All Is Not Lost With A Draw!
The week 5 Match between the LA Vibe and the Arizona Scorpions was certainly a specticle for the viewers! Board 1 was a bit on the boring side as the players both took their time and decided to split the point after only 18 moves.
Things on Boards 2-4 were up in the air.
On Board 3 two veteran players went at each other. Mark Duckworth had White for LA against Shahin Mohandesi. This was a classic battle where Black was playing for his life from the start and had to look for tactics and White was going after the positional squeeze. Mark did not play his best and failed to find some critical moves that allowed Shahin to get off a small combination bringing about an interesting positional imbalance that in the end saved the 1/2 point from a lost position.
On Board 4 Amanda Mateer seemed to have a chance at creating a passed c-pawn... but it was a trap! Once she pushed her pawn to c5 her opponent quickly traded pawns and then took the pawn on c5 with his knight, leaving it en pris! The game became very sharp and complicated, a difficult turn of events when you feel you have the positional squeeze on your opponent and then you suddenly have to fend off mating threats! I will credit Amanda with a heroic defense of a very difficult position. I also found it interesting that when she played Nh4 (a sad defensive measure) that there was a very interesting move that she could have tried, 29.f5! It's certainly worth looking at. Unfortunately, at these fast time controls you miss some things, and Black missed a chance to show that there was indeed a loop-hole to be found in Amanda's defense. Still, a valient effort by Amanda!
Lastly, on Board 2, the last game to finish, Levon Altounian had his hands full with the youngster Luke Harmon-Vellotti but he was never really in danger, though he also had almost no chance to take advantage of his young adversary. A well played game by both, and as you will see, this was no peaceful draw!
Well, there you have it, 4 games, 4 draws! None of them peaceful (except on Board 1).
In the Pacific Division we see that San Francisco slipped back with a loss while the other three remain within reach. This is a close contest to see who will make the playoffs as it looks like a battle for second place, but this is the USCL and surprising things not only happen, we expect them to happen!
Next up for the Scorpions will be the St. Louis Arch Bishops (Wednesday, 10/2) and the Connecticut Dreadlocks (Tuesday, 10/8). For Arizona to take the lead in the Pacific Division they will need a win or at least split these two matches plus when they face San Francisco again on October 16th they will be looking to climb back into 1st Place if they can pull off a win. Well, that's the plan...
Usually I give predictions for the next match but at the time of this blog the pairings have not yet been posted. So, let me go out on a limb here, Arizona will win 4-0...
With any luck I will add a video of the highlights to the games presented above, if time permits.