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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Week 9 Review

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Connecticut Dreadnoughts 0.5-3.5
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2610) - GM Mikheil Kekelidze (2576) 0.5-0.5 View Games
GM Larry Kaufman (2401) - IM Justin Sarkar (2512) 0-1 View Games
NM Jared Defibaugh (2297) - FM Leif Pressman (2374) 0-1 View Games
FM Ralph Zimmer (2244) - Jason Shi (2173) 0-1 View Games

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.

The Baltimore Kingfishers lost to the Connecticut Dreadnoughts by a dreadful 3.5-0.5 score. That leaves Baltimore out of the playoffs this year with the New England Nor'easters (6.5-2.5, 1st) and Connecticut Dreadnoughts (6.0-3.0, 2nd) clinching the top 2 spots in the Northeast Division. Those two teams will battle next week to determine playoff seeding and the oft-important draw odds when they meet again in the Quarterfinals. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Kingfishers (3.5-5.5, 4th) will face the Boston Blitz (3.5-5.5, 3rd) to determine third place in the division.

Also, there was an unusual circumstance on board 3. Baltimore's player NM Jared Defibaugh was granted permission by the league to play from his home as his neighborhood was undergoing a police search for a man who shot an officer. Thankfully, the suspect has been caught, but that did not happen until the day after the match. Read more about the news story at: CBS Baltimore News.

Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. GM Mikheil Kekelidze. The top board showcased a Ruy Lopez: Open Berlin Defense, Rosenthal Variation. NM Niclas Huschenbeth played the novelty 12. g4 that proved quite risky as GM Mikheil Kekelidze was able to open the h-file to threaten the white king. It looked like white was in dire straits but somehow the white king found himself relatively safe back towards the center back rank and found himself up a knight for some pawns with queens and rooks still on the board. White seemed to have gained the upper hand and forced trades of the rooks and queens. It was a white knight and 2 pawns vs. 5 pawns for black, yet it was black who seemed to be pushing for a win again. However, white's king and knight were up to the task of blockading though no more as the game was drawn by 3-fold repetition after 64 moves.

Board 2: IM Justin Sarkar vs. GM Larry Kaufman. The second board featured a Nimzo-Indian Defense: Botvinnik System. IM Justin Sarkar played the novelty 13. Bb2 and GM Larry Kaufman responded with the very ambitious 13... e5!? intending a knight sacrifice. However, in what turned out to be the critical moment of the game, he slipped with 19... Ba6? 20. c4 Bxc4 allowing a nifty tactic that loses his queen. GM Kaufman saw the tactic immediately after playing Bxc4, and unfortunately, so did his opponent. Black resigned in 28 moves. There were some interesting possible lines in the critical position. Check them out in the board analysis!

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. FM Leif Pressman. The third board began as a Sicilian Defense with the relatively rare variation 2. Nf3 e6 3. b3. NM Jared Defibaugh played the novelty 10. Nc3. The moves 10. Na3 (7 White wins, 13 Draws, 2 Black wins) and 10. d4 (1 White win, 2 Draws) have been played previously. White tried to create an attack on the kingside, but FM Leif Pressman thwarted that plan by forcing a queen trade. Black quickly gained a space advantage as the white rooks had no clear targets. Black won a pawn and then a rook as white tried to keep chances on the board. White resigned after 47 moves.

Board 4: Jason Shi vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. The fourth board saw a Benko Gambit played. Jason Shi played the novelty 8. e5. Surprisingly, white had always played 8. Bxc4 (1 White win, 1 Draw, 6 Black wins) each time this position was reached. FM Zimmer appeared to be allowing white to gain space in the center perhaps anticipating that white would overextend himself. White did march his pawn to e6, but black missed some chances to create an unbalanced position. White gradually gained an advantage using his more mobile pieces. Black resigned on move 42.

Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 9 Lineup

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Connecticut Dreadnoughts
GM Niclas Huschenbeth (2610) - GM Mikheil Kekelidze (2576)
GM Larry Kaufman (2401) - IM Justin Sarkar (2512)
NM Jared Defibaugh (2297) - FM Leif Pressman (2374)
FM Ralph Zimmer (2244) - Jason Shi (2173)

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

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.

The Baltimore Kingfishers (3.5-4.5, 3rd place) battle the Connecticut Dreadnoughts (5.0-3.0, 2nd place) in a race to secure the 2nd playoff spot in the Northeast Division. Connecticut is 1.0 match point behind the 1st place New England Nor'easters, and the 1st place team in each division gets to choose either draw odds or color choice in the Quarterfinals of the playoffs. Baltimore needs to win this match to have any chance of overtaking Connecticut in the final week of the regular season. Baltimore is also behind with 14.5 game points (the first tie-break) to Connecticut's 18.0 game points thanks to Connecticut's 4-0 sweep of Baltimore the last time they faced-off in Week 1 of this season. Surprisingly, that means Baltimore has outscored Connecticut by 0.5 game points but Connecticut has outscored Baltimore by 0.5 match points after Week 1. Connecticut leads the all-time series 1.5-0.5 in match points. Three players (GM Mikheil Kekelidze, NM Jared Defibaugh, and Jason Shi) return from that last match to play in this match, too.

Board 1: GM Niclas Huschenbeth vs. GM Mikheil Kekelidze. GM Niclas Huschenbeth is (+1 -1) in his 2nd USCL season and has not played against Connecticut previously. He won in Week 7 with the white pieces against GM Emil Anka of the Seattle Sluggers on Board 1. He is matched up with GM Mikheil Kekelidze, who is (+2 =2 -1) in his 2nd USCL season and has scored (+1 =1) against Baltimore. He last played in Week 5, when he won with the black pieces against GM Sam Shankland of the New England Nor'easters on Board 1.

Board 2: IM Justin Sarkar vs. GM Larry Kaufman. IM Justin Sarkar lost his only game of the season in Week 7 with the white pieces against IM Levon Altounian of the Arizona Scorpions on Board 2. He has yet to play against Baltimore in his 3 USCL seasons. His opponent, GM Larry Kaufman, has a (=1 -2) record in his 9th season and drew his only career game against Connecticut. He lost in Week 7 with the black pieces against FM Costin Cozianu of the Seattle Sluggers on Board 2.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. FM Leif Pressman. NM Jared Defibaugh is (+2 =3 -2) in his 4th season and has a (-2) record against Connecticut. He drew last week with the black pieces against NM Mika Brattain of the New England Nor'easters on Board 3. He is set to play against FM Leif Pressman, who is (+1 =1) in his 2nd season but has not played against Baltimore. He drew in Week 7 with the black pieces against IM Mark Ginsburg of the Arizona Scorpions on Board 3.

Board 4: Jason Shi vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. Jason Shi is (+1 =1) in his first USCL season and won his only game against Baltimore. He last played in Week 4, when he drew with the black pieces against Jacob Wilkins of the St. Louis Arch Bishops on Board 4. He will square-off against FM Ralph Zimmer, who is (+2 =1) in his 8th year in the USCL and won his only career game against Connecticut. He won last week with the white pieces against NM Andrew Liu of the New England Nor'easters on Board 4.

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