Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Week 2 Preview

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Carolina Cobras
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2450) - IM Kassa Korley (2486)
GM Larry Kaufman (2405) - NM Ilker Bozkurt (2383)
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - NM Kevin Mo (2334)
NM Andrew Zheng (2208) - FM Robin Cunningham (2268)

Wednesday, 7:20 PM EDT
Time Control: 75 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Baltimore Kingfishers and the Carolina Cobras square-off in a USCL Southern Division match. Both teams have played in all 10 seasons of the US Chess League. Both teams also come into this match with the same 0.0-1.0 season record with 1.5/4.0 games points. The all-time series between these two teams is tied up at 4.5-4.5 with Baltimore holding the slimmest possible margin in game points at 18.5-17.5. These two teams last played in Week 7, 2011, a match that ended in a draw. Three Baltimore players (IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat, GM Larry Kaufman, and NM Jared Defibaugh) and 1 Carolina player (IM Kassa Korley) from that match return to play in this match.

Board 1: IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat vs. IM Kassa Korley. IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat will begin his 10th season, having played a team record 67 career games for Baltimore. His record last year was (+1 =3 -3) for a 2339 performance rating. He has also scored (+3 =2 -3) in his career against Carolina. His opponent, IM Kassa Korley, is playing his 3rd season for the Carolina Cobras. IM Kassa Korley won last week on Board 1 with the white pieces against SM Deepak Aaron of the Atlanta Kings for a 2846 performance rating. He did not play in the USCL last year. He has a (+1) record against Baltimore. Also, note these two players met on Board 2 in Week 7, 2011 with a then-FM Kassa Korley winning with the white pieces.

Board 2: NM Ilker Bozkurt vs. GM Larry Kaufman. NM Ilker Bozkurt is participating in his first USCL season. He drew FM Kazim Gulamali of the Atlanta Kings on Board 3 with the white pieces for a 2397 performance rating. He will face GM Larry Kaufman, who is another Baltimore player starting his 10th USCL season. GM Larry Kaufman has 54 career games played with Baltimore and a (+3 =2 -1) record against Carolina. He had a tough season last year with a (=1 -3) record and a 2156 performance rating.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Kevin Mo. NM Jared Defibaugh, a 5 season veteran with 29 career games played for Baltimore, drew last week on Board 3 with the black pieces against WGM Anna Sharevich of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. That starts him off with a 2367 performance rating this season. He has scored (+1 =1) against Carolina in his career. He will battle NM Kevin Mo, who is playing his 2nd season for Carolina. NM Kevin Mo lost last week on Board 4 with the black pieces against NM Richard Francisco of the Atlanta Kings for a 1982 performance rating. Last year, he had a (-4) record with a 2083 performance rating, so he is still looking to score his first point in the USCL.

Board 4: FM Robin Cunningham vs. NM Andrew Zheng. FM Robin Cunningham will debut in his 2nd season for the Carolina Cobras. He recorded a (+1 =5 -1) season last year for a 2308 performance rating. On the other side of the board will be NM Andrew Zheng, playing in his 2nd year with only 2 career games played. NM Andrew Zheng won last week on Board 4 with the white pieces against Jacob Wilkins of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. He begins the season with a 2309 performance rating.

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?


Update: Added career records against opposing team when available.

Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Friday, August 29, 2014

2014 Week 1 Review

St. Louis Arch Bishops vs. Baltimore Kingfishers 2.5-1.5
GM Le Quang Liem (2785) - GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2603) 1-0 View Game
GM Varuzhan Akobian (2758) - IM Levan Bregadze (2530) 1-0 View Game
WGM Anna Sharevich (2367) - NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) 0.5-0.5 View Game
Jacob Wilkins (1909) - NM Andrew Zheng (2208) 0-1 View Game

Note: Players in italic had the white pieces.


The St. Louis Arch Bishops defeated the Baltimore Kingfishers with a 2.5-1.5 score. St. Louis scored wins on Boards 1 and 2 while Baltimore could only counter with a win on Board 4. St. Louis begins the season tied for first (2nd on tiebreak) in the Southern Division, and Baltimore is in the 4th spot (of 6) in the Southern Division. These two teams will have a rematch in Week 6 on September 30th.

