The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 9

Predictors Foiled by Wontons

The USCL predictors didn’t see the chameleon nature of the Scorpions in Week 9 – we came up hissing.

Ed Scimia wrote, “Chicago vs. Arizona: This is a huge match for the Blaze, while the Scorpions are only mathematically alive for a playoff spot. Much like Seattle, I think Chicago will come up big knowing they need the win. Prediction: Chicago 2.5, Arizona 1.5 ”  But a chess match is just four guys playing four games – no way for the squad to cross-energize itself with stunning coups. 😀

The Lime of the Bionic variety similarly went astray predicting Chicago 3 Arizona 1. Newcomer MatanP picked Chicago 2.5, and Ron Young hedges his with “probably” but went for Chicago 2.5 also.  Arun Sharma said, “Like previous matches, it’s clear who this match holds more meaning for given each team’s respective playoff hopes. Add to that the fact that Van de Mortel and Tate have both been playing quite well this season, and Ginsburg and Rensch have been struggling, I think this one’s easy to call. Chicago 3 – 1.”    Indeed, on paper, it was easy to call.   But we had an “X” factor!

What none of them knew was that our team ate a marvelous Chinese food meal before the game!  This boosted us (well, almost all of us) by adding 150 ELO points to each player.  Crab wontons, shrimp with orange peel, and other gourmet items normally only seen in World Championship matches.  It is absolutely critical to eat well (but not eat too much) before a match! I am not advocating here Feldsteinian eating-noisily-and-messily-at-the-board.  This “X” factor propelled us (well, three of us) into other-worldly Caissic strength.   So the next time a Scimia or a Young or a Sharma or even a “MatanP” (who??) sits down and ponders, ponder this:  will we be nourished by crab wontons?

The matches themselves

Chicago vs Arizona

1. GM Nikola Mitkov (CHC) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ)  0-1
2. IM Mark Ginsburg (ARZ) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC)  1-0

Sicilian Dragon

1.e4  c5  2.Nf3  d6  3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nf6  5.Nc3  g6  6.Be3  Bg7  7.f3  0-0  8.Qd2  Nc6  9.0-0-0   Nxd4 9…d5 is a whole other story.  I witnessed a game Josh Friedel-Warren Harper where white won fairly convincingly after 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 e5 13. Bc5. I don’t know the last word, though.

10.Bxd4  Be6  11.Kb1  Qc7  12.Nd5  Bxd5  13.exd5  Rfc8  14.Rc1  Qd7  15.g4  b5  16.c4 Black is theoretically OK after 16. g5.  16. h4 is possible but after 16…Qb7 I only see 17. c4 transposing back to the game.

16…Qb7  17.h4  bxc4  18.Bxc4  Rc7 The daring 18…Nxd5!? looks to be playable.  After 19. Bxg7 Nb6! 20. Bxf7+ Kxf7 21. Bc3 the computer says, believe it or not, 21…Ke8!? to hit f3.  It’s hard to believe, but the king seems to be finding light square safety on d7.  On the other hand, 18…a5?! 19. h5! looks good for white.

19.b3?! Not very impressive.   The non-human 19. Qa5! is a good choice.  The direct 19. h5!? Rac8 20. Qd3 is also possible with very sharp play. If 20. Qd3 Qb4 21. a3 Qa4 22. Bb5! gives white a good ending.

19…Rac8 19…a5!? 20. h5 a4!? with a crazy position is thematic.

20.Qb2  h5? This is a game-ending mistake.  20…a5! is correct.

21.gxh5  Nxh5  22.Bxg7  Nxg7  23.h5! Now white wins.

23…Rxc4 The point is 23…gxh5 24. Rhg1 (or 24. Rcg1) f6 25. Rxg7+! Kxg7 26. Rg1+ and white mates after 26…Kf7 27. Qg2.  White wins a piece and the game after the prosaic 26…Kh8 27. Qc1 e5 28. Qh6+ Rh7 29. Qxf6+ Rg7 30. Ba6!

