Time Control 90 min. with 30 sec. increment
Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Philadelphia Inventors
GM Sergey Erenburg (2646) - FM Tom Bartell (2429)
FM Ralph Zimmer (2279) - IM Jay Bonin (2424)
NM Adithya Balasubramanian (2255) - FM Karl Dehmelt (2308)
NM Richard Selzler (2252) - IM Richard Costigan (2288)
Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.
This week the Baltimore Kingfishers face the Philadelphia Inventors. This is another same-season rematch as these teams faced each other in Week 4, which ended in all-draws. Five of the players (2 Baltimore, 3 Philadelphia) in this match also played in the first match. However, the stakes in this match are much higher as Philadelphia cannot lose if they want to keep playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, Baltimore is trying to hold onto its half-match-point lead for the 4th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Division.
Board 1: GM Sergey Erenburg vs. FM Tom Bartell. GM Erenburg is (+1 =4) against Philadelphia and (+2 =3) in the USCL this season. FM Bartell is (+1 =3) against Baltimore and (+2 =4) this season. Both players are also competing for this season's USCL MVP as GM Erenburg has 11.0 points and FM Bartell has 10.5 points while GM Becerra and GM Nakamura lead with 14.0 points. This game will only be FM Bartell's 2nd time on Board 1 this season, but he has played 3 GM's on Board 2 with a 2.0/3 score including an Upset of the Week with the black pieces against GM Boris Gulko. The 217-point rating difference in this game will be even tougher to overcome, but it is clear one should not underestimate FM Bartell. I anticipate this game could turn into quite a tactical melee!
Board 2: IM Jay Bonin vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. IM Bonin is (+1 =1 -3) against Baltimore and (=2) this season. FM Zimmer is (+3 =1) against Philadelphia and (+1 -1) this season. This match is FM Zimmer's third consecutive time playing and he's been on a different Board each time! This time, he has a 145-point rating disadvantage and the black pieces against one of the most active USCF players ever, IM Bonin. Last week, IM Bonin played 1. b3 and got a good position against IM Hungaski. Perhaps he'll try the Larsen Opening again this week? If so, I am sure it will lead to some very interesting play!
Board 3: NM Adithya Balasubramanian vs. FM Karl Dehmelt. Both players are new to the USCL this year, but FM Dehmelt has played nearly every week for Philadelphia. NM Balasubramanian is (=2) this season while FM Dehmelt is (+1 =1 -4) with the draw coming against Baltimore's IM Ray Kaufman this season. They both played black against New England's FM Braden Bournival with NM Balasubramanian scoring a draw, but FM Dehmelt having a loss. Transitivity suggests NM Balasubramanian should win despite a 53-point rating disadvantage. However, FM Dehmelt's win came the only time he had a rating advantage this season. I think the game will end more peacefully but not without bloodshed on the board!
Board 4: IM Richard Costigan vs. NM Richard Selzler. This game is the one rematch (with colors reversed) from Week 4. IM Costigan is (+1 =3 -4) against Baltimore and (+1 =4) this season while NM Selzler's only USCL game was the draw against IM Costigan. NM Selzler has since won the title of UMBC Student Champion. Now, there is only a 36-point rating advantage for IM Costigan, but he also holds the higher title and has the white pieces. Who will win the Richard-Row, Round 2? Watch Monday on ICC to find out!
PS. Good luck to GM Larry Kaufman, IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat, and IM Ray Kaufman, who are playing in the Continental Class Championships in Arlington, Virginia this weekend.