GM Robert Hess Recaps the Scorpions-Blaze USCL Match
ARIZONA WINS!! What a weekend it has been for Arizona teams. The Wildcats of Arizona and the Sun Devils of Arizona State each provided wins on Saturday to begin the ‘Zona rampage. The Cardinals, defending NFC champions, humiliated the Seahawks 27-3 (Thank you Warner and Fitzgerald for being on my fantasy team – no thank you Cardinal stingy defense, I also have Hasselbeck!) on Sunday to move to a tie atop the division. Best for last, your Arizona Scorpions, barring a complete meltdown, may have assured themselves a playoff berth with their third straight match win. This week it was a 2.5-1.5 victory over the Chicago Blaze. To the games we go!
Board 1: Angelo Young (IM, 2325) vs. Rogelio Barcenilla (GM-Elect,2583)
Angelo Young has yet to lose a game in the USCL. His record is phenomenal, especially considering he is often considerably out-rated. Daniel Rensch, Arizona’s third board, has a significant rating advantage over Young. However, Young maintained steady dominance over his GM-elect opponent. Barcenilla seemed to be playing from a worse position for most of the game. Instead of playing an early cxd4, he allowed Angelo to obtain a large space advantage. After sacrificing an exchange, the game should have been easily over. However, black missed an opportunity with 37… Qc5+, which does give black some good fighting chances. Additionally, the only way for black to keep on breathing after 38. Qb7 was Qxb7 39. axb7 Rb8 with chances to make a draw. However, after Rogelio missed these two finds, Young made quick work of his opponent. 1-0
Board 2: Dionisio Aldama (IM, 2473) vs. Florin Felecan (2430, IM-Elect)
Aldama played for the second straight week and again proved productive. Felecan, the ever dangerous player (he did have a great victory over Yury Shulman earlier this year), seemed to obtain a strong Sicilian position. Aldama played smooth, forward chess, not succumbing to passivity. Even after Felecan stole a pawn, Dionisio still pressed on for the win. Unlike typical Felecan games, there were not all too many tactics involved. Rather, white achieved the initiative and kept on rolling.
18. f5 was also a possibility for white, as g5 is responded to by 19. Bf2 (targeting a nice cushion on b6).
Black could have played 35… Rd6 36. Qb3 (36. Bb4?? Rdxc6!) a2! 37. Qb7 Qxb7 38. cxb7 Rb8!! 39. Rc8+ Kh7 40. Rxb8 Rxd5 41. Rd8 Rxa5 42. B8=Q A1= Q 43. Qb3 Qa2 about = to my eyes.
However, this is tough to find over the board, and I found this based on 15 minutes pure calculation. Maybe a computer engine will prove me wrong, but to my human eye, seems like black’s best try. 1-0
Board 3: Mehmed Pasalic (IM, 2346) vs. Daniel Rensch (IM-Elect, 2434)
This was arguably the most crucial board of the match. On paper, at least, this was the best matchup, pitting two recently minted IMs against one another. Rensch is known to have a rough time in the league, with his performance rating just two above his birth year (1987 performance, 1985 birth). That being said, he is undoubtedly much better than that, proven with his last IM norm at the Spice Cup B section. Pasalic, on the other hand, has proven his strength in the league, performing 2492 last year with 4/6. Now moving to the game…
Rensch came out like a man with something to prove. He chose a very active opening, and certainly achieved a rather nice position. After 15 moves, black was already better. Rensch had the two bishop advantage and probably should have put his dark-squared bishop on the g1-a7 diagonal. However, after trading on c4, the position remained equal until f5 was played. White immediately had a better position, as it weakened the dark squares. After everything was traded on e5, Pasalic attempted to consolidate his pawn advantage. His best try was to go 47. Kg2 but regardless it looks rather drawish. Interesting game here. ½-½
Board 4: David Adelberg (2160) vs. Eric Rosen (2164)
This was a matchup between two players on the rise. Both have become much stronger as of late. But nobody should be surprised to see Adelberg win this match for his team. The kid has been on fire for the Scorpions, playing quite well in most of his games (disregarding the hiccup vs. Gregory Young). After 19. Bd2, perhaps just retreating Qc7 was best. After Qh5, though, it seems that black is just losing. Yes, perhaps the queen can escape with a move like g5!? After Nh4, but this just looks too weakening. Ng4 was immediately losing, and Adelberg played a very solid game and easily took home the point. 1-0
Overall, a rather strong showing by the Scorpions. All boards were hard fought, and with the exception of the upset on board 1, proved to play in Arizona’s favor. Angelo Young did a fantastic job taking down Barcenilla on board 1, ‘Zona took control with the white pieces, and Rensch held down Pasalic. 3 wins a row, steamrollin’ their way into the playoffs: yourrrrrrrr 2009 Arizonaaaaaaaa Scorpionssssss (dramatic effect like at an NBA game)