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2013 USCL Week 1 AZ vs Seattle

What a long strange trip it will be... 

Many thanks to Greg Shahade and Danny Rensch for letting me join in on the fun here at chess.com.

Since this is my first blog on this site I have updated my profile so if anyone wants to know more about me that is the place to go.

Now that chess.com is covering the US Chess Leage this is the place to be. 

It is always difficult to cover a 'team' match by looking at individual games as you don't get a feel for the complete 'team situation'. On the flip side it is very interesting to watch a team match unfold live. For example, there are some positions that the players get to that look totally obvious as to what should be played next, yet, the player on the move waits and waits and waits. This can't be good as the time control is already pretty short to begin with. What the players are often doing (other than the obvious bathroom break or chugging down a beer) is that they are waiting to see the developments on other boards. This can cause an extremely increased tension in the match as it unfolds.

This week's match between the Seattle Sluggers against the Arizona Scoprions is no different! We'll take each game one by one:

Our first game pairs Costin Cozianu with White against Mackenzie Molner with Black. By the way - congratulations to Mac and Amanda for tying the knot over the summer, may you have a long and prosperous and loving life from here on!

Our next game pits the tardy Levon Altounian with White against Tian Sang of Seattle. Lev thought that the match started an hour later than it did, it's a small miracle that he made it to the site in time!

Arriving late Lev had to play fast, but the funny thing is that he almost ended up with as much time he started with. Sang made a doubtful sacrifice late in the middle game that posed some interesting problems for White, but Lev was able to solve the riddle soon enough.


On Board 3 Pedram Altoufi, a returning veteran to USCL play had Black against Curt Collyer. The players soon found themselves in a very closed position in a Full Benoni. White maintained a decent edge throughout the opening and middle game. As the endgame progressed the other games had finished and this turned out to be a critical game that would decide the result of the match. Curt found himself in an all-or-nothing contest, he had to win. A draw would still lose the match as Lev had already won his game.

Confusion on both players part made this a very messy endgame. Pedram missed several opportunities to hold the draw and even a couple of instances of gaining an edge or even winning advantage.

The sad thing is that at the end of the game Pedram must have made a 'pre-move' that finally did him - the problem is that this position was a dead draw! Ouch.

We have seen the Masters, now for the apprentice. Four there always are, not more - not less. Masters and an apprentice.

For our final game we have newcomer Ben Marmont with the White pieces against Megan Lee. This was a relatively peaceful affair that ended in a draw. There was some unique play that is befitting to Ben's style, but Megan managed the game well. 

This was a battle of two poorly placed pieces, White with his rook on a2 and Black with her bishop burried on h7.

An odd thing happened at the end of the game. A three fold repetition was about to appear on the board when Megan backed away from the forced draw. The position was left live on the board as Marmont's clock ticked down and finally expired. The viewers thought that he had lost on time but soon the truth came out. While Megan avoided the forced draw, on her next move the players agreed to a draw! The only problem was the game was left as being 'live'. 

Here is the game, the redeployment of White's King's Bishop is an interesting one.

With this, and the disasterous result on board 3, Seattle managed to tie the match.
Congratulations to Seattle. I consider this an upset and a pretty big one at that. The rating disparity was hugely in favor of Arizona, yet, thanks to the Coulter vs Atoufi game, Washington was able to come from behind and draw the match. 
Well, there will be a rematch in a few weeks. Plus, we still have football and basketball season to get through - hehe.
Next Wednesday on September 4th the Scorpions will take on the San Francisco Mechanics. This should prove to be an exciting match-up on all four boards.
  1. Molner (AZ) vs Kraai (SF)
  2. Naroditsky (SF) vs. Mohandesi (AZ)
  3. Ginsburg (AZ) vs. Liou (SF)
  4. Banik (SF) vs. Hu (AZ)

For my predictions I think that Mac will take the point from Jessie, but I also believe that Daniel will get the point off of Mohandesi (look, Daniel is just getting too strong, he needs to go to Europe now, okay? No more USCL, send the lad off to the Bundasliga). However, I feel that on Board 3 Mark Ginsburg will return to the line-up in full force and take the game agains Yian Liou. Yian is not to be underestimated but Mark I am sure will be gunning for bear. As for the 4th board, that is a toss-up in my opinion. I would have to give an edge to Bryan, but this being his first contest in the USCL he might have some jitters. I am going to call this one a draw.


My prediction: AZ 2.5 - SF 1.5


See you on chess.com/tv!

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