Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week 5 Review

Board 1: GM Leonid Kritz vs. GM Larry Christiansen
The game began with a Modern Defense and white appeared to carry a slight edge into the middle game.

Kritz-Christiansen 1

In the above position, GM Kritz could have played 34. Nxg6! Nxg6 35. Bxf6 Qc6 (35... Rxf6 Rd7+) 36. Bb2 with a good edge. Instead, the game continued with 34. Bb4 Bh4 35. Qxh4 Ne6 36. Qg4 Nf4 37. Rd8 Qc7 38. Qc8 Qe5 39. Rd7 Ne2+ 40. Kf1 Ng3+ 41. Ke1 Qa1+ 42. Rd1 Qf6 when they reached this position:

Kritz-Christiansen 2

and disaster struck with 43. Bc5? (43. Qc5 would have kept the game about even) to which GM Christiansen quickly responded with 43... Qc3+ 44. Rd2 e3! and white resigned in view of 45. fxe3 Rf1# or 45. Bxe3 Qxc8.

Board 2: SM Denys Shmelov vs. GM Sergey Erenburg
This game was a Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-slav where white played an early 7. e4. White has just played 13. 0-0-0 in the following position:


Here Black could have played 13... Nd7! 14. Be5 (14. Qxe8+ Qxe8 15. Bxd6 Qxe2 16. Rhe1 Qxc4+ 17. Kb1 Nf6 -+; 14. Qd4 Bxf4+ 15. Qxf4 Rxe2 -+) 14... Nxe5 Nxe5 Qf6 16. f4 Bf5 17. Qd4 Bc7 with a moderate edge as white's f-pawn will fall. GM Erenburg played 13... Nd3+ still with an advantage and managed to convert it into a win when SM Shmelov resigned after 55 moves.

Board 3: FM Shinsaku Uesugi vs. SM Marc Esserman
This game began with a Reti Opening with play directed toward the open c-file early on. Esserman would then take white's center pawns with a knight while Uesugi created the passed a-pawn with a bishop.


In order to play for a win, Black probably should have kept the bishop with 49... d5+ 50. Kd3 Bc5 (and not 49... Bf2 50. Kb5 Bxg3 51. Nc6 Bxf4 52. Ba5+ Kc8 53. Nd8 Kb8 54. Bc7+ Ka8 Nxf7 and probably a draw due to black's cornered king). Instead, the bishop trade 49... Bxc3 50. Kxc3 allowed white to use the a-pawn as a distraction to collect a couple of black's pawns, assuring the draw.

Board 4: NM Ilya Krasik vs. Ian Harris
This was probably the most anticipated match-up (At least there are more votes in our Board 4 poll than the rest) due to Ian's intentionally ironic prediction. Clearly, Caissa loves to facilitate irony in the US Chess League.

Now, the game was a Dutch Defense that soon came to the following position:


Ian played 9... h5? missing that Krasik could and did respond with 10. g4! Ian tried to hold starting with 10... Qh7, but Krasik kept black's pieces tied down and eventually took the full point.

This was a disappointing loss for the Kingfishers as they had a chance to take 2nd place in the East, but now they may fall to 4th place by the end of Wednesday night's matches. However, with only divisional match-ups left in the schedule, the Kingfishers will still have control over whether they make the playoffs.

Week 5 Photos

All photos taken by Masako Uesugi.

Week 5 Results

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Boston Blitz 1.5-2.5
GM Leonid Kritz (2654) - GM Larry Christiansen (2662) 0-1
GM Sergey Erenburg (2616) - SM Denys Shmelov (2474) 1-0
FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) - SM Marc Esserman (2461) 0.5-0.5
Ian Harris (2172) - NM Ilya Krasik (2252) 0-1

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baltimore vs. Boston

So last week was insanely busy and I didn't have time to preview the Arizona match. This week is still crazy but I have a little more time. This week we face Boston who is half a point ahead of us in the Eastern Division. A win here could be crucial to eventually securing our spot at the top of the table. A loss, would give New York or Queens a chance to catch up to us. Therefore, for the first time, we are breaking out our Kritz and Erenburg double GM lineup.

Board 1: GM Kritz 2654 (BAL) vs. GM Christiansen 2662 (BOS)

Not really sure what to say here. Both are really strong grandmasters, with Christiansen having perhaps a slight advantage in the experience category while Kritz has white. I expect quite a fight but it is hard to tell who will come out on top.