24.Rxc4  Rxc4  25.bxc4? White could have saved time and energy with 25. h6! Nh5 26. bxc4 Qxb2+ 27. Kxb2 Kh7 28. Re1! and it’s over.  I didn’t spot the nice 25. h6! at all.

25…Qxb2+  26.Kxb2  gxh5  27.Kb3 Going for the a-pawn is simple enough.  Black is not in time.

27… Kh7  28.Kb4  Kg6  29.Kb5  Nf5  30.Ka6  Ne3  31.Kxa7  Nxc4  32.a4  e6  33.Ka6  Kg5  34.Kb5  exd5  35.a5  Nxa5  36.Kxa5  h4  37.Kb4  Kf4  38.Rxh4+  Kxf3  39.Kc3  f5  40.Kd2  f4  41.Rh6  Kg2  42.Rg6+  Kf3  43.Rxd6  Ke4  44.Ke2  f3+  45.Kf2  d4  46.Rd8  d3  47.Rd7  Black resigns 1-0

3. IM Emory Tate (CHC) vs FM Daniel Rensch (ARZ)  1-0
4. NM Joel Johnson (ARZ) vs Ilan Meerovich (CHC)  1-0

were fairly interesting.  I will go over some of them in a day or two after I recover from the verdammt drive to and from Mesa, AZ.

Chess Dregs

For a jaw-dropping sleaze maneuver, see this non-profit’s victimization tale. It’s hard to believe people would behave like this (perhaps learned in a bad MBA program or the perpetrator is otherwise hard-up for cash?).  Symptomatic of society in general or just an aberrant small piece of poop dropped on Illinois Chess by a diseased seagull?

Corporate Chess and Bridge News

In merger talks certain to doom both companies, National Master Stephen Feinberg and his Cerberus private equity firm are trying to merge Chryster and GM. This ‘maneuver’ is another question mark following the question mark move of Cerberus acquiring Chryster in the first place (and a share of the toxic GMAC).     And I cannot understand how bridge player Warren Spector avoided being on Anderson Cooper’s heavily watched video series “10 Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse.” A young guy groomed to be the successor of the (now down-in-flames) Bear Stearns (with plenty of aloof energy) is more to blame than his sedentary bridge-playing boss, Jimmy Cayne.  Have you noticed a trend?  Chess and bridge are disasters in the corporate setting. 🙂

Update: Chrysler Doomed – Checkmate

NEW YORK ( — Chrysler LLC plans to reduce its white-collar workforce by 25% by the end of the year, the company said in an announcement Friday.

The cuts, about 5,000 workers in total, will come from Chrysler’s salaried and supplemental workforce. Chrysler has about 18,500 white-collar workers.

Do Cerberus cronies suffer?   I think not.

As Peter M. De Lorenzo (author of “The United States of Toyota”) states,

“As I mentioned last week, the Cerberus infatuation with the auto biz is so done that they can’t wait to unload Chrysler, a humiliating admission from the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe and an emphatic indictment of the formerly unimpeachable Cerberus brain trust/posse. That the automobile business is unlike any other in the world was completely lost on Cerberus managers. And the fact that they entered the fray at the exact wrong moment in history is indisputable. But more on that in a moment.”

At least chess gets some good PR here – masters of some sort of Universe.

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6 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 9”

  1. Granny O'Doul Says:

    A recent restoration of da Vinci’s “Last Supper” revealed that the menu that day was sliced eel with orange peel. I don’t know of what benefit it proved, though.

  2. Matan Prilleltensky Says:

    jackass, MatanP = Matan Prilleltensky!

    that was a good movie

  3. Jan van de Mortel Says:


    A few comments on our game and your annotations:

    16.c4 is an unusual move order, so I spend some time on 16…h5, but decided to follow my preparation and transpose to the main line.

