Monday, March 16, 2009


Monday, January 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

US Division Championships

I'm very sad after watching the collapse last Wednesday by San Francisco. I really enjoyed watching them all season sad it had to end this way. I will say that they almost had possibly a worse collapse last year against New York in the playoffs. At some point it looked like they were destroying new york and then they had to win in the tiebreak after some missed opportunities to put it away there too.

Who's going to win this week?
Who cares? Oh, I guess I still do, a lot of exciting chess left.
Boston over NY 2-2
Dallas over Miami 3-1

Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

US Chess League: Playoffs wildcard

Playoffs!!!!!! Well, I didn't even realize there would be predictions into the playoffs and thanks to my opponents picking opposite sides of the bets I believe I'm now officially theoretically eliminated from winning (Not really that big of a deal, I'll be back next year better than ever).

However this week we have some serious excitement in the form of first round madness.

Philadelphia Inventors vs New York Knights
Nakamura has greatly underperformed in the league, but just came off of 2 amazing results in Europe, which Hikaru will we see this week in the league? Whichever one we do see will likely have a huge impact on this match. Edge to Nakamura.
Krush-Smith didn't turn out too pretty a few weeks ago, but I don't see that game repeating itself so I give Krush a slight edge with white.
Costigan-Bonin two players who have been performing well this year, I think I slightly prefer Bonin who has found some impressive ways to score so far this year.
Zenyuk - Wilson, Wilson got the wrong end of this one last time, but I think he still looks to have a slight edge here this week.
2-2 tie (Phi advances)

Miami Sharks vs San Francisco Mechanics
The most important match of the week (of course) pitting the defending champs against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs 2 years ago.
Becerra - Wolff: Wolff I think is greatly underestimated in this game, he's rusty, but really hasn't show bad form, the game against Christiansen was a tough fight I give Becerra a slight edge in this match.
Bhat - Lugo should be good for Bhat, I don't even think he has a draw with white so far in the league and Lugo can get in some trouble sometimes with some superficial ideas which Bhat can be particularly good at punishing.
Martinez- Zilberstein
Supposedly Martinez has the better score, but I think Zilberstein's shown quite a bit of maturity in his games these past 2 seasons I pick Zilberstein.
Young-Barredo Young had one big collapse this year, I think if he learned from that game he'll be a much stronger player. I like Young with the white pieces.
SF ove Mia 3-1

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

USCL Week 10 Predictions

I actually gained nominal ground next week, this week will likely not be as good. I'm busy tonight so only very quick predictions.

Boston over Phi 3-1
Strong line-up for Bos and riding the sox winning the series should be good for them.

Queens over Bal 2.5-1.5

NJ over NY 3-1
Mackenzie should be key.

Carolina ties Ten 2-2
What do you do when you're finally not the underdog?

SF over Dal 3-1
Because I'm a pro-SF prediction hack.

Sea over Mia 2.5-1.5
Bringing out Lee should turn out to be a clutch move.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

USCL Rest of Week 9

Already 1/1 this week, feels good, hasn't happened to me too often. Now on for the rest, I have to try to gain some ground just to finish with a respectable score in the league.

Philadelphia Investors vs New York Knights
I think this is Lapshun's debut in the league, I don't know too much about him other than a good story from my friend Eugene Yanayt who before playing in his first New York Masters had nightsweats fearing 1.b4 from Lapshun. I think NY has a slight edge net from the top 3 boards and Philly a slight edge on the Bottom. I think I like NY a little more overall.
NY over Phi 2.5-1.5

New Jersey - Baltimore
A lot of really close games in this match, but I think I like NJ on board 1 just a little better and don't have anything great to say elsewhere, that said, NJ has underperformed quite a few times.
NJ ties Bal 2-2

Queens Pioneers - Boston Blitz
Big guns lineup for the blitz, a strong squad. The key here is that Krasik will have to be much quieter when the rest of his team plays if he loses so he'll manage not to.
Bos over Queens 3-1

Carolina Cobras - Miami sharks
With Miami bringing out a weakened lineup this weak I don't think they stand much of a chance against a Carolina team needing to make a strong push to a shot at a playoff spot If Carolina can with 4-0 they'd actually be ahead on tiebreaks form what I quickly read on the league site, this seems like an absurd prediction, but remember Miami was the team to originally end Tennessee's no-win streak last season when bringing a weak lineup in week 9.
Car over Mia 4-0

Tennessee Tempo - Dallas Destiny
Dallas knows not to relax when the season is coming down the final stretch, bringing out a talented lineup to take on the tough tempi(is that right?). I think tennessee will hold tough, but number one rule for the Tempo, 3-1, 2.5-1.5, it's all a loss, they keep pushing.
Dal over Tenn 3-1

Sunday, October 21, 2007

USCL Monday Night Week 9

San Francisco Mechanics vs Seattle Sluggers
This has become a good rivalry in the league, especially on board 1. White has won all 4 encounters between Serper and Friedel and it looks like there's a good chance for it to happen again especially with Friedel's results with white (despite his claim otherwise).
Board 2 also looks good with Bhat at the helm and his tremendous record, I don't want to oversell him, but I will say what's really helped him this season is tough fighting always looking for strong ways to defend and continue fighting for points in tough positions.
Board 3 features Donaldson the other SF MVP candidate (I'm speaking in terms of the league MVP, every player is valuable to the Mechanics) I think his chances with white are quite good.
Board 4 is the rematch of Naroditsky and Sinanan, even though Sinanan has a fantastic first name and got the better of it last time I think this match will be very even and Naroditsky has been playing well looking at recent results (and now even holds the higher rating).
I know it's sounded like my predicitions have been one-sided for SF, and well things actually look good for the Mechanics.
SF over Sea 3-1

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

USCL Week 8 Predictions

First, I would like to explain what makes a good prediction. Sometimes predictions have to be a little controversial and what's more controversial that just being wrong? I certainly can't think of anything so I'm glad you all agree.