Board 2: SM Shmelov 2474 (BOS) vs. GM Erenburg 2616 (BAL)

Having Sergey relegated to board two is pretty scary... especially when you consider how well he did on board one last year. I don't think anyone can argue that Baltimore is the clear favorite on this board. I expect Shemlov will work hard to come through for his team but I don't believe he will be successful.

Board 3: FM Uesugi 2354 (BAL) vs. SM Esserman 2461 (BOS)

Shin has his hands full this week with Esserman. Advantage to Boston. However, Shin has been doing well for Baltimore so far and this will be his first white. A solid performance here should neutralize Boston's only real advantage and clinch the match in favor of Baltimore.

Board 4: NM Krasik 2252 (BOS) vs. Ian Harris 2172 (BAL)

No need for predictions here. What else could happen but a victory for Baltimore?

With victories likely for Baltimore on 2 + 4, it looks like Boston is going down... to chinatown. Tune in Monday 7:15 to witness the carnage first hand...

Week 5 Lineup

Monday, 7:15 PM EDT
Time Control 90 min. with 30 sec. increment

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Boston Blitz
GM Leonid Kritz (2654) - GM Larry Christiansen (2662)
GM Sergey Erenburg (2616) - SM Denys Shmelov (2474)
FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) - SM Marc Esserman (2461)
Ian Harris (2172) - NM Ilya Krasik (2252)

Note: Players in bold have the white pieces.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 4 Review

What a match the Kingfishers had against Arizona on Monday night!

First, we switched from our usual "Absolutely Quiet Floor" to the Library's Entrance. As the match started at 9PM EDT, we anticipated that any game that went 60+ moves would go past midnight - the Library's closing time - so we used the closest empty tables to the Library Atrium, which is open 24-hours but was nearly full while setting up for the match. The players did have to deal with slightly more noise than usual, but the players seemed mostly unfazed by it. However, the high traffic area did attract more spectators, most of whom (sadly) assumed we were UMBC's (renowned, but apparently mysterious) Chess Team despite the fact that none of this week's players is currently a UMBC student.

Now, as the match began, the players clearly made adjustments for the shorter (60/30) time control as they moved quickly through their openings, especially FM Shinsaku Uesugi, who had specifically prepared much of the Sveshnikov line he played on Board 4. He appeared quite calm and strolled about observing the other three games until about 24. Nb6. He had the worse position until NM Leo Martinez played 37. h4? instead of h3!


The move h4 allows the possibility of 37. ... f2 38. Rgf1? Rxh4+! 39. gxh4 Qe4+ 40. Kh2 Be5+ 41. Kh3 Qf3#. Martinez instead gave up the rook on g1 with 38. Qg4 and Shinsaku went on to convert his advantage for the only win of the match.

IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat's game on board 1 against IM Levon Altounian never seemed to deviate far from even. He tried to fight for an advantage with 16. Nd5.


However, the ensuing trade-offs ended in a three-fold repetition position in which both players had KR+4P's.

Both teams played an alternate this week, so for these players, you may only see them play again once more or not at all for the rest of the 2009 Season. For Arizona, IM Mark Ginsburg played GM Larry Kaufman on Board 2. The opening phase appeared slightly better for white, but Larry managed to win white's f-pawn. He tried hard to convert this advantage, but he go into a Rook and Pawns endgame that gave chances to both sides. The following position was reached:


White could have tried 55. Rg5 Rg8 56. Kf7 Rxg7+ 57. Rxg7 when endgame tablebases assure me that black can draw starting with b5! (only move), but of course, players have not yet memorized 6-piece tablebases, so the result may have gone either way as both players would have been very low on time.

Finally, on Board 3, Baltimore Alternate IM Ray Kaufman faced FM Robby Adamson. Ray has recently had some great tournament results: tied 1st in the Okie Chess Festival's Masters Invitational and the St. John's Masters where he defeated both GM Rohde and GM DeFirmian and drew GM Yudasin, so he was hoping to continue his hot streak into a good USCL performance. Now, in the game, Ray came out to attack by opening up black's king with 22. Rxf6. However, FM Adamson defended well and even had several chances to gain a decisive advantage including in this position:


Black had the exchange-winning 35. ... Kg8! 36. Rg4 fxg4 37. Bxg6 Rd1+ 38. Kh2 Bd6 getting the queen back.

