USCL Week 3 recap
NJ was hit with yet another disappointment on Wednesday, as we fell to the Boston Blitz by the score of 1.5-2.5. Mark LaRocca turned out to be right in the end :(
In an echo of week 2, the match looked to be going quite well early on. GM Gulko had a sizable advantage on board 1 in a reversed Sicilian Dragon formation, Wu was already winning (though work still had to be done) on board 4, and I was maybe slightly better on board 3. Even with Kapengut's miserable position on board 2, it looked like we had good winning chances and certainly shouldn't lose the match.
But as so often happens in the USCL, this all changed in an instant. Esserman's creative play paid off and GM Gulko blundered the game away, leaving us in a very difficult spot as Kapengut's position was also slowly disintigrating. It was clear that NJ needed a miracle just to survive the match, which simply didn't happen. Kudos to Boston for a well-played match.
This devastating loss above essentially sealed our fate for this match. Below Sevian shows an excellent positional victory over IM Kapengut, creating a permanent structural weakness out of the opening and squeezing until Black's position cracked.
Kapengut's loss meant that Boston needed only a draw to seal the match, which Shmelov was never in any serious danger of not achieving.
Wu's win, which gave NJ their first point on board 4 of the season, was insufficient to save the match and NJ fell 1.5-2.5.
There was only one saving grace to this match. This week featured inter-divisional play, and so there was a chance that despite losing the other teams in our division might not extend their lead by very much. Fortunately that's exactly what happened, as only Manhattan was able to make any headway this week with a draw against Baltimore. With the Northeast division dominating the week, little was done to clarify the standings. This means that NJ, despite being just .5/3, is still within a match of first place in the division.
So for now we hope to forget this match as quickly as possible, and look ahead to inter-conference play next week, where we play against the Los Angeles Vibe.
Until next time (which might be in a couple hours if I'm not lazy), thanks to our sponsors PokerStars and chess.com, and we'll be ready for next Tuesday.
No puzzles this week due to lack of high-quality puzzles and little interest, along with the fact that I'm posting this about an hour before next week's pairings go up. Express your outrage if you want puzzles next week :P
Correction: My last article incorrectly referred to Ryan Goldenberg as the "highest board 4 in the league". This was possibly true over the first 2 weeks, but Peter Minear of Philadelphia seems to have claimed that honor with a monumental 2385 rating. The intended statement was "one of the highest board 4s in the league".