sure she is out for revenge though--- Vicary "let's just say I hope to improve the quality and consistency of my play in our second encounter." Slight advantage for Battseteg, but the game in my opinion can go either way.

Prediction: Queens Wins 2.5 -1.5 or 3-1

Check back on Wednesday for a report on our match.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Week 1 Result: Boston Slips Past Queens

Our 2009 USCL season finally started last night against the always tough Boston Blitz Team. Before breaking down the match I would like to thank all of our fans who supported us both on-line by watching the games and by coming to the Chess-in-the-Schools headquarters to watch the games live. I would also like to thank Chess-in-the-Schools for providing an amazing playing site.
Being that Boston defeated us in last year's playoffs, it is no suprise that we would have liked to
kick off the season with a win against the Blitz. Lets get right into the action.

The match started about five minutes late due to a connection issue on Eli's laptop. Jeff Kelleher (L) and our Queen's Manager - Dmitri Schneider (R) are seen above fixing the problem. While the issue was being fixed Eli was forced to play on a crappy edition of Blitzen on a Mac desktop computer.

Board 1: GM Alex Stripunsky vs. GM Larry Christiansen

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Be7 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 0–0 7.Bf4 Re8 8.0–0 Bf8 9.Re1 c6 10.a4 a5 11.h3 Nbd7 12.Nf3 Nb6 13.Bb3 Be6 14.Bxe6 Rxe6 15.Qd3 Nfd7 16.Rad1 Qf6 17.Be3 h6 18.Bd4 Qe7 19.Bxb6 Nxb6 20.Nd4 Rf6 21.b3 Qc7 22.Re3 Nd7 23.g3 Qb6 24.Qe2 Nc5 25.Kg2 Ne6 26.Nf3 Re8 27.h4 Rg6 28.Kh2 h5 29.Nb1 Rg4 30.Nbd2 Be7 31.Nc4 Qc5 32.Qd2 b5 33.axb5 cxb5 34.Nxa5 Qb6 35.b4 g5 36.hxg5 Nxg5 37.Qd5 Nxe4 38.Qxh5 Nf6 39.Qf5 Rg6 40.Rd4 Kg7 41.Kg2 Bd8 42.Rxe8 Nxe8 43.Rf4 Bf6 44.Nh4 Rg5 45.Qd7 Qd8 46.Nf5+ Kg6 47.Nh4+ Kg7 48.Qb7 Nc7 49.Nf5+ Kg6 50.Nh4+ Kg7 51.Nc6 Qd7 52.Nb8 Qd8 53.Nf5+ Kg6 54.Nh4+ Kg7 55.Nf3 Rg6 56.Nc6 Qd7 57.Ncd4 Be5 58.Rh4 Bf6 59.Rh5 Qd8 60.Nf5+ Kg8 61.N5d4 Rg4 62.Nc6 Qd7

after black's last move we reach the following position, which is completely winning for white:

Unfortunately due to a mouse slip Stripunsky placed his queen on a8 instead of the winning square b8 -- a clear case of an obvious mouse slip. Stripunsky requested a takeback because of the obvious slip but was denied based on the USCL rules (From USCL Site: It's extremely unlikely that anyone will be granted a takeback when either player is under 5 minutes.) After being denied his request he simply resigned. Given the score of the match at the time of this situation the result was severely unfortunate--since a win by Stripunsky (likely result) would result in a drawn match. Full Game

Please vote in the poll on the right regarding takebacks on 100% obvious mouse slips in the USCL. In my opinion (no disrespect to the USCL) this rule needs some improvement on obvious slips due to the 30 second increment available in all of the USCL games. For example in a completely winning position such as Stripunsky's --- a player with only two mintues left can make a few quick moves and regain enough time to be over the five minute threshold...just food for thought.

Board 2: GM Eugene Perelshteyn vs. IM Eli Vovsha

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.c4 Bxf3 4.exf3 Nd7 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 c6 7.Qd2 Bg7 8.Be2 Nb6 9.d5 Nf6 10.dxc6 bxc6 11.0–0 0–0 12.Rac1 d5 13.b3 e5 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.Bc5 Re8 16.Rfd1 d4 17.Ne4 Nxe4 18.fxe4 Qh4 19.Qd3 Bf8 20.g3 Qh3 21.Bxf8 Kxf8 22.Qa6 Rec8 23.a4 Qd7 24.a5 Rxc1 25.Rxc1 Rc8 26.Rxc8+ Nxc8 27.Qf6 Kg8 28.Qxe5 d3 29.Bd1 Ne7 30.Kf1 Nc6 31.Qc3 Qd6 32.Ke1 Nb4 33.Kd2 Qe7 34.Qc4 Qd6 35.f4 Na2 36.b4 Nxb4 37.Bb3 Qe7 38.Kc3 Nc2 39.Kxd3 Na3 40.Qd5 Qc7 41.e5 Nb1 42.Bc4 Kf8 43.Qd6+ Qxd6+ 44.exd6 Na3 45.Ba6 Ke8 46.Kc3 Kd7 47.Bd3 Kxd6 48.Kb3 1-0 . Full Game

Eli played a tough defense, but as time went on his Knight simply ran out of squares and Perelshteyn's pieces were simply better placed. Given how Eli had to start off with computer and connection issues he played a good game by staying in the fight as long as possible to give our team a chance.