With both players in time trouble, they eventually traded into a Bishop and Pawns endgame that Adamson pressed, as Arizona had lost board 4, until move 119.

Before the trade of rooks on move 44, the Library was announced to be closing at midnight with the lights turned off on us a few times. Actually, all the games were still going at the time. Luckily, these distractions did not prove distrastrous for our players as they came out with the match win 2.5-1.5. Although, we're still looking forward to returning to our "Absolutely Quiet Floor."

Week 4 Photos

Photos from Week 4 taken by Masako Uesugi:

Week 4 Results

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Arizona Scorpions 2.5-1.5
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2430) - IM Levon Altounian (2538) 0.5-0.5
GM Larry Kaufman (2444) - IM Mark Ginsburg (2427) 0.5-0.5
IM Ray Kaufman (2297) - FM Robby Adamson (2354) 0.5-0.5
FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) - NM Leo Martinez (2230) 1-0

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

UMBC Championship

The UMBC Championship (20 moves/1 hr + SD/1 hr), held this weekend, saw a 5-way (!) tie for first place with IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat, WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor, FM Shinsaku Uesugi, NM Adithya Balasubramanian, and Christopher Ventura all scoring 4.0/5. Only WGM Foisor did it by scoring 4 wins, but IM Enkhbat held the best tie-breakers to take the tournament victory. NM Adithya Balasubramanian had the 2nd best tie-breakers, so he took the title of UMBC Student Chess Champion.

The field also included Kingfishers members Ian Harris (3.5/5), WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (3.0/5), and Jared Defibaugh (2.5/5).

Thanks to the Maryland Chess Association, especially TDs Wilbert Brown and Sathish Nath, for helping to run the tournament. Check out the crosstable here.

Also, check out these photos by Masako Uesugi!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Week 4 Lineup

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

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Arizona Scorpions
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2430) - IM Levon Altounian (2538)
GM Larry Kaufman (2444) - IM Mark Ginsburg (2427)
IM Ray Kaufman (2297) - FM Robby Adamson (2354)
FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) - NM Leo Martinez (2230)

Note: Players in bold have the white pieces.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week 3 Photos

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Week 3 Results

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Philadelphia Inventors 1.5-2.5
GM Leonid Kritz (2654) - GM Sergey Kudrin (2602) 1-0
GM Larry Kaufman (2444) - IM Alex Lenderman (2638) 0-1
FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) - FM Tom Bartell (2411) 0.5-0.5
WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (2265) - Kavinayan Sivakumar (2048) 0-1

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kingfishers vs. Inventors

I don't consider myself much of a baseball fan, but I do pay attention enough to know that the Orioles beat the Yankees on Friday night. Since my permanent residence is in Yankee territory I suppose that would make me a Yankee fan by default. However, all that can be put on hold when you are in Baltimore late at night sitting in the middle of a bar, with a whole bunch of hard core Oriole fans, where the slightest notion of support for the Yankees would certainly prove to be an unwise decision that would bring an otherwise fun night to a abrupt end. Don't get me wrong, I like the Orioles. After all, I have been in Baltimore for the last four years and I drive right past Camden Yards at least twice a day.


While we are not facing NY in week three (how fitting would that be?) and Philadelphia is certainly not very close to where I live, several of their players are from my neck of the woods and you could normally find me rooting for GM Kudrin and IM Lenderman at the local tournaments. Once again I have to choose where my loyalties lie and once again it is not a very hard choice. Let's take a quick look at the match which sees Baltimore playing white for the first time...

Board 1 GM Leonid Kritz 2654 (BAL) vs. GM Sergey Kudrin 2602 (PHI):

This board sees what should be an exciting GM vs. GM match up between my good friend Leonid Kritz and fellow Connecticitian (!?!? I made that one up because when I googled it I got so many different and bizarre answers) Sergey Kudrin. Kudrin has had his work cut out for him this year. So far he has played Shabalov, Benjamin and now Kritz. Although he has faced some really tough competition, his results leave something to be desired for both him and Philly. Perhaps he is not in form or perhaps it is the commute. Either way, if he doesn't change something quickly, he will have his hands full with black against Kritz. I would have to say that this board looks good for us both on paper and on the board.

