USCL Week 4 Wrapup
In a week of East versus West in the United States Chess League (USCL), both conferences took wins in four of the eight matches, but the West has the only two undefeated, untied teams in the league.
In Tuesday's matches, the New York Knights (season record 2.5-1.5) took back sole possession of the Atlantic Division in the East when they gave the San Francisco Mechanics (3-1) their first blemish of the season. Newcomers to the Knights - FM Akshat Chandra and NM Alex King - got it done on the lower boards to push their team to victory.
By virtue of the 2.5-1.5 win, and the Manhattan Applesauce's (1.5-2.5) loss by the same margin against Arizona (1.5-2.5), the Knights are back in first.
The Scorpions' win was their first of the season, despite their board three individual score falling to 0-4. IM Levon Altouinan had all kinds of pretty mating nets formed against IM Eli Vovsha's passive army. The win was good for a Game of the Week nomination:
The Applesauce actually fell all the way to third place. They were leapfrogged by the Philadelphia Inventors (2-2), who exacted revenge for the 2012 USCL Finals by beating the Seattle Sluggers (0.5-3.5).
FM Tom Bartell is one of the strongest FIDE Masters in the league. Here he dispatches his grandmaster opponent in a King's Indian, giving the Sluggers their first loss on board one this year and giving him a Game of the Week nomination.
The defending champions are reeling and are still looking for their first match win of the season. GM Emil Anka is also trying to get on track in his first USCL season.
New Jersey (1.5-2.5) also got themselves back in the mix in the Atlantic Division. Despite notching their first win of the season over the L.A. Vibe (1-3), the Knockouts are tied with Manhattan and only a half-game behind a playoff spot.
The GM versus GM battle on board one netted a Game of the Week nomination, as GM Alex Stripunsky sacrificed a piece for a flotilla of pawns. The third and final Game of the Week nomination means that all three games are from Wednesday's groupings.
Both undefeated teams, Miami and Dallas, entered Wednesday's action with perfect scores. They both remained that way at night's end.
The first game of the night to finish was FM Sam Sevian's deep theoretical debate with GM Julio Becerra in the Open Ruy Lopez. Black got a queen, but White forced a repetition. That would be the only score of the night for the Blitz, as the Sharks took the other three games en route to a dominant 3.5-0.5 evening.
The Destiny kept pace in the South Division, albeit in a closer match. They edged the Baltimore 2.5-1.5 thanks to wins over the Kingfisher's two grandmasters. The Destiny moved to 4-0 on board one this season thanks to GM Conrad Holt's win, while board two saw the relatively rare situation where an FM (Jeffery Xiong) was actually a significant rating favorite over a GM (Larry Kaufman).
FM Jeffery Xiong
New England (3.5-0.5) broke the deadlock in the Northeast Division by using rating advantages on all four boards to dispatch Carolina (0-4), while pre-round co-leader Connecticut (2.5-1.5) faltered against St. Louis (2-2). The Archbishops have won their last two matches but are in the unenviable divisional race with both Dallas and Miami.