New Jersey vs Boston
Boston should be the favorite, but somebody didn't tell New Jersey that, both teams stacking the top of their lineups. If Boston wins on 1+2 I will likely look foolish, but I'm going to predict a tie here, looks like there are too many close games that have a good chance of being decisive.
NJ ties Bos

Baltimore vs Philadelphia
Another match that looks evenish down the line, I particularly like Philly's bottom 2 boards in this match (yes, more than I like Boston's bottom 2 in their match) and since my Diamondbacks failed where the 2004 Redsox succeeded (coming back from a 3-0 defecit) I have not grief over this either.
Phi over Bal 3-1

Miami - Tennessee
If Miami can beat San Francisco, they can beat anybody (even if they haven't), but by how much, but they've got a pretty nice situation board by board here.
Mia over Ten 3-1

Carolina Cobras vs San Francisco Mechanics
Bhat takes board 1 to get revenge for Friedel. The key for SF is going to be boards 2 and 3 where Carolina puts up some traditionally strong performers. Looks good for them though.
SF over Car 3-1

Dallas vs Seattle
Seattle seems to really like it when I pick them to lose, mostly by ripping on me whenever I do. Take this seattle.
Dal over Sea 2.5-1.5

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Week 8: Monday Prediction

Surely by now this season some of you have come to notice my impressive prediction ability this season capped last week by my 0-6 record. I will not defend my actions, in fact I place the blame on myself. Last season I was a regular watcher of the league and while I accept the high likelyhood that I was merely lucky, I did it with authority. This year I can't claim any authority, I don't watch San Francisco play live every week (sadly) and in fact quite often I don't get home until after the days' games are over. I certainly don't have time to replay them and my chess and predictions have both suffered from this overworking (the latter of course being of much greater importance). Either way, I encourage you take these predictions with an extra grain of salt.

New York Knights vs Queens Pioneers
Some fairly close matchups down the boards, I think it is again the anticipation of the league to see if Nakamura can notch his first USCL win, I think it's becoming quite a burden on him, it's difficult to imagine he would struggle this badly. I do remember a poor start to the 2006 US Championships after going into the event as the defending champion, but he did come back in a fierce rally to almost tie for first in his division (on which I believe he would have lost on tiebreaks). Maybe that's his plan here, he probably has to start soon or never. I think it'll be soon. On other boards it's hard for me to make strong statements, I can say that the Queens do have 2/3 whites on these boards where the edges are unclear. Overall I think the knights have a small edge.
NY over Queens 2.5-1.5

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rest of Week 7 Predictions

Boston - New York
Boston taking some time off celebrating their large lead? No, I don't think that's it. I think this is going to come down to Naka taking some time on his clock to make some critical decisions, so far the internet forum hasn't proved to be the place for him so I think I still like Boston here. (That and last season I picked them almost every week and did well, I gotta mix something up).
Bos over NY 2.5-1.5

Baltimore Kingfishers - Queens Pioneers
Baltimore brings out the big guns trying to close the gap on Boston, this won't be the week, but I like the effort.
Bal over Queens 3-1

...... here is where my internet died last night, only have time for some quick predicitons, sorry:

Carolina vs Tennessee
Tennessee brings out their strongest lineup ever, there should be chances for all 3 match results, but I think Carolina is still slightly favored.
Car over Tenn 2.5-1.5

SF vs Miami I like SF on boards 1,2,3 closer on board 4, having played both board 4s I'll say that they're both tough, but probably Miami has a slight edge here.
SF over Mia 2.5-1.5

Seattle vs Dallas
Seattle faces their kryptonite, it's really very close, but I think I have to give the edge to Dallas.
Dal over Sea 2.5-1.5

Sunday, October 07, 2007

USCL Monday Night Week 7

Monday Night Prediction:
Philadelphia Masterminds vs New Jersey Knockouts
Philadelphia leads out not quite with their traditional lineup but one that should be strong I would look for very close fights on boards 1-3 with maybe a slight net edge for New Jersey and then and edge for Philadelphia on Board 4, I predict a tie.
Phi TIES NJ 2-2

Sunday, September 30, 2007

USCL Week 6 Predictions

I think finally I had a week that was worthwhile in predictions but still not up to the standards I've started to expect for myself. Anyways, SF plays Boston this week so obviously there's a lot to talk about.