Board 1: GM Le Quang Liem vs. GM Niclas Huschenbeth. The top board began with a Nimzo-Indian Defense: Nimzo-Queen's Indian Hybrid. The novelty was 14... Ne5, played by GM Niclas Huschenbeth. Black tried to slowly open up the queenside, seemingly underestimating how fast white's kingside attack would come. GM Le Quang Liem busted open black's king position, which allowed him to transition to cleaning up the queenside pawns. GM Huschenbeth held on to try some back-rank mate swindles, but resigned after those attempts were parried.

Board 2: IM Levan Bregadze vs. GM Varuzhan Akobian. The second board started with a Reti Opening: Advance Variation that transformed into what looked like a reverse-Blumenfeld's Gambit. GM Varuzhan Akobian played the novelty 8... b6. The critical moment of the game came after 20... Bxf3 when IM Levan Bregadze played the inferior move 21. b6 (as opposed to 21. c6; See analysis board below) and GM Akobian countered with 21... Nxb6. The game was slightly better for black after that sequence, but white may have had chances to hold a draw. However, black managed to keep an extra pawn and eventually cleared the way for his passed e-pawn to advance when white resigned.

Board 3: WGM Anna Sharevich vs. NM Jared Defibaugh. Board 3 exhibited with a Grunfeld Defense: Exchange Variation with 7. Ba3. NM Jared Defibaugh mentioned after the match that he saw WGM Anna Sharevich had several games with this move. They were following one of WGM Sharevich's games up until she varied from it with 12. Be2. After that, they were still following a couple games by GM Svidler (as black in both games) with one game against St. Louis' first board in this match, GM Le Quang Liem (Check out the analysis board below). The novelty was played by NM Defibaugh with 15... Re8. While the game lasted 73 moves and looked dangerous for black toward the end, the game never strayed far from equality. It ended as a draw by repetition.

Board 4: NM Andrew Zheng vs. Jacob Wilkins. The final board of the match saw another Nimzo-Indian Defense though this time, it was a Rubinstein variation (4.e3) with 4... b6. NM Andrew Zheng played the novely 10. Rb1. White slowly gained space with his pawns until he was able to break open the queenside and even win a pawn. Then, the game revolved around whether the passed d-pawn could march to promotion. The game nearly slipped away from white as black had some surprising drawing chances near the end. The game actually ended as Jacob Wilkins forfeited on time in a position where it was clear NM Zheng had sewn up the game. The final position is technically a mate in 6 (various lines) for white.


To conclude this week's review, note that two players (GM Le Quang Liem and WGM Anna Sharevich) secured their first points in the USCL, and two players (GM Le Quang Liem and NM Andrew Zheng) scored their first victory in the USCL.

Next week, Baltimore plays the Carolina Cobras on Wednesday, September 3rd starting at 7:20 EDT.


Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Week 1 Preview

St. Louis Arch Bishops vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
GM Le Quang Liem (2785) - GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2603)
GM Varuzhan Akobian (2758) - IM Levan Bregadze (2530)
WGM Anna Sharevich (2367) - NM Jared Defibaugh (2325)
Jacob Wilkins (1909) - NM Andrew Zheng (2208)

Wednesday, 8:00 PM EDT
Time Control: 75 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.

The Baltimore Kingfishers and the St. Louis Arch Bishops begin their seasons in the newly-minted Southern Division of the US Chess League. Baltimore, having been in the USCL since its inaugural season, will be starting their 10th season while St. Louis will begin their 5th season. St. Louis leads the all-time series against Baltimore with a 1-0 match score. These two teams last played in Week 2, 2012 when St. Louis completed a rare 4-0 sweep. There are two returning players, GM Niclas Huschenbeth and IM Levan Bregadze, from that last match but with a twist as IM Bregadze has switched teams from St. Louis to Baltimore.

Board 1: GM Le Quang Liem vs. GM Niclas Huschenbeth. GM Le Quang Liem makes his USCL debut for the St. Louis Arch Bishops. He is currently the 2nd highest FIDE-rated player in the USCL. Challenging him will be GM Niclas Huschenbeth, who is playing in his 3rd USCL season. He went (+1 =1 -2) last season.

Board 2: IM Levan Bregadze vs. GM Varuzhan Akobian. IM Levan Bregadze faces off against his former team for the first time. He scored (+1 =4 -1) for the Baltimore Kingfishers last year and he will also be playing in his 3rd season. Meanwhile his opponent, GM Varuzhan Akobian, went (+3 =2 -2) in the previous season. He will start his 5th year in the USCL and 2nd year with St. Louis.

