San Francisco defeated the Scorpions comprehensively last Wednesday 3.5 – 0.5.
Some observations about the 2009 USCL season:
A) The Scorpions are a much improved squad with the addition of GM Alejandro Ramirez. In addition, we had more communication pre-match although sometimes players would switch away from openings they had discussed with other team members at the last minute, with highly variable results.
B) We still suffer from logistical problems since our Tucson site and our Mesa (greater Phoenix) site are quite far apart. This leads to roster problems, scheduling problems, etc. Even so, the Abstrax site in Mesa is phenomenal. The Tucson site is much improved too since we added a separate commentary room to herd the noisy onlookers. Although there still is texting and giggling sometimes in the playing room. Levon could not hear Wolff’s draw offer, although his sound was on, due to that sort of “ambient noise” !
C) I hated being an Alternate and sitting by passively watching the playoff. Both Aldama and I had played two games, but he somehow was not an alternate although the playoff was in Tucson and he could not travel. Ugh!!! So there I am in the commentary room and it was Veterans Day and we had only 1 or 2 spectators. All I could do was read HA81 (a better name is PA for Passive Aggressive) trashing Krasik on various blog sites and vice versa (Karmic that their teams lost as well as our battlin’ Scorps – but I do feel sorry for LarryC, he played really creatively vs. Kach).
D) One of our highest scoring members, David Adleberg, was away at the World Youth and missed the playoff! Unlucky!
E) Many of our players suffered from playoff nerves, understandably so, and it showed in shaky playoff openings.
F) Switching away from nerves into the simply bizarre, although Naroditsky’s bizarre ….Ng4?!?! foray in the Poisoned Pawn opening actually “worked” in some sense, I am at a loss of words to describe it!
The game (Adamson-Naroditsky Board 3) went:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6!?
8. Nb3 Qe3+ 9. Qe2 Ng4 ?!?! (or alternatively !?!? it’s truly shocking – an OTB inspiration? It’s illogical in its face, but has value in the USCL time control!)
Now Robby found 10. Nd1!. The game went on 10…Qxe2 11. Bxe2 Nf6 and here probably best for white is 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. Ne3! +=. That horse always is thinking about hopping to c4. The computer reveals 13…Nc6 14. Kf2! to meet 14…b5 with 15. a4! +=. The position is difficult for play, for example 14. O-O-O?! would take away this resource for white and forfeit much, if not all, of his edge.
Further note 11/16/09: based on feedback from IM John Donaldson, 12. Bxf6 gxf 13. Ne3 Nd7 idea b6, Bb7 might be all right for black. John and I both studied Bg5 Najdorfs in the early to mid 70s. At least I was able to surprise Jakovenko recently in an ICC blitz game in a different Bg5 Najdorf. John says the most “name” player to previously try 9…Ng4 was Litinskaya (2375), former Women’s Candidate.
Another way to play for white is 12. Nf2!? and castles short, keeping the bishop pair. As always, white wants to avoid castling long in order to always meet b7-b5 with a2-a4. After 12. Nf2 white has a small edge.
In the game white elected to keep the bishop pair and appeared to be a bit better as well, but black developed surprising counter-chances later.
G) I have some funny pre-match video of the team yipping and yapping which I will post within 2 days. (along with team amanuensis Ben Marmont and the ever-stylish Amanda Mateer).
H) Our squad, along with Amanda and Ben, did make it for one last Applebees at 11:30 pm. They closed at midnight. The waitress addressed Amanda by saying “Whaddya want, Lady?” to great merriment. I called Ben a “Frosty Haired Choad” stunning the waitress because I had just rented “I Love You, Man”. Danny Rensch queried the waitress “ISN’T IT TRUE EVERYTHING IN APPLEBEES IS MICROWAVED I KNOW IT IS MY COUSIN WORKED THERE AND IT IS”? The waitress was assured she was getting a big tip.
Rules Reform Needed in USCL Playoffs
I think teams getting draw odds in the USCL playoffs are too great an odds. So do others, judging from blog posts I’ve seen around the league. I understand the desire to give higher seeds an edge, but this edge is too high. It’s an easy rule to reform and still bestow the desired small edge to the higher seed.
Here are some proposals.
A) A single Armageddon game between Board 1 (or Board 2 at the higher seed’s choosing) with the proviso the opponents must be within 150 points of one another. It will last only 12 minutes maximum and add thrills, and yes, more chess to the playoff! An Armageddon game, let me remind the readers is: Black gives white 7 min. to 5 min. time odds in a blitz game, but white gives black draw odds. A very tense situation.
The higher seed can choose colors in the game – I put in that rating differential proviso to avoid the absurd scenario of the higher seed fielding a 2900 vs a 2400 or some such.
B) Some other proposal (I’ll leave it open to readers’ imagination).
USCL Finals Coverage – Ben ‘n Me
This just in – ICC Chess.FM will cover the USCL finals. GM Ben Finegold and I will do the honors. So visit chessclub.com or logon to ICC in December (but not too late, figure out when the finals actually are :)) and watch the final matchup!