Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Week 9 Preview

Boston Blitz vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
IM Steven Zierk (2543) - GM Akshayraj Kore (2543)
FM Denys Shmelov (2473) - IM Levan Bregadze (2530)
NM Chris Williams (2310) - FM Alex Barnett (2330)
NM Ilya Krasik (2264) - NM Andrew Zheng (2208)

Wednesday, 7:30 PM EDT
Time Control: 75 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Boston Blitz battle the Baltimore Kingfishers in the final interdivisional week of the season. Boston (2.5-5.5) is in 5th place in the Eastern Division while Baltimore (3.0-5.0) is in 5th place in the Southern Division. Baltimore is only a half-match-point (and 1.5 game points) behind Atlanta for the 3rd playoff spot in the Southern Division. Boston's playoff chances, however, rely on the Eastern Division winning a 4th playoff spot and being ahead of Philadelphia, who is 2.0 match points ahead of Boston, in tie-breaks. Currently, Boston leads the all-time series against Baltimore with a 8.0-6.0 match score. The last match they played occurred in Week 10, 2013 when Boston won by a 3-1 score. Two Boston players (IM Steven Zierk and FM Denys Shmelov) from that match return to play this week.

Board 1: IM Steven Zierk vs. GM Akshayraj Kore. IM Steven Zierk has a (+2 =1 -1) record with a 2667 performance rating in his 4th USCL season and 3rd season with Boston. He won his only career game against Baltimore. He won last week on Board 1 with the black pieces against IM David Vigorito of the New England Nor'easters. He will be challenged by GM Akshayraj Kore, who is (+1 -1) with a 2545 performance rating in his first season. GM Akshayraj Kore last played in Week 5 when he lost with the white pieces on Board 1 against GM Robert Hungaski of the Manhattan Applesauce.

Board 2: IM Levan Bregadze vs. FM Denys Shmelov. IM Levan Bregadze has scored (+3 -2) with a 2629 performance rating in his third USCL season and 2nd season with Baltimore. He drew his only career game against Boston. He last played in Week 6 when he lost with the black pieces on Board 2 against GM Le Quang Liem of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. His opponent, FM Denys Shmelov, is (+2 =3 -1) with a 2502 performance rating in his 7th season with Boston. He has a (+2 =3 -1) career record against Baltimore. FM Denys Shmelov drew last week with the white pieces on Board 2 against SM Mika Brattain of the New England Nor'easters.

Board 3: NM Chris Williams vs. FM Alex Barnett. NM Chris Williams returned to the Boston roster this season after a 6-year break from the USCL. He is (+2 -4) with a 2218 performance rating in his 2nd season for Boston. He lost last week with the black pieces on Board 3 against FM Steven Winer of the New England Nor'easters. He is matched against FM Alex Barnett, who will be making his USCL debut. FM Alex Barnett is known for his exciting, aggressive style of play as well as his unique commentary in his previous role as a USCL Game of the Week judge.

Board 4: NM Andrew Zheng vs. NM Ilya Krasik. NM Andrew Zheng last played in Week 6 when he won the black pieces against Jacob Wilkins of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. He is (+3 =1 -1) with a 2286 performance rating in his 2nd USCL season. Coincidentally, that is the exact same performance rating he had last season when his only game was a draw with the white pieces against this week's opponent, NM Ilya Krasik. Scoring (+2 =1 -4) in his 10th USCL season with Boston, NM Ilya Krasik has a 2138 performance rating. He won last week with the white pieces on Board 4 against NM Greg Kaden of the New England Nor'easters. He has a (+4 =2 -4) record against Baltimore in his career.

Catch the games live on ICC and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls linked below/shown to the right!
Board 1 Result? | Board 2 Result? | Board 3 Result? | Board 4 Result? | Match Result?



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Week 8 Review

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Miami Sharks 1-3
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2603) - GM Julio Becerra (2626) 0.5-0.5 View Game
GM Larry Kaufman (2391) - GM Renier Gonzalez (2510) 0.5-0.5 View Game
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - NM Federico Gonzalez (2315) 0-1 View Game
FM Ralph Zimmer (2268) - Vlad Yanovsky (2165) 0-1 View Game

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Miami Sharks defeated the Baltimore Kingfishers with a 3-1 score. Miami managed victories on the bottom two boards and drew both top boards. In the Southern Division, Miami (4.5-3.5) in match points) moved up to 2nd place while Baltimore (3.0-5.0) dropped to 5th place. With two weeks left to go in the regular season, Baltimore is a half-match-point (and 1.5 game points) behind the Atlanta Kings for the 3rd and likely final playoff spot in the Southern Division. It is still possible though very unlikely that the Southern Division earns a 4th playoff spot. Which of the three USCL Divisions earns that extra playoff spot will be determined next week with the final interdivisional match-ups of the regular season.