New Jersey Knockouts vs Carolina Cobras
New Jersey is coming out this week with their full-metal lineup it looks like, fresh off their first win they're looking to keep the trend going.
Benjamin - Milman: New Jersey should have an edge on this board, Benjamin has looked good this season Milman struggled a little bit against GM opposition.
Schroer - Ippolito
I would say the biggest risk for NJ here is that Ippolito tries a little too hard avoiding his more solid opening choices and ends up getting stuck somewhere unfamiliar. However, I think NJ should have a slight edge here.
Zaikov has struggled a little more this season than last, but I think he's still looking to preform well, this should be an even match.
Jones- Lian
I like Jones in this matchup, I don't expect him to lose to another kid so soon and his rating advantage here is much more significant.
New Jersey over Carolina 2.5-1.5

Miami Sharks vs Queens Pioneers
Becerra -Stripunksy is a very strong encounter, I expect Becerra to have the edge as he can be very tough with the white pieces.
Vovsha -Martinez I like Vovsha a little bit better with white, slight edge for Queens.
Moreno Roman -Zhao Definitely a clear edge for Miami here.
Bierkens - Socorregut
Slight edge to Queens here, but I think draw is more likely.
Miami's edges seem better than Queens
Mia over Queens 2.5-1.5

Dallas Destiny vs Philadelphia Inventors
Boskovic - Kudrin
Looks pretty even, no edge to either.
Smith - Kuljasevic Slight edge for Smith, but all 3 results possible in a relatively even matchup.
Stopa - Costigan Costigan should be solid, but Stopa is strong enough he should have a substantial edge.
Wilson - Zorigt: Edge to Wilson with the white pieces.
Dal TIES Phi 2-2

Baltimore Kingfishers vs Tennessee Tempo
Enkbhat - Burnett: A close matchup, I won't give either player an edge.
Andrews- Kaufman : Edge to Kaufman as Andrews feels the (justified) burden to overextend himself to try to score a point for a team where he is probably the best chance to score at the top.
Rohonyan - Wheeler Wheeler has struggled a bit lately giving his opponents extra chances to try to win, I like Rohonyan's chances.
Larsen - Battsetseg Slight edge for Batsettseg.
Bal over Tenn 3-1

Boston Blitz vs San Francisco Mechanics
This is definitely a highlight of the season for me. The match between the East and West's best regular season records from last season.
Christainsen - Wolff
Wolff has looked fine in his 2 performances so far and I imagine will continue to rebuild his form, that being said Christiansen has white and is no fish, I think Christiansen has a slight edge.
Bhat - Kelleher
Until I see otherwise I'm not going to predict anything for Bhat other than a strong result, Bhat gets the edge.
Shmelov - Donaldson
Edge to Donaldson even with the black pieces.
Young- Williams
Williams is probably slightly stronger, but Young is a tough opponent and has the white pieces (I've suffered a few times myself on this end of this tough opponent), probably very slight edge for Young.
SF over Bos 2.5-1.5

New York Knights vs Seattle Sluggers
Nakamura - Serper
My guess is Nakamura will go right into Serper's favorite sicilian. It fits his style well and Serper likes to get himself in time trouble, should be good for Nakamura if he can begin to concentrate a little better in some of the more critical moments of his games in the league.
Orlov - Krush
Orlov has white and is a particularly tough opponent he should have the edge with white.
Bonin - Readey
Bonin has been playing well so it's temping to give him my vote for this one, but... Nevermind I will.
Sinanan - Zenyuk
This should be close, I think it should slightly favor Sinanan, but should be relatively even.
NY over Sea 2.5-1.5

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rest of Week 5 predictions

What has happened to me? My luck coming to an end? Tired work weeks impairing my prediction judgement? Mechanics not the 4-0 I've predicted? Whatever it is, it must come to an end.

New Jersey Knockouts vs New York Knights
Charbonneau definitely has some advantage in youth and activity, but I will not sell Benjamin short, he should have the edge with white.
Hess has a lot of talent, can at times be inconsistent, but youth and rating give him the edge.
A battle of youth on board 3, I don't know too much about either of them, but I know I've seen some impressive games from Arnold that give me confidence to give him the nod with black.
Zenyuk- Ju, should be close probably a slight edge for Ju, but not much.
Close, better chances for NY who still seems to have some fire left.
NY over NJ 2.5-1.5

Boston Blitz vs Baltimore Kingfishers
Christiansen - Blehm should favor LarryC, he lost last time, but not before developing a strong position with black.
Enkbhat - Sammour-Hasbun : Hasbun defended well in 2 games, Enkbhat probably won't try to take of off the board so drastically, but either way I like his chances.
Martiorsov - Rohonyan Should be pretty even, 3 results possible and decisive likely, but still even.
Battsetseg - Krasik : Krasik seems to have trouble in games like these, honestly don't like his chances much as he can get a little overconfident. That being said, he can play and his chances can't be so bad.
Boston over Baltimore 2.5-1.5

Queens Pioneers vs Philadelphia Inventors
Stripunksy-Kudrin Stripunksy has been playing very well in the last year while Kudrin is probably past his prime form edge to Stripunsky.
Smith-Vovsha: Both players who show good classical knowledge and aggressive style should be a balanced game.
Critelli - Costigan: Costigan has a strong lineup in front of him this week and doesn't need the same kind of opportunities, he's performed well in the league and I give him a slight edge.
Wilson-Thaler: I'm a fan of wilson's play in the league, what can I say, I give him the edge.
Phi over Queens 2.5-1.5

Tennessee Tempo vs San Francisco Mechanics
Burnett - Wolff: The question for this game is if Wolff can find good form. He didn't look bad in his first game so I give him the edge.
Donaldson - Andrews
John looked very good last week, solid, not afraid to take some chances and showed a good nose for blood, he can be quite poisonous with white especially against a relatively inexperienced opponent.
Shankland can be really tough, is vulnerable, but he's been playing well and I give him the edge.
Naroditsky - Wu
Naroditsky lost in an unfortunate manner last week but I think his mistake was going away from his normal style, no need for him to try to play unfamiliar positions this week for him so I give him the edge.
Tennessee has made some things close this year, but I think SF is in a good position to try to regain some ground
SF over Tenn 3.5-0.5

