Week 2: Baltimore vs. New England
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This week I'm ripping off a number of better writers by going with a "Best and Worst" format. I've also learned how to post diagrams.
Best: Dynamic opening play
Dave Vigorito, playing Board 1, shattered Levan Bregadze's queenside in the opening. But instead of passively defending his weak pawns, Bregadze offered to sacrifice them while wheeling his knight and rook to strong squares. Very creative... probably Black should have played ..Nf6-e4-c5 at some point, because White seemed to get an edge in the game.
Worst: Suprise premove
The spectators were surprised by 37..Qd2??, and so was Dave -- he thought he had put the queen on e2, but in fact had accidentally premoved by clicking the d2 square. To be fair, Bregadze was winning anyway.
Best: Getting your own back eight years after the fact
Steve Winer played very well again, defeating Tegshsuren Enkhbat in a USCL rematch from 2005. Enkhbat never got to play his thematic ..c6-c5 break, leaving Steve with a dream position that he duly converted.
Worst: Weird counterplay
After the game, Steve told me he had been worried about 25..e5!?, with the following sequence in mind:
White can keep the advantage here with 31.Ra6 c5 32.Bb5, but as a practical try this might have been interesting (i.e., 32..Rc2!?). In the game, Black allowed Bxa4 followed by b3, and was eventually ground down.
Best: A draw is okay when you've lost 70 games in a row
I was paired against Jared Defibaugh on Board 3. Last year, Defibaugh beat GM Azarov, and claimed several big-name scalps in the USCL. My year was... not as successful (-90 points and counting). So it was something of a relief to get the queens off on move 9, even if the resulting endgame was a little sterile.
Worst: I can't offer a draw before move 25?
This game livened up a little near the end, but a quick check with the computer shows that neither player was in any danger of winning.
Best: Random piece placement
Andrew Liu must be pretty good at Chess960. His pieces looked like they were randomly thrown on the board in this game, but somehow they all coordinated well. Ben Krause sacrificed a piece for what looked like decent practical compensation, but couldn't drum up enough threats in the end.
It's weird, but everything seems covered.
Worst: Time Pressure
Maybe this should be a best, as it certainly worked in our favor for this game. With more time Krause might have been able to organize his attack, but he was essentially playing on increment from move 20 or so.
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That was Week 2. Next week we play New York, who somehow managed to land an FM on Board 4 at a < 2100 rating. Great.