The season could not have started better for the Scorpions! I have not played in the USCL in several years now, but I have been the TD for the Dallas Destiny and I frequently attend their matches as a spectator. I have to say it was almost heavenly to play a game of online chess without the myriad of technical difficulties that plagues the room in the University of Texas at Dallas that the Destiny plays in. Kudos to our manager, Leo, for the excellent playing conditions!
The games started promptly at 6:00 pm Arizona time, and the first few minutes saw almost no surprises. I opened with a Catalan, as was predicted by the unimaginably strong FM Elliot Liu in a previous blog post, Robby saw a Rauzer Sicilian sitting next to me (though he was board 3) and across the room I could see Lev playing a Hungarian defense, which very much suits his style. I have known both Lev and the legendary Wavemaster for quite some time, so I knew that they were very much in their comfort zone. I am still quite unfamiliar with the style of our 4th board, David Adelberg. However, he made me feel really, really old around 15 minutes into the match; while Mitkov and I were intensely strategizing, trying to find the best spots for our pieces in a closed boring Catalan, David and his opponent Magness had blitzed off 18 moves, both were in mating nets and David had an extra piece for two pawns.
Let’s go into more detail on the games:
Crazy. These kind of games should only be played by the young and the brave. And the ones who study. White deviated with 17. Rd2?! As opposed to the normal line 17. Qxg7, which is apparently about equal. Not that I know anything about the line, its just what Rybka is telling me. Both players got lost in the sea of variations, and made several mistakes, but Adelberg promptly took advantage of his opponents bad play and got a winning position, and after a slight setback was able to comfortably convert his extra piece in an endgame.
After Robby survived his typical pre-game meltdown, which includes nervousness, copious amounts of soda and a few hours debating what to play on move one, he managed to get a very comfortable position right out of the opening. His strong bishop on h5 and the set of weaknesses on the kingside gave him strong attacking ideas, and the subsequent rook lift to the key square h5 hammered in his spatial domination. After the awkward retreat Na7, and the board dominating maneuver Qb3! it was all downhill for black; Robby won a nice positional Sicilian crush. Unfortunately, Robby missed the dirty move 40. Rc7!!, which I bet he would’ve found with some more time on the clock and would’ve won him the brilliancy prize.
SUPER EXCITING GAME! MUST WATCH! GO TO ICC AND SEE IT NOW!
My own game against Mitkov was relatively interesting. I’m happy how my preparation turned out, as I got a nice edge out of the opening and my opponent never had any real counterattack. I held the initiative all the way to time trouble, and found the very nice resource 30. Qxb6!! Of course, after Nikola’s response 30…exf4 white’s attack is crushing, but even after the more tenacious 30… Nd4 white replies 31. Nxg6+!! with the idea of hxg6, Qxd6, Rxd6 and Rc8+! Forcing the h pawn to queen. I’m sad I couldn’t play this on the board, but to be honest I hadn’t yet seen this resource when I went for Qb6, I played it on the intuitive guess that “something had to be there”. Black’s position looked so shaky!
Overall the games were very hard fought, and absolute concentration was required from all of our boards, some of them going down to nothing but a few seconds per player. However, Arizona was superior throughout the match. It’s a nice feeling when a team not only wins, but wins because they played well. Awesome job Scorpions!
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