Carolina Cobras vs Seattle Sluggers
Milman - Serper
Serper is tougher with white than with black where his predictable repetoire can make him vulnerable, I like Milman here.
Mikhailuk - Schroer
Mikhailuk has been more active (I might be wrong) I believe and the rating difference is not so big so with with white I think he's preferred.
Zaikov - Schmidt
I think this game should be a close one, Zaikov was quite strong last year, he's had some tough games against some tough opponents this year.
Michael Lee- Craig Jones:
Lee was quite solid last year for Seattle, Jones can also be quite good, but especially with white I like to favor youth.
Slight edge for Seattle.
Sea over Car 2.5-1.5

Maybe you're safer predicting the exact opposite though.....

Monday, September 24, 2007

USCL Monday Prediction

Just realized I forgot to post a prediction for monday:
Dallas over Miami 2.5-1.5

Sunday, September 16, 2007

USCL Monday Night Week 4

In case I don't get time to make another aweful prediciton, I predict boston over NY 3-1.

So I'm sure some of you out there might be shocked by my bold prediction. Well the key is take whatever you expect Boston to do and add at least 1 point to it. Sure, board by board it doesn't look too impressive for Boston. Nakamura should have an edge on board 1, Perelshteyn counters with an edge on board 2. Bonin on board 3 should be a bit better and Williams on board 4 should have the edge. Looks like the perfect line for a 2-2 tie, but you have to remember that Boston has the team factor, I really think this is what drove both them and San Francisco to such strong results in the regular season last year. I have been overlooking this so far this season. So really this just gives Boston much better chances of holding/ winning on boards where they should be worse.

Queens vs NJ
A rematch of the week 1 tie. A few changes for both teams and a color flip. This time I can more confidently predict something at least slightly offbeat by Stripunsky against Benjamin. Board 1 is pretty close Board 2 should favor the Queens, but boards 3 and 4 I like NJ so I give NJ the slight edge in the match.
NJ over Queens 2.5-1.5

Phi vs Bal
Philadelphia is missing Kudrin this week and Baltimore debuts their top GM. Baltimore should have an edge on board 1, I trust Costigan to keep it close on board 2 but ultimately he should be on the worse side of thigns, but Philly looks good on boards 3/4 which should give them good chances to hold the match.
Phi TIES Bal 2-2

Tennessee Tempo vs Miami Sharks
If you remember, Tennessee scored their only historical team win against Miami at the end of last season, this week however Miami is showcasing a tougher line-up. Miami has a substantial edge on boards 1 and 4 and less so on boards 2/3, but still very promising. I predict a 3.5-0.5 victory for Miami.
Mia over Ten 3.5- 0.5

Dallas Destiny vs Carolina Cobras
This looks very close on Paper, Carolina has been playing with a large core of its original members from season to season. This experience in making good team judgments should help them.
Car over Dal 2.5-1.5

Seattle Sluggers vs San Francisco Mechanics
Obviously the most important match of the week (since it involved the Mechanics). It features one of the most exciting matchups of last season in Serper-Friedel. These 2 played 3 matches last season. This produced 2 games of the week and 3 decisive results. Friedel got quite a bad position in his one game as black, however it was shown here:
that Serper did slip up at one point. I think over the last year watching Friedel's games he's become a much tougher defender and I expect this to be a pretty balanced game with my bias going towards Friedel.
On board 2 we have Orlov-Pruess. Last season Orlov got his taste of Bhat, this time around he's looking at Pruess who has had a somewhat disappointing couple of weeks, he seems to do better when he's playing stronger opponents though so this should be a good chance to turn that around with the white pieces.
Board 3 there is an interesting match Readey-Donaldson. Donaldson was a long-time resident of Seattle and I'm guessing has had quite a bit of experience with Readey. My guess is his stronger level of play and experience against this specific opponent should make things quite difficult for Readey.
Board 4 features Daniel "kid" Naroditsky against Seattle's young player Sinanan. Naroditsky has white against a lower rated player so this looks quite good for him.
This week looks quite promising for SF.
SF over Sea 3-1

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rest of USCL Week 3 Predictions

Miami Sharks vs. Carolina Cobras
Should be an interesting board 1 matchup, Becerra an established GM against Milman a strong talent of american chess. Slight edge to Becerra with white.
Board 2 features Schroer vs Lugo with Schroer still trying to score his first point in the league while lugo has been solid, I feel like I need to give Lugo the nod.
Board 3 is Martinez-Zaikov. One of the tougher opponents Zaikov has faced, then again, it doesn't seem to matter that much for him, I give Zaikov the nod.
On board 4 Jones-Maderos Jones gets the nod over the relatively unproven Maderos with the lower rating.
Looks pretty even, roughly equal chances for each side to break through.
Mia TIE Car 2-2

