USCL Week 2 Wrapup
Nearly every match in week two of the United States Chess League (USCL) produced a winner, as seven teams got the better end of the four-game contests.
Three teams remained perfect; they are all from the Western Conference. Miami and Dallas in the South Division and San Francisco in the Pacific Division are the only teams that sit at 2-0.
The schedule this year pits proximate rivals more than in past years, and there are no two teams closer than the New York Knights and Manhattan Applesauce (but the two teams in Boston are close!). The 35 blocks between them is all the divides the chess island of Manhattan. The Knights retained their historical edge over the Midtowners, winning 3.5-0.5 to push their all-time advantage to 6-3.
GM Pascal Charbonneau rebounded from his individual loss last week to take out GM Robert Hungaski. The win partially avenges Charbonneau's playoff loss to Hungaski in 2010. It was the Knights' grandmaster's first win in the USCL since midway through the 2011 season, and it also is a Game of the Week Nominee.
Last year's finalist Philadelphia Inventors were supposed to sputter with the loss of their top player, but don't tell them that. They scored the upset of the week by taking out the New Jersey Knockouts. FM Dov Gorman, last year's Board Three First Team All-Star, moved up to board one and promptly drew without difficulty against GM Joel Benjamin.
Two more draws on boards two and three meant FM Karl Dehmelt's win over young NM Praveen Balakrishnan decided the match 2.5-1.5 for Philadelphia. The talented Balakrishnan has now lost five consecutive games in the league.
In the battle for I-95, the Boston Blitz and Connecticut Dreadnoughts played to the week's only 2-2 deadlock.
SM Steven Winer's return to chess and introduction to the USCL has been going quite smoothly. After a draw in week one, his win this week over higher-rated IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat helped the New England Nor'easters slip past the Baltimore Kingfishers 2.5-1.5. He can thank his bishop's dominance over the Black counterpart for the Game of the Week nomination.
Carolina again struggled against the grandmasters, as GM Cristian Chirila's win led Dallas to a 2.5-1.5 win. The Destiny's two top boards spoiled an early Cobra's win on board four and an unlikely hold on board three. The Cobras are now 0-3 this year against GM opposition.
The big muscle in St. Louis-Miami didn't settle anything, as two GMs drew on board one and three-time League MVP (GM Julio Becerra) drew the reigning MVP (IM Priyadharshan Kannappan) on board two. The match was won by the Sharks on board three when FM Eric Rodriguez overcame a 100-point rating deficit to spoil IM Vitaly Neimer's first-ever game in the USCL. The spirited attack took took the final Game of the Week nomination.
In other action, IM Daniel Naroditsky won for the second week in a row to help the Mechanics take the venom out of the Scorpions, 3.5-0.5. He has the early lead for League MVP.