USCL Week 6-7 Recap
by Alex Ostrovskiy
After a strong 2/2 start the 'Sauce slowed down to score 1/3 in our subsequent matches. Just like that, half of the USCL regular season was completed and our 3-2 record left us tied for 3rd place in the Eastern Division with the New Jersey Knockouts. With the playoff race shaping up, each match possessed greater implications for our chances to wrestle away one of the all-important playoff slots.
Week 6: Manhattan Applesauce vs. Boston Blitz
|Manhattan Applesauce||Boston Blitz|
|IM Victor Shen: 2510||IM Steven Zierk: 2543|
|IM Farai Mandizha: 2478||IM Marc Esserman: 2528|
|FM Rico Salimbagat: 2286||NM Chris Williams: 2310|
|NM Levy Rozman: 2382||NM Ilya Krasik: 2264|
|Average Rating: 2414||Average Rating: 2411|
|Manhattan Total||Boston Total
Week 6 marked our second match against the Blitz this season; the first one ending in a 2.5-1.5 victory for Manhattan. Both teams came in sporting slightly higher rated lineups than the ones featured in their Week 2 showdown. On the first boards, Manhattan subsituted IM Victor Shen for IM Alex Ostrovskiy (yours truly) and IM Farai Mandizha for FM Andrew Shvartsman. Meanwhile Boston replaced SM Denys Shmelov with IM Marc Esserman. Boards 3 and 4 remained identical for both teams.
Our greatest advantage lay on board 4 where we stationed NM Levy Rozman. At 2382, Levy is certainly one of the most fearsome bd4s in the league.
Indeed, last match Manhattan emerged victorious due to the strengths of our bottom boards (scoring 2-0). However, the Blitz made it very clear that history would not repeat itself!
An unfortunate game for Rico. After a mistake in the opening, his position became very unpleasant to play and Williams certainly made the most out of his position. 1-0 for Boston.
The next game to finish was the board 4 battle between Rozman and Krasik.
A nice win by Levy who moves up to a 3-1 record, including a perfect 3/3 on board 4. While Krasik's opening certainly wasn't bad, his middlegame was a bit too routine and after the window of opportunity closed to drum up an initiative, he faced an uphill battle against a material disadvantage. Match tied 1-1.
With the bottom boards finished, the match would be decided by titled players on the top boards. Things began to look good for us as Farai built up a powerful position against Marc Esserman
A clean victory by Farai whose efforts earned him a game of the week nomination. Leading the match 2-1, it was up to the board 1 battle between IM Shen and IM Zierk to determine whether the Applesauce would secure their 4th victory of the season or whether the Blitz would save a crucial .5 point.
Unfortunately for us, Zierk's fighting spirit prevailed to give Boston a 2-2 tie. Victor definitely played a good game, but inaccuracies at crucial moments prevented him from making the most out of his position.
After drawing against the Blitz, the Applesauce moved to a 3.5-2.5 record. This placed us in clear 4th place in our division, one slot out of the playoff spots.
Week 7: Los Angeles Vibe vs Manhattan Applesauce
Time Control: Game in 60 with 30 second increment
|Los Angeles Vibe||Manhattan Applesauce|
|IM Andranik Matikozyan: 2538||IM Victor Shen: 2510|
|IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti: 2522||IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy: 2486|
|NM Nicky Korba: 2261||SM Ryan Goldenberg: 2384|
|FM Michael Casella: 2262||Shaun Smith: 2065|
|Average Rating: 2396||Average Rating: 2361|
|Los Angeles Total||Manhattan Total
Our week 7 match featured an interdivison showdown against the LA Vibe. These interdivision matches carry a new twist: the division that does best in the interdivision weeks will obtain an extra 4th playoff spot for their division. As mentioned, going into this match we were in 4th place so a win would be only useful for our chances in moving to 3rd, but also to potentially make the 4th slot valuable as well.
It was clear from the outset that this match was going to be anything but easy. The Vibe came in sporting a very solid line up feautring two International Masters on the top 2 boards, and FM Michael Casella on board 4 who had been mowing down the competition with an impressive 5-0 score. Meanwhile due to the unavailability of several players on our team we were forced to field a slightly weaker line up than usual (avg rating 2361 as opposed to 2414 for week 6). Nevertheless I believed that if we were able to make the most of our chances then this was still a match we could win.
Joining us for the first time this season was SM Ryan Goldenberg who had a monster year in 2013, placing near the top of the MVP rankings and earning 1st Team All-Star honors on board 4. If he would able to defeat his lower rated opponent, NM Nicky Korba, then it would appear that battle of the IMs would have to go to our favor in order to balance the disadvantage of board 4.
However things took a surprising turn as our manager Shaun Smith's game against FM Casella was the first to finish.