USCL weeks 1 to... 8...
Hi all! I've obviously fallen a bit behind on the whole USCL writing thing, partially due to the fact that MIT began (psets are hard), but mostly involving the fact that my computer decided to implode. However, the savior known as FedEx finally decided to actually show up today, so I'm finally back in business.
First off, I should probably catch up on some introductions. This year, I'm very happy to be a part of the New England Nor'Easters, a very strong team with the following roster:
- GM Alexander "I was completely winning then I flagged" Ivanov, who has been a staple of the team for the last half-decade
- IM David "I somehow win every caro game" Vigorito, our fearless leader and huge performer this year, with a nearly 2700 performance rating thus far
- SM Mika "I haven't met him yet so here's a random superlative" Brattain, who hasn't seen much action yet this year, but has a completely accurate nearly 2800 performance rating anyway.
- IM Alexander "I was completely losing then I flagged" Katz, who this author knows quite well, and is attempting to play a different opening in every game with white
- FM Steven "If you want to give me pawns, I'll take your pawns" Winer, who has been cruising on the third board by simple, solid, take all your pawns play
- FM Charles "Can't mate me" Riordan, whose incredible escape vaulted us past Atlanta and thus into first place... but more on that later
- NM Lawyer "I'm running out of things to write darn" Times, who's had a solid year so far minus a rough game against Carolina, including a huge win against Atlanta
- NM Tim "Did he finally resign?" Sage, who demonstrated his excellent technique in the famous R+N+2P v R ending in a key win last week
- NM Siddharth "Now I'm *really* running out of things to write" Arun, who started off the season with a solid board 4 showing, but hasn't been active since
- NM Carissa "You take too long to get to the point" Yip, who STILL OWES ME A POP-TART, and finally
- Nithin "Alright forget superlatives" Kavi, who's had a rough USCL year, but is quickly pushing master anyway.
Somehow, almost everything has gone right for us so far, and a host of close victories have propelled us to the top of the standings, just ahead of Manhattan on tiebreaks. The positioning has also given us a clinched playoff spot, so you'll have to put up with me for at least one more week than was necessary! Huzzah!
Alright, since I seem to be proving Carissa right, I'll get to some actual substance now.
|Philadelphia Inventors||New England Nor'easters|
|FM Dov Gorman: 2403||0.0||1.0||GM Alexander Ivanov: 2628|
|NM Peter Minear: 2353||0.0||1.0||FM Steven Winer: 2425|
|NM Isaac Leon: 2278||0.5||0.5||NM Lawyer Times: 2290|
|NM Erick Garcia: 2329||0.5||0.5||NM Siddharth Arun: 2228|
|Average Rating: 2341||Average Rating: 2393|
|Philadelphia Total||1.0||3.0||New England Total|
Week 1 began with a matchup against the Philadelphia Inventors, which we won relatively cleanly. The season began with a great start, as FM Steven Winer smashed Peter Minear after the latter took one too many pawns away from his king. GM Alex Ivanov provided the other full point of the match, and the bottom two boards ended in draws for a 3-1 New England victory.
|New England Nor'easters||New Jersey Knockouts|
|GM Alexander Ivanov: 2628||0.0||1.0||GM Joel Benjamin: 2629|
|IM Alexander Katz: 2464||1.0||0.0||SM Praveen Balakrishnan: 2422|
|NM Lawyer Times: 2290||0.5||0.5||NM Brandon Jacobson: 2192|
|NM Siddharth Arun: 2228||1.0||0.0||NM Aaron Shlionsky: 2232|
|Average Rating: 2403||Average Rating: 2369|
|New England Total||2.5||1.5||New Jersey Total|
The second week was an incredibly intense match, as GM Joel Benjamin somehow tricked GM Alexander Ivanov in mutual heavy time pressure to bring a full point to New Jersey, but IM Alexander "it's weird talking in third person" Katz proved for all eternity that the Pirc is in fact winning to equalize the score. NM Siddharth Arun followed up with what would turn out to be the decider, but NM Lawyer Times was the hero of the night, defending a miserable position for hours to save the match.
The position on move 56...
...and the position 50 moves later, when a draw was finally claimed
|Boston Blitz||New England Nor'easters|
|IM Steven Zierk: 2562||0.0||1.0||IM David Vigorito: 2511|
|IM Denys Shmelov: 2444||0.5||0.5||IM Alexander Katz: 2464|
|NM Chris Williams: 2334||0.0||1.0||FM Steven Winer: 2425|
|NM Ilya Krasik: 2276||1.0||0.0||Nithin Kavi: 2175|
|Average Rating: 2404||Average Rating: 2394|
|Boston Total||1.5||2.5||New England Total|
The third week saw the inter-city Boston-NE rivalry, which is always an entertaining match to watch, but New England took this one convincingly. IM David Vigorito decided to play the Caro-Kann for who knows what reason, but it worked perfectly as he seemingly effortlessly outplayed a very strong player. FM Steven Winer perfectly demonstrated his "Take ALL the pawns" strategy for the second point, and IM Alexander "third person is getting weirder" Katz clinched the match by offering a draw in a technically winning position. It was also Nithin Kavi's first appearance of the year, but Ilya Krasik spoiled his entrance with a flashy -- if a bit sloppy -- victory. Whatever that game was, it certainly warmed Krasik up for the rest of the season: his next two games won GOTW!