Board 2 IM Alex Lenderman 2638 (PHI) vs. GM Larry Kaufman 2444 (BAL):

Needless to say Philadelphia's ability to put Lenderman on board 2 while still playing a 2400+ on board 3 is quite scary. Both Lenderman and Kaufman have been very active and playing well lately. Kaufman recently qualified for the opportunity to defend his World Senior Champion title. Meanwhile, Lenderman won the Atlantic Open and also had a good showing at the NY Open. This is a clear 200 rating point advantage for Philly but it is hard for me to see how Lenderman can keep up with such a busy schedule. I am assuming he must be quite busy with managing, tournaments and a similar commute to Kudrin. I expect to see an intense fight and would not be surprised to see us take a half point or more.

Board 3 FM Shinsaku Uesugi 2354 (BAL) vs. FM Thomas Bartell 2411 (PHI):

I don't have much to say about this match as I don't really know Bartell at all. I suppose he will be trying to have a repeat performance of last week when he was the only player to win for Philly. Meanwhile, Uesugi returns with white this time and will undoubtedly be looking to reverse his start to his USCL career. It is a close match on paper and will be perhaps closer on the board.

Board 4 Kavinayan Sivakumar 2048 (PHI) vs. WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg 2265 (BAL):

Like most 4th boards in the league, Sivakumar is an unknown to me. While quite strong for his age, it is unlikely that he will be able to compete with the strength and experience of WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg who holds a significant rating advantage. Look for Battsetseg to pull through nicely for Baltimore as she did last week with the crucial win. By the way, no word yet on the reason why she has only played in the odd years but I have a hunch that it is just a coincidence after all.

Anyway, what is up with Philadelphia? At the beginning of the season I pegged them to be major contenders for the playoffs, but they have yet to pick up a point. Perhaps they just have not found the right line up, or perhaps the CT/NY to PA commute is taking it's toll (trust me it is not fun). Weaknesses for Philly on boards 1 + 4 give us a nice advantage. Seems like they will have to invent some magic in order to win and recover from weeks 1 + 2. Otherwise I predict Baltimore to continue to win on the field and at the board while Philadelphia's skid will continue to 0-3.

Also, look for more pictures from our matches. I brought my camera last week but the stupid battery died. Fortunately Shinsaku Uesugi's mother Masako was on hand and provided us with some nice pictures as always! I intend to include some pictures in future blogs.


Week 3 Lineup

Monday, 7:30 PM EDT
Time Control 90 min. with 30 sec. increment

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Philadelphia Inventors
GM Leonid Kritz (2654) - GM Sergey Kudrin (2602)
GM Larry Kaufman (2444) - IM Alex Lenderman (2638)
FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) - FM Tom Bartell (2411)
WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (2265) - Kavinayan Sivakumar (2048)

Note: Players in bold have the white pieces.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Week 2 Photos

Perfect environment for serious chess

That's me, the TD, set up to follow the match

Getting FM Shinsaku Uesugi online

GM Sergey Erenburg playing Board 1

IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat playing Board 2

FM Shinsaku Uesugi playing Board 3

WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg playing Board 4

Ian Harris comes to support the team

Kingfishers quite satisfied with a drawn match!

Photographs taken by Masako Uesugi, mother of Shinsaku.

Week 2 Results

Queens Pioneers vs. Baltimore Kingfishers 2-2
IM Dmitry Schneider (2510) - GM Sergey Erenburg (2616) 0.5-0.5
IM Yury Lapshun (2504) - IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2430) 0.5-0.5
FM Andrei Zaremba (2398) - FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354) 1-0
WFM Elizabeth Vicary (2106) - WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (2265) 0-1

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Tournaments

GM Larry Kaufman (5.0/6) finished clear 2nd, behind GM Larry Christiansen (5.5/6) of the Boston Blitz, in the U.S. Senior Open!  Since GM Christiansen is not yet 60, GM Kaufman wins a return to the World Senior Championship in Arco, Italy (Nov. 4th-15th), where he'll have a chance to defend his status as World (Co-)Champion.

More locally, several Kingfishers played in the Maryland Action, Quick, and Blitz Championships, hosted by the Maryland Chess Association.

IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat won the Quick Tournament (G/15) with 6.0/7, ahead of of FM Shinsaku Uesugi (5.0/7), Jared Defibaugh (5.0/7), and WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (4.5/7).