Board 3: FM Andrei Zaremba vs. SM Marc Esserman
1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.e3 Be6 6.Bd3 Qd7 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.a3 Ne7 9.b3 Bf7 10.Na4 0–0–0 11.c4 Kb8 12.Qc2 g6 13.0–0 h5 14.c5 h4 15.b4 h3 16.g3 Bh6 17.b5 b6 18.c6 Qd6 19.Nac3 Rhe8 20.a4 Nc8 21.a5 Re7 22.Ra4 Rde8 23.Na2 Ka8 24.Nb4 Bg8 25.Rfa1 Qe6 26.axb6 cxb6 27.c7 Qd6 28.Rxa7+ Nxa7 29.c8Q+ Rxc8 30.Qxc8+ Qb8 31.Qc6+ Rb7 32.Qxf6 Qf8 33.Qxg6 Bf7 34.Qxf5 Qxb4

35.Qc8+ Rb8 36.Rxa7+ 1-0. Full Game (Please consider this game for GOTW)

Board 4: Andrew Wang vs. Shaun M. Smith

As an alternate last year I was only able to play one game---which unfortunately I lost. This year I hope to play alot more. I actually spent some time preparing for Ilya Krasik and was suprised to be paired against Andrew Wang. After finding some of his games I was suprised he played the same Hyper-Accelerated Dragon that I do. As White he normally plays Bb5 lines against the Sicilian. However, I could not find any lines where he faced the Hyper-Accelerated Dragon. As the picture above shows move 3. d3 was definately a suprise as I expected either an open Sicilian or a Bind position.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d3 Bg7 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 d6 6.0–0 e6 7.c3 Qb6 8.Na3 d5 9.Qe2 Nge7 10.h4 h6 11.Bf4 0–0 12.e5 a6 13.Rab1 Kh7 14.Nc2 Qc7 15.Rfe1 b6 16.d4
Playing c4 instead of taking on d4 and playing on the c file was a major reason I lost this game and my pieces simply had no play and Andrew played a great attack...I look forward to a rematch.

c4 17.Ne3 Nf5 18.Ng4 Qd8 19.Kh2 b5 20.Rh1 b4 21.Kg1 Rb8 22.Rc1 Rb7 23.Qd2 Qa5 24.h5 g5 25.Bxg5 Qxa2 26.Qf4 bxc3 27.bxc3 Rb2 28.Bf6 Rg8 29.Nh4 Nce7 30.Bxg7 Rxg7 31.Nf6+ Kh8 32.g4 Rg5 33.gxf5 exf5 34.Rh3 Qa3 35.Rg3 Rxf2 36.Kxf2 1-0. Full Game

While we lost this match 3-1, most probably recognize that without the mouse slip issue we would have easily drawn this match with white winning on every board. Our next match with Boston will definately have a much better result for us.

More pictures from the match

Christina Dookwah and Jeff Kelleher watch the games on-line

Fritz Gaspard analyzes one of the games

Andrei is feeling good about his game

Aaron relays the moves for Andrei's game since he does not use a board

Eli finally gets to play with the rest of the team

The MVPS of our team last night

I think I am the only one who writes down my game

GM Alex Stripunsky in deep concentration

Look out for our preview of next week's match-up against Baltimore.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 Roster and Playing Site Info

The US Chess League starts next Monday, August 31, 2009. Check out the US Chess League website for all the information.

2009 Queens Pioneers Roster (March 2009 List)
1. GM Alexander Stripunsky - 2619

2. IM Eli Vovsha - 2534

3. GM-Elect Lev Milman - 2472

4. IM Dmitri Schneider - 2508

5. IM Yury Lapshun - 2515

6. FM Andrei Zaremba - 2369

7. Benjamin Katz - 2124

8. WFM Elizabeth Vicary - 2095

9. Shaun M. Smith - 2058

1. Fritz Gaspard - 2098

2. Jeff Kelleher - 2008

This year the team will play all of their games at Chess-in-the-Schools. Given the strength of our team and the flexibility of choosing several strong line-ups the Queens Pioneers will be a force in the 2009 US Chess League. Each week this blog page will preview our upcoming matches as well as provide detailed photo reports of our US Chess League action.

Our first match will take place on Monday, August 31, 2009 at 7pm versus the Boston Blitz. Wish us look and watch the games live on the ICC.

2009 Queens Pioneers Schedule
Week 1
Date: 8/31
Color: W
Opponent: Boston Blitz

Week 2
Date: 9/8
Color: W
Opponent: Baltimore Kingfishers

Week 3
Date: 9/14
Color: W
Opponent: New York Knights

Week 4
Date: 9/23
Color: B
Opponent: Carolina Cobras

Week 5
Date: 9/30
Color: B
Opponent: Philadelphia Inventors

Week 6
Date: 10/7
Color: W
Opponent: Seattle Sluggers

Week 7
Date: 10/14
Color: B
Opponent: Boston Blitz

Week 8
Date: 10/21
Color: B
Opponent: San Francisco Mechanics

Week 9
Date: 10/26
Color: W
Opponent: Carolina Cobras

Week 10
Date: 11/4
Color: B
Opponent: New Jersey Knockouts

Check out our our page often to hear from each of the members of the Queens Pioneers.