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