New ingredients help the 'Sauce cook up a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia
by IM Dmitri Schneider, Assistant Manager of Manhattan Applesauce
On Wednesday, in an exciting 1st round, the Manhattan Applesauce defeated the Philadelphia Inventors by a 3-1, led by new additions: GM Zviad Izoria on board 1 and NM Ryan Goldenberg on board 4. The 'Sauce was generally in command throughout the match, though the final result was not at all clear until the very final minutes. While Zviad quickly put up the first win of the match, the other 3 games came down to the wire and only when it was clear that Ryan was unmistakably winning and Rico’s rollercoaster ride would end in a draw, could we breathe a sign of relief.
GM Izoria, making his USCL debut, put up the first points with an elegant win over FM Bartell. True to his fighting positional style, out of an interesting variant of the closed Caro-Kann, Zviad managed to open up the position and transpose to a Tarrasch type of a position where black has an isolated pawn with the difference being that the pawn is already on d4 (sometimes this can be an advantage as black has more space to attack and sometimes a weakness). Zviad, in an exemplary manner, demonstrated how to pressure Bartell's isolated d4 pawn -- by surrounding it with his pieces and then thematically pushing b2-b4-b5 to attack black’s defending knight on c6. Bartell, not one to sit back idly, forced a series of tactics that culminated in an exchange of black’s d pawn for white’s b-pawn. However, white’s activity proved too much and with every move, white’s pieces took more and more space, culminating in a nice kingside attack and a rook sacrifice to force checkmate.
The other 3 games were much less clear, and kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Ryan’s position seemed much better but it was not necessarily clear if he’d be able to convert as his position was very closed; my game vs. FM Dov Gorman was hovering on the edge of equality, though I was able to gain some chances thanks to nice interplay between my Rook and Bishop, though time pressure made things much more interesting; and Rico – who was fending off a vicious attack by NM Minear, had the unenviable task of defending 2 Rooks and Bishop vs. a Queen and Knight attack….
...and then all of a sudden within a space of 10 minutes, Ryan, playing with the black pieces, was able to break through in a closed position with typical KID type attack by pushing his h and g pawns all the way to g3 and h3, supported by his rooks and bishops, grabbing more and more space until white’s position fell apart; Rico’s game also suddenly became clear as despite his king being wide open and black having a Q on g4 and N on h3, white’s pieces controlled enough space and after a N for B trade, black could at best force a draw. At this point, it’d be clear that we would win. So the result of my game was less important – a good thing as I missed a win in time pressure which involved taking my opponents pawns and not being afraid of his advanced h6 pawn and active rook.
In the end, a 3-1 win and a nice way to start the year for the Manhattan Applesauce. In my 6 years on the team, I’ve never been more excited for a USCL season to begin. Not only do we have strong GMs such as Izoria and Hungaski joining us this year, but also with a nice mix of stronger lower boards and experienced IMs, there is a lot of potential for the ‘Sauce to make things hot for our opponents. Our fans seem to have recognized this , as we’ve probably had the most successful attendance at our live chess match in Manhattan’s history!