|New England Nor'easters||New York Knights|
|GM Alexander Ivanov: 2628||0.5||0.5||GM Mark Paragua: 2638|
|IM Alexander Katz: 2464||0.0||1.0||GM Pascal Charbonneau: 2552|
|FM Charles Riordan: 2342||0.0||1.0||FM Nicolas Checa: 2436|
|NM Carissa Yip: 2236||1.0||0.0||Joshua Bromberg: 2004|
|Average Rating: 2418||Average Rating: 2408|
|New England Total||1.5||2.5||New York Total|
We had a serious setback in week 4, however, as the always-absurdly-strong New York team did just enough to squeak past us in this match. GM Pascal Charbonneau proved that GMs are actually pretty good at chess, and FM Nicolas Checa pressed a much worse position -- then a slightly worse position -- then a dead equal position -- then a slightly better position -- then a position with serious pressure -- into the key victory. NM Carissa Yip's dismantling of the Grand Prix attack, unfortunately, wasn't a big factor in this match, but the game is an instructive exercise in not randomly collapsing when being attacked (this is mandatory viewing for anyone playing Krasik).
|New England Nor'easters||Connecticut Dreadnoughts|
|GM Alexander Ivanov: 2628||0.5||0.5||GM Sergey Kudrin: 2586|
|IM David Vigorito: 2511||0.5||0.5||FM Joshua Colas: 2350|
|IM Alexander Katz: 2464||1.0||0.0||NM Ian Harris: 2346|
|Nithin Kavi: 2175||0.0||1.0||FM Jason Shi: 2249|
|Average Rating: 2445||Average Rating: 2383|
|New England Total||2.0||2.0||Connecticut Total|
In week 5 we faced the Connecticut Dreadnoughts, and this match definitely could have gone either way. GM Sergey Kudrin was the unsung hero, as he saved a lost ending for the arguably match-saving half point, and FM Joshua Colas also remained solid in a difficult ending to neutralize our top two boards. Nithin Kavi just couldn't get any real attack going in a King's Indian defense, and we all know how that turns out (spoiler: brutality), so my horrific technique ended up being on display for almost an hour as I continually rejected simple wins in favor of the "safe" alternative, until suddenly it wasn't so clear I would win at all. Fortunately, I didn't screw up completely, and the match ended in a well-fought tie.
|Atlanta Kings||New England Nor'easters|
|IM Daniel Gurevich: 2449||1.0||0.0||IM Alexander Katz: 2464|
|NM Richard Francisco: 2391||0.0||1.0||FM Steven Winer: 2425|
|NM Michael Corallo: 2359||0.5||0.5||FM Charles Riordan: 2342|
|FM Xiao Cheng: 2323||0.0||1.0||NM Lawyer Times: 2290|
|Average Rating: 2381||Average Rating: 2380|
|Atlanta Total||1.5||2.5||New England Total|
At the halfway point, both of these teams were performing quite well (3/5 and 3.5/5, respectively), and it's a complete miracle that we managed to win this match -- let alone not get swept. FM Steven Winer played a nice, methodical game for a relatively clean victory, but he was the only one on the team that wasn't in serious trouble at some point! FM Charles Riordan, in particular, was just straight up getting mated, and Lawyer Times appeared to be on the wrong end of a powerful exchange sacrifice. In the meantime, IM Daniel Gurevich apparently prepped a 25-move deep line and ended up with 85 minutes on his clock. Whoops.
Somehow though, Riordan survived and Michael Corallo was forced to settle for a perpetual, while Lawyer Times turned it completely around (or maybe it was always fine, just visually scary) and showed that material is important for a reason. This, thankfully, made my complete inability to play endings largely irrelevant.
|New England Nor'easters||Carolina Cobras|
|IM David Vigorito: 2511||1.0||0.0||IM Jonathan Schroer: 2427|
|SM Mika Brattain: 2452||1.0||0.0||SM Ilker Bozkurt: 2393|
|NM Lawyer Times: 2290||0.0||1.0||NM Aaron Balleisen: 2282|
|NM Tim Sage: 2183||0.0||1.0||NM Steve Wang: 2233|
|Average Rating: 2359||Average Rating: 2334|
|New England Total||2.0||2.0||Carolina Total|
|Miami Sharks||New England Nor'easters|
|GM Julio Becerra: 2616||0.5||0.5||IM David Vigorito: 2511|
|NM Jeffrey Haskel: 2355||0.0||1.0||IM Alexander Katz: 2464|
|FM Jorge Pelaez: 2264||0.5||0.5||FM Steven Winer: 2425|
|NM Vlad Yanovsky: 2229||0.0||1.0||NM Tim Sage: 2183|
|Average Rating: 2366||Average Rating: 2396|
|Miami Total||1.0||3.0||New England Total|
And so, after 8 weeks, we've already improved on last year's score by a factor of... well... twelve. Next week will be a huge showdown though, as we take on our co-leaders, the Manhattan Applesauce, for control of the division and potentially a clinched first-round bye. Don't miss the match, this Tuesday at 7:20 PM, only on ICC! And don't forget to check out the main US Chess League site for all the league information and videos of Greg singing (disclaimer: these may or may not actually exist).