    I looked at 18…Nxd5!? before the game and did not like it: 19.Bxg7 Nb6 20.Bxf7 Kxg7 (I believe 20…Kxf7 21.Bc3 Ke8 is bad for Black, as the White king is safe and Black’s kingside pawns and king are not) 21.Rxc8!N (21.Bb3 Rxc1 22.Qxc1 Qxf3 23.h5 Rc8 24.Qe1 e5 25.hxg6 Qd3 26.Ka1 Qxg6 27.Qh4 Re8 28.Rc1 Kh8 seems OK for Black; 1/2 in Sakelsek-Brkic, 2003) 21…Qxc8 (21…Rxc8 22.Be6 Rc5 23.Qf4 +-, or 22…Qxf3 23.Qd4+-) 22.Bb3 Qf8 23.f4 and Black is struggling, especially with the knight on b6.

    I disagree on your !?, and think it should be 19.b3! (novelty); my prep continued 19.Bb3 Rac8 20.Rxc7 Rxc7 21.h5 Qb5 22.h6 Bh8 23.g5 Nd7 24.Bxh8 Kxh8 25.Qd4 Ne5 26.Rd1 (26.f4 Qd3) 26…Qc5 with an even endgame in Mueller-Reschke, 1995. During our game I started doubting the soundness of Black’s position, and thought White can improve with, for example, 22.Ka1 and it’s not clear how Black can improve.

    After 20.Qb2 I spend 20 of my remaining 28 minutes wondering what to do against the threat h5-h6 and g5. 20…Bf8 was my intention, but I didn’t trust the position after 21.h5 Nxd5 22.hxg6 fxg6 23.Rhd1! e6 24.Qe2 Kf7 25.f4 and White’s pieces seem very well coordinated (as opposed to mine).

    I finally dismissed Bf8, and didn’t like 20…a5 21.a4!, when Black can’t transpose into an endgame anymore due to the weak a5 pawn and White’s potential threat of b3-b4. Without any further thought, I decided to stop White’s h5 with 20…h5?? and immediately wondered why I hadn’t calculated 21.gxh5.

    25.bxc4?! (instead of 25.h6!) gave me a slimmer of hope, as I was hoping for 27.Kc3 Kh7 28.Rb1 Nf5 29.Rb7 h4 30.Rxa7 h3 31.Rb7 h2 32.Rb1 Ng3 33.a4?? Ne2 34.Kd2 Ng1 winning! Of course, 33.Kd2 h1Q 34.Rxh1 Nxh1 35.a4 Ng3 36.a5 Nf5 37.a6 Ng7 38.a7 Ne8 39.a8Q highlights the limitations of a knight.

    Anyways, I don’t think the line 9…Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 is good for Black, and your fine play only stands to confirm my belief.


    Interesting and thanks for the input. Maybe 19…a5!?

  4. Arizona Scorpions » Recap of Weeks 7, 8, and 9 Says:

    […] Here is the recap of the last three matches of the Scorpions. Week 9 is reviewed by Robby Adamson and Weeks 7 and 8 by Leo Martinez. Please also check out Mark Ginsburg’s blog for his thoughts on the match at […]

  5. The Fabulous 00s: 2009 USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week « IM Mark Ginsburg Presents A Personal Chess History Says:

    […] see Jan van de Mortel won Game of the Week with an interesting Dragon vs Bartholomew.  The variation as a whole does not have a good reputation.  I am still a fan of 14. Rc1! and am a) surprised Bartholomew did not play it and b) wondering how Jan would improve if […]

  6. 2009 USCL Week 9: Opening of the Week | Arizona Scorpions Says:

    […] see Jan van de Mortel won Game of the Week with an interesting Dragon vs Bartholomew.  The variation as a whole does not have a good reputation.  I am still a fan of 14. Rc1! and am a) surprised Bartholomew did not play it and b) wondering how Jan would improve if […]

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