Queens Pioneers vs Dallas Destiny
Board 1: Stripunsky - Broskovic
Stripunsky has rating, experience in the format and the white pieces, looks good for him.
Board 2: Vovsha - Kuljasevic
Should be pretty close, but Vovsha looked very sharp in his first match in the league season so I'm giving him the nod.
Board 3: Stopa- Zhao
Stopa has a substantial rating edge and the white pieces, I'm picking him to take the board with a steady edge.
Board 4: Zorigt-Thaler
Zorigt looked a little shaky in her league debut, but nothing that can't be overcome with a second shot, she's got the rating edge and the white pieces.
Again close, but I think the boards 3 and 4 edge for Dallas seems more substantial than Jersey's higher board edge, I give Dallas the nod.
Dal over NJ 2.5-1.5

Seattle Sluggers vs Tennessee Tempo
The famous week 1 matchup from last year which had the leagues first ever 4-0 sweep. However, Tennessee has looked a lot stronger this year and I wouldn't expect such a route.
Board 1: Tangborn-Burnett
Tangborn might have what it takes to contain Burnett's active style and has looked solid when he holds the white pieces. I'm going to give him the nod.
Board 2: Andrews -Schmidt
Schmidt didn't impress me particularly in week 1, feel free to prove me wrong but Andrews hasn't looked too bad in spite of his 0.5-1.5 record.
Board 3/4: Seattle has loaded up the bottom of their lineup with a fairly balanced team, looks like they're giving themselves good chances on both of these, clearly favored on both boards.
Sea over Ten 3-1

Sunday, September 09, 2007

USCL Week 3 Predictions

I haven't done well so far with my predictions, but I blame a vast conspiracy against me by over/underperformers in the league being unpredictable.... so far.

San Francisco Mechanics vs New York Knights
Even though this pits a 1.5-0.5 team against an 0-2 team this is probably the week's most exciting match-up.
Board 1: Bhat (SF) - Nakamura (NY)
An interesting matchup. Bhat has been hot lately in all of his chess and has had amazing results in the league. Nakamura has a solid 200 point rating advantage. However Bhat is a Mechanic which gives him that something extra (oh yea, my biased prediction). I'd say given the white pieces and recent performances the chances are about equal.

Board 2: Krush (NY) vs McCambridge (SF)
Krush has had a slightly better performance in the league and has the white pieces, she should have a slight edge but McCambridge can be tricky and sometimes Krush can be overly predictable.

Board 3: Pruess (SF) vs Bonin (NY)
If you think Pruess is dangerous on board 3, wait until you see him the week after a loss. Edge to SF on board 3.

Board 4: Young (SF) - Herman (NY)
Their ratings are actually fairly comprable and Young has had some good results lately and I wouldn't underestimate the tough kid at all.
My prediction: SF wins 2.5-1.5

Philadelphia Masterminds vs Boston Blitz
Battle of the undefeated teams. Philadelphia has built on their experience without a true board one to form a tough team this year with a regular board 1. Boston continues to rally on the strong regular season they had last year.
Board 1: Kudrin(Phi) - Perelshteyn(Bos)
Kudring with the white pieces vs Perelshteyn with black, should be a pretty even matchup, slight edge to Kudrin with white.
Board 2: Sammour-Hasbun (Bos) - Smith(Phi)
Boston should have an edge here, but this is the board where I think Phi could potentially steal the match.
Board 3: I dont' know too much about these players, but Boston's board 3 has looked solid in his 2 games so far. Edge to Boston here.
Board 4: Elvin Wilson continues to perform well in the league so I think I need to give Philly the edge on board 4.
My prediction: 2-2 Tie

Baltimore Kingfishers vs New Jersey Knockouts
Board 1: Blehm is solid, but Benjamin should have a slight edge even with black.
Board 2: Ippolito didn't look so strong last week, but I don't expect a repeat performance, edge to NJ here as well.
Board 3: Rohonyan has played well so far this season but ran into a tough opponent in week 2, I expect this to continue. Edge to Baltimore.
Board 4: Edge goes to youth and rating on board 4 despite colors, edge to Baltimore.

It looks very even, but overal I think Baltimore has a much better chance of breaking through
Baltimore over NJ 2.5-1.5

Rest of Week 3 predictions coming soon.....

Monday, September 03, 2007

USCL Week 2 Predictions

So week one was a weak performance by me, also it seems the scoring system has been changed a little, but I'm not going to complain as I think in general it's a better system.

Boston Blitz vs Queens Pioneers
Board 1: GM Christiansen vs GM Ibragimov
This is definitely the power-match of the week, an important board for boston too, if Christiansen can get a half point or a full poin it should be good enough to put the blitz in good position, he probably has a very slight edge too over Ibragimov. Ibragimov is obviously more active as a player, but Christiansen can be a beast with the white pieces.
Board 2: This should be a little closer than it looks on paper, Kleiman can definitely put together some high quality games and his preparation is generally good, but I think the edge goes to Sammour-Hasbun.
Board 3: I'm not really familiar with either of these players, but I think the edge goes to Queens.
Board 4: Krasik personally asked me to trash him a lot here (or maybe not), but either way I will say he's pretty inconsistent so basically are we seeing a Krasik that can play on Wednesday or normal Krasik? I'll give it a 50/50 and call this board a wash.
Boston over Queens 2.5-1.5

Carolina Cobras vs Baltimore Kingfishers
Board 1: Clear edge to Milman, very talented player, also higher rated and has the white pieces.
Board 2: Schroeor's back for Carolina vs Kaufman of Baltimore. Kaufman seems to play a little more so an edge for him especially with white.
Board 3: "You can't stop Zaikov, you can only hope to contain him." Rohonyan impressed me with her smooth win last week, but Zaikov has been a beast in the USCL and I expect this to continue.
Board 4: This is a pretty close match, but I think I need to give the edge to Jones due to Zimmers poor performance so far in the league.
Carolina over Baltimore 3-1