Jared Defibaugh won the Blitz Tournament (G/5) with a fantastic 9.0/10!  FM Shinsaku Uesugi placed 4th with 6.0/10.  Defibaugh's blitz prowess could be handy in a Championship Tie-break except that Ian Harris already predicted a tie-break won't be necessary!

Finally, FM Ralph Zimmer won the Action Tournament (G/30) with 6.0/7, losing only to Jared Defibaugh (4.5/7), but defeating top seed GM Sergey Erenburg (2nd place with 5.5/7)!  IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat and Ian Harris finished tied for 3rd place with 5.0/7.

We'll see tomorrow if the weekend action warmed up our players for the upcoming match against the Queens Pioneers!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week 2 Preview

So last week went according to plan and we started the season off well by defeating Carolina 3-1. Leonid Kritz and Jared Defibaugh made their debuts in the league and did not disappoint. On Tuesday we face Queens in what is looking to be a pretty exciting and difficult to predict encounter.

Queens also has an extremely flexible roster and like us they have chosen almost a completely different line up from what they had last week. Lets look at it board by board...

Board 1 IM Dmitry Schneider 2510 (QNS) vs. GM Sergey Erenburg 2616 (BAL):

This match will see Erenburg try to pick up from where he left off last season. Although he has played far less chess than he did last summer, it seems he has gotten some games in here and there. So hopefully he will be in good form. Meanwhile, can Schneider take over the reins from Stripunsky and lead the Pioneers down the long road to victory? It is hard to think that he will be prepared since it looks as if he hasn't played in a single tournament in quite a while. It will be difficult for him to pull through for his team if he is still shaking off the dust.

Board 2 IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat 2430 (BAL) vs. IM Yury Lapshun 2504 (QNS):

Queens' hopes for a win will fall on this board as this is where they hold the greatest rating advantage. Both players have been active lately which means they should both be playing well. I expect Lapshun will push hard for a win but if Enkhbat is able to hold a draw or better, it will probably guarantee Baltimore the win.

Board 3 FM Andrei Zaremba 2398 (QNS) vs. FM Shinsaku Uesugi 2354 (BAL):

No GM on board 3 for Baltimore this week as Larry Kaufman is participating in the US Senior Open. Good luck Larry! Zaremba returning to board 3 for Queens is not a real surprise as he is really the only player that fills the gap between the 2500's and the many experts on their team. He had a strong performance in Week 1 so it will be a tall order for Uesugi's first ever USCL match. However Uesugi has been improving rapidly so Zaremba will surely have his hands full.

Board 4 WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg 2265 (BAL) vs. WFM Elizabeth Vicary 2106 (QNS):

Week 2 sees the return of our team manager Tsagaan Battsetseg after not playing at all last season. She will surely be out for blood and a repeat performance of her previous encounter with Vicary at the 2007 US Women's Championships. Battsetseg holds a nice rating advantage on this board but I expect it to be an exciting struggle since Vicary has already indicated her intentions for revenge. By the way, I don't recall the last time two women faced off in the USCL. Does anyone know or is this a first? And what is the deal with Battsetseg only playing during odd years? I will have to investigate whether this is some sort of long term strategy or just a coincidence.

So I think I made enough bold predictions to last a while so I am not going to bother predicting the score on this one. However, for sure I can say that Tuesday's match between Queens and Baltimore will be a bloody affair. Queens will be looking to rebound from their loss against Boston while Baltimore will want to continue with their strong start by posting a second straight win. My first and only game in the USCL (up until now at least) was against Queens last year and we suffered a very unfortunate loss, so revenge is certainly in the air.

Week 2 Lineup

Tuesday, 7:15 PM EDT
Time Control 90 min. with 30 sec. increment

Queens Pioneers vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
IM Dmitry Schneider (2510) - GM Sergey Erenburg (2616)
IM Yury Lapshun (2504) - IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2430)
FM Andrei Zaremba (2398) - FM Shinsaku Uesugi (2354)
WFM Elizabeth Vicary (2106) - WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg (2265)

Note: Players in bold have the white pieces.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Week 1 Results

Carolina Cobras vs. Baltimore Kingfishers 1-3
IM Jonathan Schroer (2429) - GM Leonid Kritz (2654) 0.5-0.5
FM Oleg Zaikov (2388) - IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2430) 0-1
FM Ron Simpson (2290) - GM Larry Kaufman (2444) 0-1
NM Craig Jones (2275) - Jared Defibaugh (2155) 0.5-0.5

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