Week 4 Recap: vs. Philly
Last week the L.A. Vibe was sorely beaten 3-1 by the Philadelphia Inventors. It was a tough match, and like our other matches this season, I felt very good about our chances early on. Nicky had a large time advantage out of the opening and seemed to have a comfortable position. Keaton definitely had the more pleasant position with Black and a small time advantage as well. Tatev's position looked unclear but she had an extra pawn with no obvious compensation for her opponent, and, of course, a quickly rising time advantage. Melik didn't get much with White against GM Erenburg, but was definitely not worse until much later on.
Melik needed to find 27.g6! to keep the game balanced, but after 27.gxh6 Black's position was just easier to play, and with not much time Melik made a few inaccuracies and GM Erenburg showed his high class of play to take the full point smoothly. <--This game won 3rd place in GOTW, so Erenburg's strong play certainly didn't go unnoticed.
Keaton was just slightly better in the middle game, and even after the strange Nd4-e2-back to d4 rendezvous, he had fine compensation for his missing pawn in the form of his strong, unopposed dark squared bishop, but made a pretty bad oversight when things got complicated and ended up blundering his queen. Oh well, these things happen even to very strong players!
A strange game to say the least, but I mostly blame that on the opening. Tatev kept building her advantage slowly and her opponent was out of time around move 20 or so--after a bunch of blunders from both sides Tatev ended up winning, raising her USCL performance even higher!
Nicky was fairly unfamiliar with the Ruy Lopez exchange, but ended up getting a decent position anyways. The RLE is an opening that is only dangerous for Black if White has a very sneaky and strong plan to improve their position and completely outplays their opponent--but with simple, non-confrontational moves White can't really hope for any advantage against a reasonably good player. But that's just my opinion. In the game Nicky was doing all right, even though I'm not a fan of his decision to let FM Shahade ruin his kingside structure, and was unable to find some good defensive moves to save a slowly deteriorating position.
So all in all an unsuccessful week--it's hard to say whether we are getting unlucky breaks this year or if we got a lot of lucky breaks last year.