New York Knights vs Philadelphia Inventors
Board 1: Charbonneau seems to do better in situations where he's not such a huge favorite. That being said, what happens when two dragoneers face off? My guess is white doesn't play 1.e4, but then what does he play? Either way I give a very slight edge to Charbonneau.
Board 2: Krush had a frustrating loss last week and is sure to be looking for revenge. Smith so far has had rather poor results in the league, then again he's spent most of his time fighting off board 1 with Ehlvest gone in Europe most of last season. I give him the edge on board 2
Board 3: Hess has clear edge, next.
Board 4: Herman can be tough, but Wilson has had strong results in the league so i'll give him the edge here.
New York Knights tie Philadelphia 2-2

Tennessee Tempo vs New Jersey Knockouts
Edge to Jersey on boards 1,3,4 (although slighter on board 1). I'll pick Jersey to win 3.5-0.5 (corrected)

Dallas vs SF
The matchup everybody's been waiting for (or at least I have).
Board 1: I have no idea what kind of form Wolff's in, but knowing Donaldson he'll make sure Wolff's ready to play at least. Wolff was also former us champion so I think he gets the go ahead here.
Board 2: Bhat gets white on board 2 he also holds the league's highest performance rating to date. That said Bartholemew is no slump, but I think Bhat should have the edge here.
Board 3: Last year Pruess couldn't quite break through Stopa's sveshnikov, but sometimes the white pieces come with this burden. I think slight edge goes to Pruess.
Board 4: A battle of the young guns, unfortunately for Dallas Young is Younger... Okay enough horrible jokes, This should be a close fight, but Young doesn't have the burden of being a full time college student (I assume Zorigt is).
SF over dallas 3-1

Miami Sharks vs Seattle Sluggers
Board 1: Edge to Becerra with the white pieces who has performed pretty well in the league.
Board 2: Slight edge to Tangborn on board 2 where the white pieces and a solid playing style should let him play without too much risk. (Key board!)
Board 3: Edge to Mikhailuk who has performed well in the league and significantly outrates his opponent.
Board 4: Edge to Miami here with the substantially higher rated player.
Miami TIES Seattle 2-2

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rest of Week 1 Predictions

I'm eagerly anticipating the start of the season, here are my thoughts on the week 1 matches:

Baltimore vs NY Knights:
NY is bringing out a tough line-up with punch top to bottom, Clear edges for NY on boards 1 and 4, slight edge on board 2 for NY and a reasonably close match on board 3 I'll slate NY to take this one handily. An important part of NY's results this season will be their results on the bottom 2 boards. Part of the benefit/problem with having talented youth on board 4 is the inconsistency of youth. Arnold could beat a strong IM one weak and look like a weak master the next. I'm sure he'll gain a steady footing as his chess improves, but it's difficult to hold strong results from week to week sometimes. If he can stay strong, the Knights will win their fair share of matches this season.
NY over Bal 3-1

Philadelphia vs Miami
Philly fans have something to really be excited about this year, they have a team that could be a legitimate contender. If Kudrin can hold fort on the tough board 1 for them the rest of their lineup is capable of some legitimate results. Miami had trouble keeping things together last season and fell apart towards then end. This match looks fairly even top to bottom I think Philadelphia has the white pieces on the boards where it'll matter a little more, I give them the slight edge as they've always been a legitimate team when they've had a real board 1 playign for them.
Phi over Miami 2.5-1.5

Dallas vs Tennessee
Tennessee really isn't as bad a team as their results suggest on paper. Philadelphia will certainly want to destroy them if they get a chance to this season as an impossible loss was to blame for Philadelphia being left out of the playoffs last year. Dallas again has their united nations team going for them but it's a strong united nations team. Tennessee isn't more than 150 points lower on any board and they even have a slight edge on board 4 on paper. I think it'll be a clean victory for Dallas, but that they'll get dinged somewhere for a point.
Dallas over Ten 3-1

San Francisco vs Carolina
The SF squad this year is quite ridiculous. At least 5 of the 8 players on the team have 2 GM norms or more if I'm not mistaken (and I don't know what exactly McCambridge's status is there), that gives them quite a bit of punch all the way down to board 3. Then on board 4 there'll be time shared between a duo of talented youngsters in the country. It wouldn't be impossible to have 4 GM titles on this team by the end of the season or more. Carolina is putting together a similar squad to last year led by the strong and also almost-GM Lev Milman. Josh Friedel vs Lev Milman puts two of the soon-to-be-GM club in a head to head battle to lead off the season. Edge goes to Friedel here with white, but I know this faceoff has some blood behind it. Boards 2 and 3 have a clear edge to the Mechanics and board 4 is fairly even so the Mechanics can be fairly confident going into this contest.
SF over Car 3.5-0.5

Seattle vs Boston
Missing Orlov on board 2 from their lineup in week one will make things difficult for seattle who boasted an impressive regular season record last year before falling to the eventual USCL champions. Boston had a great regular season run last year as well but is also lacking some of the punch they usually bring week to week with Perelshteyn missing on board 2. Either way this should be a tough match. I think it's pretty close on all boards, maybe a slight edge to seattle on board 3 and a slight edge to boston on board 1, overall I think there will be a pair of decisive games each way and a pair of draws to even it out.
Sea TIEs Bos 2-2

Friday, August 24, 2007

US Chess League: Deserving of a post!