Board 3: WGM Anna Sharevich vs. NM Jared Defibaugh. WGM Anna Sharevich is another St. Louis player who will be making her USCL debut in this match. This debut is a long time coming as she was named to St. Louis' 2012 roster, but never played. Her opponent, NM Jared Defibaugh, will begin his 5th season with Baltimore. He managed a (+2 =3 -4) score last season.

Board 4: NM Andrew Zheng vs. Jacob Wilkins. NM Andrew Zheng will be playing in his 2nd USCL season. NM Zheng is the 8th-highest-rated 12-year-old in the United States as of the August rating list. He drew his only USCL game last year. Facing him will be Jacob Wilkins, who scored (+1 =3 -2) for a performance rating 200+ points above his current rating in his first season last year.

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Week 10 Review

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Boston Blitz 1-3
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2610) - IM Steven Zierk (2543) 0-1 View Game
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2492) - SM Denys Shmelov (2465) 0-1 View Game
NM Jared Defibaugh (2297) - NM Vadim Martirosov (2349) 0-1 View Game
Jeffrey Chang (2116) - NM Daniil Mosiyenko (2181) 1-0 View Game

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.

The Baltimore Kingfishers lost 1-3 to the Boston Blitz in the final week of the regular season. Baltimore finishes 4th in the Northeast Division with a (3.5-6.5) match record while Boston places 3rd with a (4.5-5.5) record. In other divisional news, the New England Nor'easters and Connecticut Dreadnoughts drew their match, so New England (7.0-3.0, 1st) will get draw odds while Connecticut (6.5-3.5, 2nd) gets color choice in their Quarterfinals showdown.

Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. IM Steven Zierk. The top board showcased a Sveshnikov Sicilian Defense: Chelyabinsk variation. White offered the h-pawn which black accepted and a trade of rooks from diagonally-opposite corners ensued. GM Niclas Huschenbeth played the surprising resource 18. Ne3 as the novelty. Then, queens were traded and white was left with an extra knight for two pawns. Although the queens were off, it was a very interesting game with black creating a 5-pawn-wall from the kingside to the center after move 31 and clearly aiming to march the h-pawn to promotion. Meanwhile, white tried to nurse a long-term advantage with his queenside pawns. It seems white should have been better until the dual-mistakes 33. a3? and 34. axb4? which cost white his bishop to stop the black h-pawn. IM Steven Zierk pounced on the opportunity and easily converted the ending up only an exchange. White resigned after move 50.

Board 2: SM Denys Shmelov vs. IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat. The second board featured a Slav Defense: Chebanenko variation. IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat played the novelty 10... Nhf6 whereas 10... Bg6 had been played twice before resulting in draws (Note: Two of the stem games coincidentally feature former Dallas players, GM Valentin Iotov and IM Puchen Wang). Black tried to open up the queenside to play with 12... b6 but this plan seemed to backfire as SM Denys Shmelov chased away the black queen and exploited the c-file with his rooks. From that point onward, white was clearly better though black tried to drum up an attack on the kingside. However, NM Shmelov's control of the board was too great and black resigned on move 41.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Vadim Martirosov. The third board saw NM Jared Defibaugh's King's Gambit answered with the Falkbeer Counter-Gambit by NM Vadim Martirosov. The move 4. Bc4 is very rarely played for such an early move, so NM Defibaugh was probably trying to avoid theory in this game. He later played the novelty 7. Bb5+. White returned the counter-gambit pawn on d4 and the queens were traded. The two players castled on opposite sides but play was focused in the center with black trying to bolster his passed e-pawn. White missed a surprising chance on move 23 to get compensation by allowing the e-pawn to promote while taking a rook with check (!) though black would have to give up a knight as well. Two pawns for the exchange and the result would have still been unclear. Soon after, it was black who missed a clear win on move 25, but all was not lost as white was still in a bind due to black's pawn on e2. NM Martirosov did not miss another chance and converted to a won ending with an extra bishop. White resigned after 42 moves.