TRIVIA: Name the team against which Baltimore has not played for the longest amount of time.
ANSWER: Baltimore has not played the San Francisco Mechanics since Week 6, 2005.

Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. GM Julio Becerra. The top board showcased a sharp Two Knights Defense: Modern variation (5. e5). GM Niclas Huschenbeth played the novelty 17. Qxa7 and GM Julio Becerra began a scenic journey with his own queen. White seemingly won an exchange but black had a sudden attack against the surprisingly vulnerable white king. White returned a knight and pawn to relieve the pressure, resulting in a material imbalance of two white rooks for black's rook, knight, and bishop. White had a passed a-pawn, but its march was easily stopped by the black rook and bishop combination. The game ended in a threefold repetition on move 44. The game took 2nd place in the Game of the Week competition. See the judges' comments here.

Board 2: GM Renier Gonzalez vs. GM Larry Kaufman. The second board featured a Ruy Lopez: Berlin Defense (3... Nf6) with what resembled the Kaufmann variation (where white plays 5. Be3) but this game had 5. Bxc6 dxc6 inserted first. The opening variation seems to have been named after Arthur Kaufmann, an early 20th-century player, rather than our player with the black pieces. The novelty occurred relatively early with 8... Nd7 played by GM Larry Kaufman. GM Renier Gonzalez expanded slowly with the white pieces while black took a defensive position. However, the tempo of the game shifted as black played the daring break 29... g5. Then, another critical moment appeared with 35. Qf6 as it led to a bishop and rook for queen exchange in favor of black. However, black did not find the most accurate moves to press for the win, so the players drew by threefold repetition after 62 moves.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Federico Gonzalez. Board 3 displayed a Modern Benoni Defense with 7. Nge2. NM Jared Defibaugh played the novelty 12. Qd2 and soon embarked on a kingside attack. He also castled queenside and a flank attack race ensued. However, white's attack stalled and after opening up the center, he gave up a couple pawns unnecessarily. NM Federico Gonzalez took this advantage and methodically converted the rook and pawns endgame to a victory in 69 moves.

Board 4: Vlad Yanovsky vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. The fourth board exhibited a Sicilian Defense: Four Knights Variation (4... Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6) but avoided transposing into the Sveshnikov as the game continued with 6. Ndb5 Bb4. The game followed already tested lines until Vlad Yanovsky played the novelty 18. Qd2. The game looked to be headed towards a long drawish battle until FM Ralph Zimmer missed that his rook would be trapped (for a bishop) after 33... Rb5 34. Bc5 b6 35. a4. With the extra exchange, Vlad Yanovsky was able to claim a victory in 55 moves.

Note that NM Federico Gonzalez won his first career USCL game.

Next week, the Baltimore Kingfishers play the Boston Blitz on Wednesday, October 22nd at 7:30 PM EDT.



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 Week 8 Preview

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Miami Sharks
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2603) - GM Julio Becerra (2626)
GM Larry Kaufman (2391) - GM Renier Gonzalez (2510)
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - NM Federico Gonzalez (2315)
FM Ralph Zimmer (2268) - Vlad Yanovsky (2165)

Tuesday, 7:30 PM EDT
Time Control: 75 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Baltimore Kingfishers and the Miami Sharks face-off in a hotly-contested Southern Division match-up. Baltimore (3.0-4.0 in match points) is in 4th place while Miami (3.5-3.5) sits just above them in 3rd place in the Southern Division. Miami leads the all-time series with a 2-1 match score against Baltimore. Amazingly, these two original USCL teams, who battled each other in the very first week of the first USCL season as well as the first USCL Finals, have not met since Week 4, 2006. Two Baltimore players (GM Larry Kaufman and FM Ralph Zimmer) and one Miami player (GM Julio Becerra) played in that last match and will return to play in this upcoming match.

TRIVIA: Name the team against which Baltimore has not played for the longest amount of time.

Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. GM Julio Becerra. GM Niclas Huschenbeth is (=1 -1) with a 2568 performance rating in his 3rd USCL season. He last played in Week 6 when he drew with the white pieces on Board 1 against GM Wesley So of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. He has never played against Miami before he challenges GM Julio Becerra this week. Playing against GM Julio Becerra is nearly synonymous with playing against the Miami Sharks as GM Becerra recently became the first USCL player with over a hundred games played. Over his 10-year career, he has played in 101 of Miami's 111 matches played (Not counting a 2005 Miami match that was agreed drawn without playing due to a Hurricane). This season, he is (+2 =4 -1) with a 2722 performance rating. He won last week with the white pieces on Board 1 against IM David Vigorito of the New England Nor'easters. Also, he has scored (+2 -1) against Baltimore in his career.