What? Me posting? It's almost as if I dont' even play chess anymore. Another season, a different city for me to watch from and about 1/4 the free time I used to have. This season looks to be exciting, more top players getting involved, more promising youth involved, and lineups juiced more than a certain bay-area slugger.

I wish I was ready for some serious week 1 predictions, but it doesn't seem all the lineups are ready yet. But we have a week one match between two expansion teams that should bring some serious excitement to the league. You would think that the new addition of two new tri-city teams would thin out the talent pool in the league, but if anything it seems to have made it deeper and brought out GMs from their hiding places. The very first match of the season features two GMs on board one, not something that has been too common in past seasons. Anyways, here are the lineups:

New Jersey Knockouts Queens Pioneers
GM Joel Benjamin: 2653 GM Alex Stripunsky: 2626
FM Thomas Bartell: 2386 IM Eli Vovsha: 2501
NM Mackenzie Molner: 2355 FM Teddy Coleman: 2285
NM Evan Ju: 2268 WFM Julia Shiber: 2108

Board 1: I'm familiar with both these players, not too familiar with their individual games. I do remember a few nice games by both of them from the 2005 US championship. I also know I've seen both players play 1.e4 and try a few things BESIDES the open sicilian. I think there's a good chance of seeing something like taht in this matchup. Slight edge to Benjamin who I think is probably the slightly stronger player and has white.

Board 2: I'm not familiar with Vovsha at all, seen Bartell play a few nice games, this one is probably a little closer than it looks on paper, but I think the slight edge goes Vovsha who will have the white pieces this should be one of the most important boards for this match.

Board 3: Molner - Coleman
Molner is a former New York Knight. Coleman and he are both young players, Molner seems to be the stronger player but has had problems in some matches last season. Still I think Molner gets the nod on board 3, especially if NJ wants a real edge.

Board 4: Shiber-Ju
I think even with black slight edge to Ju, he seems to have more experience and his youth suggests he's underrated. Board 4 belongs to the kids this year as it has a few times this year.

Overall should be a good start the season.
My prediction: NJ wins 3-1 over Queens

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Southern California here I come....

I figured I'd update here. I have sad and happy news to report. I'm moving back down to Southern California for a new job. I would like to thank the chess community I've encountered up here, I've greatly enjoyed it. I will still be rooting for the SF Mechanics next year so they better win again... I hope I see all the great people I've met around at tournaments and other than that I wish you all the best.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Amateur Team West 07

US Amateur Team West

What happened to Caltech this year? Caltech had been a perennial contender (winning 3 of the last 4 and going into the last round in clear first in the other one), but this year we were missing out top board Patrick Hummel which convinced us to name ourselves "No Patrick, No Problem".
Last year we were good and lucky enough to win the event clear, this year we were much weaker (2020 vs 2197) and our last year's 2nd and 4th boards (Yanayt and I) were playing 1st and 2nd boards respectively this year. We had a rough start with Yanayt blundering from a completley won position in round 1 to tie a match we should've probably won despite this result. In round 3 we played the famous Hoo's the Next American Idol and despite being outrated on 3/4 boards only lost 1.5-2.5 and actually our board 3 was better the whole game and then played consecutive blunders throwing away the win on move 40 and losing the game outright on move 41, but such things happen in chess. We beat up some weaker team in round 4 and had a nice upset in round 5 fueled by our very consistant 4th board Mike Kaye's victory over a stronger player and myself on board 2 defeating a master as black (more on this below). In round 6 we were paired against a disappointed San Diego team whose top boards decided to call it an event and headed for the long drive home while their bottom two boards still wanted to play. We bravely allowed our lower boards to play the games to try to keep things as interesting as possible and they valiantly scored 1.5/2 to give us a very impressive result of 4.5/6 despite the early mis-steps. We tied for 4th overall and took 5th place on tiebreaks and 1st place U2100, I can say we can be happy with our early "Swiss Gambit". So sure, it wasn't first place, but this was the lowest rated Caltech team in the past 5 years and we still had a very solid result. Had it not been for some bad luck on our part we might have even been in contention.

My own results were kind of strange. In round 1 I was on the black side of a Slav and my opponent played one lazy move and then needed to accept an inferior position, but instead blundered allowing a nice tactic to win a piece and resigned before making his 16th move. In round 2 I was paired against another weaker opponent, this time as white. It was my first game against the Gruenfeld so I was slightly uncomfortable playing this very technical line I had prepared in general. My opponent played a few inaccurate moves and I was clearly better, but then he blundered allowing me to win a pawn and the bishop pair to which he apparantly decided he would rather be mated in one instead so I played 20. Qh7# (yes, I know you don't see the position) and again was the first one done on the team in under an hour. In round 3 I played the highest rated board 2 in the event in Joel Banawa who was sitting at a rating of 2380+. I missed my chance to generate serious counterplay, but may have still had chances to survive, but I blundered allowing him to win the exchange which I might have had some minimal compensation for if it werent for my followup trying to win the exchange back which I was lazy about calculating and missed (from far) that he had a nice tactic at the end of this line winning a piece and not losing the exchange back so I decided to resign instead of playing on down a whole rook. In round 4 I was paired down again, not quite so far this time and I got to play my first real game against the King's Indian, my opponent played a dubious (but common) variation and I gave a little lesson in ripping the queenside apart and not getting mated and I won fairly smoothly. In round 5 I was paired up to a 2278 as black. My opponent played the Exchange French which is a line that has definitely more poison than its reputation. If black plays lazily he can end up with problems developing his "free" french bishop. My opponent played a move that looked inaccurate in the opening and I found my chance to equalize completely. I realized from looking at the boards that I would probably need to win to give my team a real chance so I wanted to keep my chances high. I was quite proud of the move I found in the following position:

