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.


  1. I agree that the mouseslip rule is not perfect, but like most things in the league, everyone has a different opinion about it, and I doubt there's any real answer to what the best policy is.

    However, one thing you might be unaware of (one of the main reasons for the 5 minute policy), is when a takeback needs to be given the ICC admins must jump in and input the takeback and add extra time to the clocks as appopriate.

    The large issue yesterday could have been when Stripunsky mouseslipped with about 2:30 left on his clock, if we had wanted to give a takeback, it might have taken us a couple of minutes to decide on that, and we would have had to get the admin to quickly jump in and give the takeback etc. before he flagged. Sometimes it takes the admins a couple minutes to respond to these requests, and obviously it's possible that Stripunsky would have flagged before the admin could have jumped in which would have made the takeback essentially impossible to enforce.

    Obviously, we do not want to have a policy where a mouseslip and potentially a match are decided by whether an ICC admin responds quickly enough to give it - that we feel would be a far worse policy as I don't think anyone would want matches decided by how fast an ICC admin responds. As such having a universal policy for mouseslips with either side being under five minutes seemed like the most reasonable thing to do.

    Arun Sharma

  2. Shaun,

    Nice report. It's very unfortunate that the match had to end the way it did. Someday, I imagine, we will get bitten by the same rule.

    We look forward to the rematch, especially the highly anticipated Krasik - Vicary matchup on bd. 4!

    -Matt Phelps
    Assistant Manager, the Boston Blitz

  3. You are obviously new to the league because: 1. I have never heard of you 2. You didn't know the rules. When you sit to play in my opinion it would be nice to familiarize yourself with the rules to avoid any surprises. If you steal a bottle of vodka from a liquor store and get arrested for it, I don't think it will come as a surprise?!. What made you think that rules in USCL dont exist when they don't happen to suit you? Btw, we were told Stripunsky's relayer made the error not Alex himself, if so I cant understand why you would be using a relayer with 2 minutes remaining. In general, I think Mr Smith shouldn't adopt such complaining tone throughout the entire article about rules and lament what could have been.. it is far more constructive to take a look at one's game and realize just how poorly it was played then trying to deflect responsibility for the loss on an unfortunate mouseslip. In regards to future rematches vs Boston, of course anything is possible but given your board 4 options, you are going to get a big donut hole here throughout the season-- it is definitely your Achilles heel.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Arun,

    I understand the issue with with making a decision and getting an ICC admin to make the take-back. I just wish that a chess game was decided by chess playing. However, I do realize that no system is perfect.


    Thank you you for your kind words and I too look forward to the next match.


    Thank you for coming by and demonstrating your lack of social skills. I could care less that you have never heard of me. I would bet most people know me for the good I do for scholastic chess in NYC and not for the stupid insults I post on-line.

    I am curious--what rules did I not know? I understood the posted rules and clearly stated my opinion that I feel they need some improvement. Re-read my post.

    In other news we do not use relayers as you can see from our photos.

    I want to stress that I respect the rule and just want to have it open for discussion as I feel losing a game in a clearly winning position at that level for a mouse slip is ridiculous.

    I also thank you for insulting my level of playing...I have no problem finding my own flaws but thank you for your help.

    As for our board 4 weakness -- I look forward to proving you wrong in the future.

  6. As the first player in USCL history to mouseslip (although not with terrible results), I began making a habit of typing my moves into the ICC console rather than physically moving them. If everyone did this, we'd be saved from having matches ending on judgement calls like this one.

  7. Agreed, its a good idea Andy and I recall teammate Charles Riordan often doing this. Shaun no need to get upset, you played badly and I think you know this.

  8. Andy,

    Good idea. With under five minutes or with even less time - could typing the moves take too much time?

  9. Yes, in case I didn't make that clear, we too very much regret that this match (or any match) would end in this fashion as has happened basically a couple of times each season. It's just very hard to establish a universal policy that will work perfectly (of course what's perfect is relative in itself) to rectify these situations all the time.

    As for typing we have always recommended that to teams, but for the most part that's recommended for when players have plenty of time, likely most would not want to do it with < 5 minutes as that can waste precious seconds so I'm not sure that really applies to this situation.