Board 2: GM Renier Gonzalez vs. GM Larry Kaufman. GM Renier Gonzalez is (-2) with a 2217 performance rating in his 3rd season for the Miami Sharks. He last played in Week 5 with the white pieces on Board 2 against FM Yian Liou of the San Francisco Mechanics. He has not played against Baltimore previously. Meanwhile his opponent, GM Larry Kaufman, is also on a (-2) score though with a 1990 performance rating. GM Larry Kaufman has a (+2) record against Miami in his 10-year career. He played last week with the black pieces on Board 2 against IM Mark Ginsburg of the Arizona Scorpions.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Federico Gonzalez. NM Jared Defibaugh has a (+3 =2 -1) record with a 2479 performance rating in his 5th USCL season. He won last week with the white pieces on Board 3 against IM Alexey Diulger of the Arizona Scorpions. He will get his first chance to play against Miami with an opponent, NM Federico Gonzalez, who will be playing his first USCL game ever. Little information is available for NM Federico Gonzalez except for his 2315 USCF rating.

Board 4: Vlad Yanovsky vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. Vlad Yanovsky won his only game this season in Week 6 with the white pieces on Board 3 against NM Ian Harris of the Connecticut Dreadnoughts. That starts him with a 2708 performance rating in his 2nd USCL season. Also having played only one game this season, FM Zimmer lost last week with the black pieces on Board 4 against Matthew Noble of the Arizona Scorpions. That starts him off with a 1684 performance rating. Might that be the largest performance rating gap in USCL history? Also, FM Zimmer is (-1) in his career against Miami.

Catch the games live on ICC and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls linked below/shown to the right!
Board 1 Result? | Board 2 Result? | Board 3 Result? | Board 4 Result? | Match Result?



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Saturday, October 11, 2014

2014 Week 7 Review

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Arizona Scorpions 1.5-2.5
IM Tanguy Ringoir (2583) - GM Mackenzie Molner (2581) 0.5-0.5 View Game
GM Larry Kaufman (2391) - IM Mark Ginsburg (2397) 0-1 View Game
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - IM Alexey Diulger (2421) 1-0 View Game
FM Ralph Zimmer (2268) - Matthew Noble (2084) 0-1 View Game

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Arizona Scorpions defeated the Baltimore Kingfishers by a 2.5-1.5 score. Arizona managed victories on the even-numbered boards with a draw on Board 1 while Baltimore won on Board 3. Arizona (3.5-3.5 in match points) moved up to 4th place in the Western Division, and Baltimore (3.0-4.0) dropped to 4th place in the Southern Division. Currently, the Western Division leads the interdivision standings, which means there would be a 4th playoff team for the Western Division if the standings hold after Week 9.

Board 1: IM Tanguy Ringoir vs. GM Mackenzie Molner. The first board began as a Grunfeld Defense with 4. e3 Bg7 5. Qb3. GM Mackenzie Molner played 9... Ne4, deviating from a previous game from each of our two players. However, the game continued to follow a Nakamura-Caruana game until 12. a3, which was a novelty played by IM Tanguy Ringoir. Early play concentrated on how the queenside would open up. Then, a multitude of trades happened and an endgame was reached with two bishops vs. bishop and knight with 4 pawns each. White had the worse-looking side as two of his pawns were doubled and the d-pawn was unconnected. However, IM Ringoir showed those things were not actually a disadvantage as he sacrificed the d-pawn and created blockades of the black pawns. The game was agreed drawn on move 46.

Board 2: IM Mark Ginsburg vs. GM Larry Kaufman. Board 2 transposed from a Reti Opening to an English Opening: Neo-Catalan Accepted. The players followed a GM Nigel Short game played earlier this year until GM Larry Kaufman played the novelty 15... h6. Play revolved around control of the center, particularly the long diagonals, and then, both the c-file and d-file. GM Larry Kaufman made a mistake with 26... Rc8. IM Mark Ginsburg capitalized on the error and slowly, but surely converted advantage as black resigned in 54 moves.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. IM Alexey Diulger. Board 3 featured a Caro-Kann: Advance variation with 4. h4. IM Alexey Diulger played the novelty 11... Ne7 avoiding the complications of the stem game that went 11... Nxd4. NM Jared Defibaugh found the nice 21. Be5 but missed the follow-up 22. Bxf6! move. As IM Diulger was trying to squeeze out a win, he blundered into a mate in 2 by trapping his own king with 43... b4. NM Defibaugh seized the sudden victory.

