Saturday, September 15, 2007

Blitz crush Inventors, make league history

Many were asking if Philadelphia was for real after their 2-0 start to the 2007 US Chess League season. Third week opponent Boston's response was a resounding NO! With a 3.5-0.5 thrashing, the Blitz made the Inventors look like just another also-ran in the East, not a contender for the division crown.

I didn't get a chance to watch the match live, so I can't provide any insight into the ups and downs of the night. Then again, how many downs could there have possibly been for Boston? Was the outcome ever in question? I doubt it.

As for the games, the GM matchup on Board 1 looks like it was a snore. Maybe there were some hidden tactics in the minds of the grandmasters that never reached board, but I couldn't find anything to hold my interest. Takes, takes, takes, takes, draw -- that was about it.

Sammour-Hasbun's game on Board 2 has more to sink your teeth into. Despite Robby Adamson's contention that "Jorge ... fought off a fierce attack from IM Bryan Smith," it didn't look all that fearsome to me. Nevertheless, Jorge did find some very nice moves keep his opponent off balance -- particularly 26.Rxd6. Here are a few interesting positions from the most entertaining game of the night:

Sammour-Hasbun - Smith after 19.Bxa6
White seeks to undermine Black's control of d5.
If 19...Bxa6, then 20.g5

after 26.Rxd6
A move that must have taken nerves of steel to unleash
(or at least good calculating skills)

after 32...Nxb3
Here White moved 33.Rf1,
but could he have played 33.Qxc8?

I don't have much to say about the games on Boards 3 & 4, which both seemed to go relatively easily for Boston, though Denys' subtle trapping of his opponent's Queen was nice...

Yeager-Shmelov after 27.Qxc4
Denys played 27...Qb7 and suddenly
White's queen had no squares

The Boylston Chess Foundation lawyers have been busy this weekend preparing an injunction against Bionic Lime and his "new" objective power rankings. While the tart, green one claims that "There are others that have power rankings, but my rankings have no subjective elements...", he fails to note that the US Chess League Quantitative Power Rankings, here at BCC Weblog, were the first purely objective, quantitative rankings for the league. It may take some time for this matter to work its way through the courts, so in the meantime, in order to avoid confusion, the QPRs will be renamed the Original US Chess League Quantitative Power Rankings. [Blogger's Note: Actually, I'm from the "more the merrier" school of thinking, but we'll keep running with this storyline just for fun.]

Here are the current rankings:

Original US Chess League Quantitative Power Rankings
After Week 3
Format - (Match Record, Scaled Score, Last Week's Rank)
  1. Boston (3.0, .944, 1st)

  2. Seattle (2.0, .743, 5th) - While the Sluggers are a half point behind the Destiny in match record, they've managed to edge out the Western Division leaders with stronger scores in all the other quantitative dimensions

  3. Dallas (2.5, .740, 4th)

  4. San Francisco (2.0, .692, 3rd)

  5. Carolina (2.0, .617, 6th)

  6. Philadelphia (2.0, .536, 2nd)

  7. Baltimore (1.5, .470, 7th)

  8. New Jersey (1.5, .394, 8th)

  9. Queens (0.5, .234, 9th) - The Pioneers have faced the toughest opposition of any team so far this season, both in terms of average opponent rating and opponent's match record.

  10. New York (0.5, .206, 12th) - The Knights are finally out of the cellar after splitting a point with last year's champs

  11. Tennessee (0.5, .136, 10th)

  12. Miami (0.0, .110, 11th)
Click here for a discussion of the methodology behind the Original US Chess League Quantitative Power Rankings.

Despite the great disparity in the standings, no one should think that the Boston Blitz aren't taking this Monday Night's matchup with the rival New York Knights very seriously. For the Knights, this is virtually a must win match in order to maintain contact with the division leaders. Therefore, it is no surprise that they dipped into their alternate pool and took advantage of the "10 points for girls" rule in order to field one of their strongest possible lineups. Not to be outdone, Boston also opted for a two GM lineup. As a result, for the first time in USCL history two Grandmasters will face off on Board 2.

Here are the pairings (the Blitz have White on Boards 2 & 4):

GM Larry Christiansen: 2663 vs. GM Hikaru Nakamura: 2709
GM Eugene Perelshteyn: 2601 vs. GM Pascal Charbonneau: 2532
NM Denys Shmelov: 2251 vs. IM Jay Bonin: 2340
NM Chris Williams: 2175 vs. WFM Elizabeth Vicary: 2153

You have to figure that Nakamura has the edge with White on Board 1. I'd be inclined to say the same for Perelshteyn on Board 2, except for the fact that Charbonneau never loses to the Blitz. Stealth 2300-player Chris Williams must be considered a strong favorite over Vicary, especially since league humor is not part of the scoring criteria. That leaves Board 3, where I think it is likely that this match gets decided. I'd bet heavily on a 2.5-1.5 outcome, though it beats me which team pulls through.

Again this week, I will not be available to watch the match live, this time because it conflicts with Round 2 of the Boylston Chess Club Championship and Hauptturnier. One must have their priorities, and this is BCC Weblog after all.

BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

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