Board 4: NM Daniil Mosiyenko vs. Jeffrey Chang. The fourth board began with another sharp Sicilian Defense, but this time, it was the Classical Main Line of the Najdorf variation. These two young players zipped through theory nearly until Jeffrey Chang played the novelty 18... Nf6. Note that one of the stem games was played by GM Niclas Huschenbeth, who was playing on Board 1 in this match. I have to seriously wonder if Jeffrey knew this game while playing as he first sank into deep thought when NM Daniil Mosiyenko varied from that game on move 18 and both endings had similar ideas. I am only aware that Jeffrey is being coached by GM Larry Kaufman, not GM Huschenbeth! Despite being down a pawn out of this opening line, black seemed to have a solid position with plenty of control. When it came down to a pawn race, black's kingside pawns were much faster than white's queenside pawns. It also helped that black ended up with a bishop vs. knight in the ending. There was a bailout to a drawn rook and bishop vs. rook and pawn ending that white missed, but practically, that ending would still be difficult to hold. Thus, Jeffrey Chang won his USCL debut in 61 moves.

Finally, in Baltimore's Team MVP standings, Jeffrey Chang tied FM Ralph Zimmer for the lead with 3.5 MVP points though FM Zimmer wins the title (on most games played tie-break) for the second year in a row. Thanks to everyone for playing, watching the games, reading articles, and voting in polls. We look forward to a great season next year!

Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Week 10 Lineup

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Boston Blitz
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2610) - IM Steven Zierk (2543)
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2492) - SM Denys Shmelov (2465)
NM Jared Defibaugh (2297) - NM Vadim Martirosov (2349)
Jeffrey Chang (2116) - NM Daniil Mosiyenko (2181)

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

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.

The Baltimore Kingfishers (3.5-5.5, 4th place) and the Boston Blitz (3.5-5.5, 3rd) square-off to determine 3rd place in the Northeast Division. Boston leads Baltimore 16-15 in total game points this season for the first tie-break. Neither team can make the playoffs, so it will be the last game of the year for both teams. Boston leads the all-times series against Baltimore with a 7-6 match score. These two teams last played in Week 5, 2013 when all boards were drawn. Three players (IM Tegshsuren Enkbat, SM Denys Shmelov, and NM Vadim Martirosov) from that last match return to play in this match as well.

Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. IM Steven Zierk. GM Niclas Huschenbeth is (+1 =1 -1) in his 2nd USCL season and has not played against Boston previously. He drew last week with the white pieces against GM Mikheil Kekelidze of the Connecticut Dreadnoughts on Board 1. He is matched up with IM Steven Zierk, who is (+1 -1) in his 3rd USCL season but has not played against Baltimore in his career. He won last week with the white pieces against GM Alexander Ivanov of the New England Nor'easters on Board 1.

Board 2: SM Denys Shmelov vs. IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat. SM Denys Shmelov is (+2 =5 -1) in his 6th season and has a (+1 =3 -1) record against Baltimore. The only match he has not played this year was Week 7 when Boston played the San Francisco Mechanics. He won last week with the black pieces against FM Charles Riordan of the New England Nor'easters on Board 2. He is rematched with IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat, who has a (+1 =3 -2) record in his 9th season and has scored (+2 =3 -3) against Boston in his career. IM Enkhbat last played in Week 8 when he drew with the white pieces against FM Steven Winer of the New England Nor'easters on Board 2. SM Shmelov and IM Enkhbat played against one another in a drawn game from Week 5, 2013.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Vadim Martirosov. NM Jared Defibaugh is (+2 =3 -3) in his 4th season and has a (+2) score against Boston. The only match he did not play this year was Week 5 when Baltimore played against the Boston Blitz. He lost last week with the white pieces against FM Leif Pressman of the Connecticut Dreadnoughts on Board 3. He will battle NM Vadim Martirosov, who is (+2 =2 -1) in his 7th USCL season and has a (=6 -1) record against Baltimore. He won in Week 8 with the black pieces against IM Jay Bonin of the Connecticut Dreadnoughts on Board 3. NM Defibaugh and NM Martirosov also played against one another with the same colors in Week 10, 2012 when NM Defibaugh won.

Board 4: NM Daniil Mosiyenko vs. Jeffrey Chang. NM Daniil Mosiyenko is making his season debut for the Boston Blitz. He played 3 games in 2011 with a (+1 =1 -1) record for Boston. Opposite him will be Jeffrey Chang, who is making his USCL debut for the Baltimore Kingfishers. As of the October USCF Rating list, he is the 22nd ranked 15-year-old in the country.

Catch the games live on chess.com and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls to the right!

Reposted at: Chess.com blogs