USCL Week 7 Recap
It wasn't pretty, but we got the job done against Carolina and maintain third place in the Atlantic division. Manhattan, on the other hand, slammed down St. Louis in a 4-0 whitewash to extend their tiebreaker lead to a full 2 game points.
New York has been dominating the division since the start, but last week they suffered a setback against the Miami Sharks, dropping their lead to just half a match point over both Manhattan and us.
The match illustrated Carolina's main problems: In order to hope to draw the match, they practically must win on board 4. In order to hope to win the match, they practically must also win on board 3. When neither of those happens, it's up to their top 2 baords to try and fend off much higher rated players, which they simply have not been able to do this season.
As seems to be typical of our matches, early on it seemed like everything was going quite well. IM Kapengut on board 3 did his job and played a solid draw, while GM Benjamin and GM Gulko on the top two boards had unbalanced complicated positions - exactly what you need to outplay a weaker player. Finally, Haik der Manuelian was holding his own on the final board.
Again, the first to finish was a pretty lifeless draw between Craig Jones (CAR) and IM Kapengut (NJ):
At first glance, one might wonder why Black elected to dissolve the position into sterile equality, playing a significantly lower-rated player. The answer is that while normally Black would play something double-edged and keep the position complicated, in this team event it makes more sense to risk nothing and let your two GMs take care of business.
The next game to finish was GM Gulko getting it done against Robin Cunningham. The game started almost 40 minutes late despite both players being present at the correct time - for some reason the players had each other censored and so the server would not allow the game to begin!
It appeared that GM Benjamin was well on his way to victory, having basically smashed IM Schroer in every facet of the position. Unfortunately Joel's typical time pressure began to set in and he let Schroer off the hook in a big way, almost even losing the game.