USCL Week 1-2 Recap

USCL Week 1-2 Recap

Sep 6, 2014, 9:00 PM |

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. 

The next game to finish was NM Levy Rozman's win on board 4. After an unusual opening, Levy's position appeared to be a little shaky but when a chance presented itself, he immediately took advantage of the opportunity and turned in a powerful attack: 
With powerful play on the bottom boards, the Applesauce had clinched the match 2.5-.5. Unfortunately FM Andrew Shavartsman spoiled a promising position in time pressure and allowed the Blitz to pull within the slimest margin of defeat. 
And so the Applesauce emerged victorious from the first two hard foguht matches. Of course there are still 8 weeks remaining of USCL regular season action, and you can follow them all on and watch the games live on ICC. As mentioned at the beginning of the recap, our week 3 match up will be against the STL Arch Bishops who have also won their first two matches. The Arch Bishops have been fielding some seriously strong line ups, so make sure to follow the action live (and cheer for the Applesauce!) this Wednesday at 7:45 PM EST.