    In any case, nice match recap + pictures - I look forward to seeing more of these through the season (hopefully with a more satisfactory outcome for your team!)

  10. Hello,

    First, I'd like to thank the Queens team for a tough match as always. I do not personally think that such a high-level chess game between two Grandmasters should end on an obvious mouseslip. It's unclear how the rules can be changed, but this should be discussed. Second, congratulations to Andrei for playing a very clean game against me. It may look like I didn't play well but as always in a one-sided game, this has something to do with the opponent's strong play/preparation.

    Shaun, nice blog. Keep up the posts. The league should be built around mutual respect.

    -Marc Esserman

  11. Marc,

    Thank you for stopping by and posting. I am glad that there are others that feel a game at the grandmaster level should not end as this one did--- regardless of the match outcome or time etc. I wish others would post there opinions on

    Thank you for your kind words about the blog --I also agree that the league should be built around respect.

  12. I happened to be watching the game live on ICC and was quite shocked by the way it ended. It's not clear to me the difference between an obvious mouse slip and an obvious blunder in the situation that a player is under time pressure. For example, in the position, it is really not clear (to an outside observer) whether white was thinking about protecting his knight on c6 and giving check and just mentally forgot about the black knight guarding a8? After a check on a8 (and assuming that black just didn't notice the queen is hanging too, the knight to e8 leads quickly to a very obvious win. For example, after knight back to e8 and white rook takes on b5, the threat of rook to b8 is hard to neutralize. All because the knight on c6 is protected on a8 and b8 is open for the rook. A possible scenario that has white too focused on a winning combination (except for the minor fact that his queen was under attack by the knight on c7). Of course, this is all hypothetical, but how is an arbiter suppose to know the truth given the time pressure? Are strong GMs really immune to errors while playing under these kind of conditions?

    I actually think that the 5 minute rule is okay (but should be set at 2 minutes instead)because under time pressure players often make mistakes that they wouldn't make under comfortable time conditions. With that said, how do you really know if the player just didn't make a mistake in time pressure? There are obvious situations, but this particular situation seems marginal at best. Also, a diagnol mouse slip seems much less likely than a mouse slip where a player moves his piece along a single rank or file (one square).

    By the way, very nice post.

  13. It isn't easy to keep track of all the excuses but I will try. First of all you lost because you spent all your time preparing for the wrong guy. Eli lost because he could never quite recover from computer problems. And the nail in the coffin was of course the now infamous mouseslip...thank god andrei doesn't need excuses..you would think we did something right but I guess our team wasn't involved in this fateful match.

  14. Ilya,

    Why do you come on blogs and try to start trouble? I never said I lost to Andrew because I was preparing for you...I said I lost because I played inaccurate moves. It is true that Eli having to recover from the connection issues was a set back but I never said that was why he lost.

    I do not know you...but from what I hear and now see first hand you are a very negative person who only looks to insult people and start problems. As Marc said earlier the league should be built around mutual respect...and since you have none --- just SHUT UP! FYI -- I gave your team plenty of respect in my post and still respect your team in spite of your actions.

  15. Nothing personal dude but everyone who read your post today had a nice laugh. It reads like a compilation of " My 60 most memorable excuses". P.S save your anger for next match and stay positive.

  16. Mutual respect sounds nice, but is it even half as entertaining as completely nonsensical personal attacks?

  17. Shaun,

    This is my first week of high school so I've been busy. But I thought I'd come on and thank you for playing. I also look forward to our rematch.

    BTW, who told you about my openings?


  18. I told him because I so how much the poor guy was preparing :)

  19. No you did not Ilya. Stop the lies..LOL


    I am a very crafty researcher and saw your old world youth games on chessbase and to joke about your ICC acount I heard you were super at math -- I hope you get that joke.

  20. In the Stripunsky game the mechanics of the mouse slip are puzzling. The queen is on b7. It wants to go to b8. OK the operator clicks on b7. He would have to slip diagonally up and to the left to get to a8. Since a8 is not on the road to b8, it is a strange mouse slip indeed.