USCL Week 1-2 Recap
by Alex Ostrovskiy
The Manhattan Applesauce are off to a strong start to the season and remain one of the three perfect teams after two weeks of play. The 'Sauce will look to continue their winning ways against the St. Louis Arch Bishops in our Week 3 interdivision match-up but before we get to that, let's look back at the first two weeks!
Week 1: Manhattan Applesauce vs. New Jersey Knockouts
|Manhattan Applesauce||New Jersey Knockouts|
|GM Robert Hungaski: 2551||GM Alex Stripunsky: 2656|
|IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy: 2486||GM Joel Benjamin: 2634|
|IM Farai Mandizha: 2478||IM Alexander Katz: 2380|
|Shaun Smith: 2065||Ethan Klein: 2022|
|Average Rating: 2395||Average Rating: 2423|
|Manhattan Total||New Jersey Total|
On paper, Manhattan was the slight rating underdog but with both teams striving to take advantage of their respective higher rated boards, the match seemed poised to contain a fair deal of excitement.
The match started promising for us when Farai confidently dispatched his lower rated opponent. As the Knockout's player-manager noted in his match preview, this was a board where we really needed a positive result. After Katz mishandled the opening, Farai entered the middlegame with a positional advantage and a substantial lead on the clock. Unfortunately for the Knockouts, Katz was unable to excavate himself from either of these disadvantages and thus Manhattan took a 1-0 lead.
The next game to finish was the board 4 match up between Ethan Klein and our manager Shaun Smith. A typical Benko structure arose in which Shaun was able to generate thematic queenside counterplay and regain the sacrificed pawn. In the ensuing endgame, our manager possessed a pleasant edge due to White's weak structure but after a moment of hesitancy, the game swung wide open! Although the evaluation of the position swung back and forth, the players eventually acquiesced to a draw. 1.5-.5
The next game to finish was the board 2 matchup between GM Joel Benjamin and yours truly:
Although I felt that I could have tried to pose more problems, from a team standpoint a draw was a satisfactory result as it neutralized the Knockout's most dangerous match-up. Almost immediately after my game concluded, our board 1, GM Robert Hungaski agreed on a draw with GM Stripunsky after a hard fought game where White's position looked a little dangerous but Robert kept his cool and even managed to take the upper hand. Thus, the Manhattan Applesauce took the match with a 2.5-1.5 score.
Week 2: Manhattan Applesauce vs. Boston Blitz
|Boston Blitz||Manhattan Applesauce|
|IM Steven Zierk: 2543||IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy: 2486|
|FM Denys Shmelov: 2473||FM Andrew Shvartsman: 2432|
|NM Chris Williams: 2310||FM Rico Salimbagat: 2286|
|NM Ilya Krasik: 2264||NM Levy Rozman: 2382|
|Average Rating: 2398||Average Rating: 2397|
|Boston Total||Manhattan Total|
The second week saw the Applesauce utilizing a completely new line up and bringing in three fresh faces. Unlike in our match up against the Knockouts, this time the board by board pairings were closer and this was reflected in the nearly identical average team rating.
The first game to finish was the board 1 match up between IM Steven Zierk and the author of these lines:
As stated in the comments to the game, I accepted a three-fold repetition as we had very promising positions on the other three boards. The next game to finish was FM Rico Salimbagat's strong handling of a Jaenisch endgame against NM Chirs Williams.