Board 4: Matthew Noble vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. The fourth board showcased a Sveshnikov Sicilian. FM Ralph Zimmer played the novelty 18... a5. There were inaccuracies on both sides in the middlegame, but the final mistake was 44... Rc7. Matthew Noble quickly realized the move dropped a piece for black as the d-pawn was pinned. FM Zimmer resigned soon thereafter.

Next week, the Baltimore Kingfishers play the Miami Sharks on Tuesday, October 14th at 7:30 PM EDT.



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Monday, October 6, 2014

2014 Week 7 Preview

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Arizona Scorpions
IM Tanguy Ringoir (2583) - GM Mackenzie Molner (2581)
GM Larry Kaufman (2391) - IM Mark Ginsburg (2397)
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - IM Alexey Diulger (2421)
FM Ralph Zimmer (2268) - Matthew Noble (2084)

Wednesday, 9:00 PM EDT
Time Control: 60 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


In the third and penultimate interdivisional match of the season, the Baltimore Kingfishers play the Arizona Scorpions. Baltimore (3.0-3.0 match record) is in 2nd place in the Southern Division while Arizona (2.5-3.5) is in 5th place in the Western Division. Baltimore has won all three previous matches against Arizona. These two teams last played in Week 6, 2012 when Baltimore won by a 3-1 score. One Baltimore player (NM Jared Defibaugh) and two Arizona players (GM Mackenzie Molner and IM Mark Ginsburg) from that match return to play in this match.

The four weeks of interdivisional matches determine which of the three USCL divisions earns a 4th playoff spot. Currently, the Western Division leads the race with an (8.0-4.0) match record while the Eastern Division (7.0-5.0) remains close behind. The Southern Division sits at a dismal (3.0-9.0) record, but there is still time to catch up. See the full USCL playoff structure explanation here.

Board 1: IM Tanguy Ringoir vs. GM Mackenzie Molner. IM Tanguy Ringoir won his only USCL game thus far in Week 4 on Board 1 with the black pieces against IM Carlos Perdomo of the Atlanta Kings. That starts him off with a 2800 performance rating. He will be challenged by GM Mackenzie Molner, a 9-year veteran of the USCL playing in his 4th year with the Arizona Scorpions. GM Molner has a (+2 =1 -2) record this season with a 2651 performance rating. In his USCL career which has included stints with the New York Knights and the New Jersey Knockouts, he has a (+3 =2 -2) record against Baltimore. He drew last week with the black pieces on Board 1 against GM Jesse Kraai of the San Francisco Mechanics.

Board 2: IM Mark Ginsburg vs. GM Larry Kaufman. In his 6th USCL season, IM Mark Ginsburg is (+2 =2 -1) with a 2525 performance rating. He drew last week on Board 3 with the black pieces against FM Cameron Wheeler of the San Francisco Mechanics. He has a (=1 -1) record in his career against Baltimore including a drawn game in Week 4, 2009 with the same colors against this week's opponent, GM Larry Kaufman. GM Larry Kaufman lost his only game this season in Week 2 with the black pieces against NM Ilker Bozkurt of the Carolina Cobras for a 1983 performance rating. In his 10 seasons with the Baltimore Kingfishers, he has a (+1 =1) record against the Arizona Scorpions.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. IM Alexey Diulger. NM Jared Defibaugh has scored (+2 =2 -1) with a 2410 performance rating in his 5th USCL season. He won his only career game against Arizona. He won last week with the white pieces on Board 3 against NM Matthew Larson of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. Opposing him will be IM Alexey Diulger, who lost his only career USCL game in Week 5 with the black pieces against GM Le Quang Liem of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. That still starts IM Alexey Diulger with a relatively high 2385 performance rating.

Board 4: Matthew Noble vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. Matthew Noble is (+1 -1) in his first USCL season with a 2109 performance rating. He last played in Week 5 when he won with the black pieces on Board 4 against Julian Proleiko of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. He is set to play FM Ralph Zimmer, who is making his season debut for his 9th season with Baltimore. FM Ralph Zimmer scored (+2 =1 -1) last season with a 2337 performance rating and won his only career game against the Arizona Scorpions.

Catch the games live on ICC and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls linked below/shown to the right!
Board 1 Result? | Board 2 Result? | Board 3 Result? | Board 4 Result? | Match Result?



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs