USCL Week 3 Wrapup
Parity in the East and runaway trains in the West - the third week of the U.S. Chess League (USCL) season further differentiated the way the two conferences are shaping up.
All three undefeated Western Conference teams - the Sharks, Destiny and Mechanics - won again on Tuesday to go to 3-0, while no team in the Eastern Conference can claim the same. In the Atlantic Division, no team even has a winning record.
The Carolina Cobras (0-3) failed to get off the shneid when they lost a close battle to the still-perfect San Francisco (3-0) squad. Board one GM Jesse Kraai survived a back-and-forth affair to overcome the resources of IM Jonathan Schroer.
The win secured the victory for the Mechanics, who are tied with Connecticut for the best individial game record in the league (75 percent). The Cobras are now a combined 0-6 on the top two boards thus far this season.
Miami continues to benefit from moving GM Julio Becerra to board two. He transitioned a knight sandwhich on the d-file to a first-rank invasion, and eventually won as Black against the L.A. Vibe's IM Andranik Matikozyan. The effort is a Game of the Week nominee.
Becerra moved to a personal 2.5/3, and got himself back in his usual position of contending for another league MVP award.
GM Julio Beccera
The Sharks went on to with the match 3-1 to remain unblemished at 3-0. The Vibe fell to 1-2.
Keeping pace with Miami was Dallas (3-0), who beat the winless Arizona Scorpions (0.5-2.5). The Destiny have won all their of their matches 2.5-1.5, thanks to the strength of going 3-0 by their GMs on the top board.
St. Louis (1-2) got the final win from Tuesday, as Jacob Wilkins navigated the minefield of an unpredictable exchange down ending. He won the weekly upset prize by marshaling his queenside pawns to paydirt against the Sluggers' WFM Megan Lee.
Week three upset winner Jacob Wilkins
"We all know Jacob is underrated," Archbishops' GM Ben Finegold said. "We're not surprised he beat an Expert."
The game was the last to finish and spoiled the efforts of IM Giorgi Orlov, who beat a GM as Black for the second week in a row to take the early lead in the MVP race. Seattle (0.5-2.5) still has not found a way to get their lone grandmaster in the lineup (GM Timur Gareev). The defending champions still seek their first match win.
Connecticut's strong team in the inaugural season couldn't push them into the playoffs, so they beefed up this season with the addition of longtime American GM Michael Rohde and longtime USCL player IM Jay Bonin. They both won this week, pushing the Dreadnoughts to 2.5-0.5 and dropping Philadelphia to 1-2.
Rohde channeled the Colossus of Rhodes in creating his own Greek masterpiece, good for a Game of the Week nomination.
The New York - New England matchup did a lot to clarify both divisions in the Eastern Conference. The win on board four, the only decisive game in the match, allowed the Nor'easters (2.5-0.5) to keep pace with Connecticut in the Northeast Division, while the Knights (1.5-1.5) came back to the field with their first loss on the year.
Boston (2-1) is not far behind, thanks to wins on the top two boards. IM Marc Esserman beat GM Boris Gulko in a reverse Sicialian Dragon setup, and netted the final Game of the Week nomination.
IM Marc Esserman
Manhattan and Baltimore played the only tied match of week three. The Applesauce (1.5-1.5) are now tied with the Knights, while the Kingfishers (0.5-2.5) are a distant fourth in the young season.