USCL Week 2 recap

Sep 10, 2014, 11:30 AM |

The Knockouts drew their second match with the Philadelphia Inventors, a result that is fairly disappointing as we had them significantly outmatched on paper. Our woes on the bottom boards continue, with both boards 3 and 4 going to Philadelphia (though not without mouseslip aid). It took late game heroics by NJ star GM Alexander Stripunsky to avoid a full disaster. 

The first game to finish was a crush by GM Joel Benjamin over Peter Minear. With a huge rating edge and the white pieces, this didn't look like it would be much of a contest on paper, and it didn't look like much of a contest over the board either:

This gave NJ the early lead, but the result of the match was hardly clear. With all three of the other boards in complicated positions, all three results were still well within reason. Next up was the board 4 contest between Haik der Manuelian and Todd Bryant. Unfortunately, after a strong start Haik slowly lost the thread, stumbling into an equal, then a slightly worse, then a completely lost position to allow Philly to even the score.

With the result of the top board very much in doubt and the third board heading towards equality, it looked like the match would rest, again, on GM Stripunsky's shoulders. However, a late game mouseslip by Chris put him in serious trouble, and he was unable to find accurate defensive moves in time pressure. 

This put Philadelphia ahead 2-1 and on the verge of pulling off a huge upset, but GM Stripunsky was having none of it. IM Bartell showed up with excellent preparation to reach a significantly better position from the opening, which he followed up quite well to put himself in great position to pull off what would surely be the upset of the week. Fortunately for NJ, an oversight left the situation progressively more complicated, which white was unable to adapt to accurately. GM Stripunsky continued with scary accuracy and brought home the match-saving full point. Did anyone expect anything different?

Although the match draw is undoubtedly a disappointing result, avoiding the 0-2 start is a nice glass half full situation. With Philadelphia significantly overperforming their apparent strength (with their win last night, they may very well be leading the division after tonight!), this was certainly a night that could have ended in a much bigger disaster. 

Our next match will be against the Atlanta Kings, starting tonight (Wednesday 9/10) at 7:15 PM (Eastern time). We'll have a preview article up in a couple hours, so stay tuned for that as well :)

-Alexander Katz