White just played 17. Qf5 (image generated from

I was black in this position against an opponent more than 150 points higher rated than me. I had forseen this position and felt I should be better, but I realized I was a little loose and if I wasn't careful my better minor pieces could become less of a factor than my loose queenside. However, I had prepared a shot in this position which I will post the result at the bottom of this post, so don't scroll down if you want to try to find the strongest move in the position on your own. By the way, this move only achieves a positional goal and clarifies the position, it does not win material or give some overwhelming advantage. I would say after this move the position is clearly =+.

Anyways, I went on to win this game (although even after the diagram my opponent had reasonable drawing chances) which had a nice finish for me as the game simplified to KNNB v K which I could have won faster, but decided to enjoy myself by winning with just KNB v K ignoring my other knight. In the last round I chose not to play a game (otherwise someone else on my team wouldn't have gotten a game) and decided to give the games to the teammates who would get the most interesting games. And our 3rd and 4th boards stepped up as I mentioned to net us the U2100 prize on tiebreaks.

My goals:
Well, I guess I had some miscalculations in game 3 which wasn't great, but it was a tough game and I can't be totally disappointed with it. I am not holding myself to a standard of never missing anything in my calculations as my current goal is still to break 2200 and I'm not insisting to be perfect as that would be unreasonable. I spotted some nice tactics in a few of my games and don't feel like I missed out on major opportunities for the most part due to lazy calculation.

Rating change: 2132 -> 2144 (2 points from my all-time high!)

Solution to diagram: 17... Qc8! White cannot play 18. Qxf6 because Be7 traps the queen so the white queen is excavated (he traded it off on c8).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

TNM: Round 5

I think I need to learn to be more vindictive at the chessboard. Not necessarily to my opponents, but to his moves. I think I definitely let my opponent off the hook for a couple of strange looking moves which just yielded an endgame which was probably superficially better for me, but should have been drawn. This is actually how I beat him last time as well. This time we went into a pawn endgame that should have been a draw, but offered me better chances (kind of a strange thing to say about a pawn endgame). Sure enough he didn't find the most accurate moves (although I will admit the only defense I've found is kind of ugly-looking) and he lost the game.

I'm a little upset with myself lately, I haven't been studying chess as much as I should, but I've been a little preoccupied with my social life, strange to say that as a chess player. This game kind of made me think of something interesting. In many chess positions we play, we have no sense absolutely as to whether the position is a win or a draw, but we can normally quantify some kind of "advantage", when is it okay to go into a position we know objectively is a draw, but will very often be a win in practice. For example the endgame K+R+B vs K + R is a theoretical draw, but given the opportunity to play this endgame from the attacking side or maintain some small, but definite advantage in an endgame I would probably choose to be the attacking side in K+R+B vs K + R as in practice the defender does very poorly. But then of course I would feel guilty that I simply ignored the "chess truth" in the position and instead took an overly practical point of view. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I think it's an interesting discussion. I guess the day some opening is worked out to a K+R+B vs K+R endgame we will see how much chess truth matters where we see if either 1, the white side avoids it or 2) the black side avoids it. Although I guess in a sense, neither side can be too happy. White didn't maintain a theoretical advantage and black gave a position where his losing chances are high and his winning chances are nil.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday Night Marathon: Round 4

This game wasn't a success by most measures. I gained some experience playing the white side of the Catalan. I'm still learning this opening and I carelessly played what looked like a natural move only to find that it was a true gambit of a pawn. I still had reasonable Catalan-like compensation, and I thought I managed to hold things together with a key exchange sacrifice that give one or two moves to consolidate (somehow I need to consolidate to be better, not the rook, it was strange) I would've had a nice position, but my opponent found some accurate moves to put the point away. Kind of sad, I missed a few opportunities in the middlegame, but I think I got a much better feel for the position which is necessary before I can really start analyzing it intelligently on my own.

Kind of a curious point here. It's very hard to simulate the ideas you get under game-pressure at home. I've tried, but the development isn't normal. Maybe I just need to work on the exercise a little more. I've been thinking about this a little. I guess part of the problem is it becomes a little trickier when if you miss an idea for one side you will likely miss it for both, but still it seems there should be some reasonable way of trying to do this type of exercise for an hour or so a couple of times a week. Find some middle-game position in an opening I play, try to put in serious time and do some solitaire chess. Afterwards take a quick look to see if any of my ideas had interesting merit, check them out and be done with it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tuesday Night Marathon: Status after round 3

I decided to give the Tuesday Night Marathon another go even after my heart-breaking finish in my last attempt. I am 2/2 as white so far which is slightly out of the ordinary for me lately, but these games were both playing down so we'll see how things go in future rounds. I'm 3/3 after 3 rounds overall, this tournament is one of the few FIDE-rated events in the bay area so I figured I should be playing in it with any attempt to get more rated games, starting next round I should get a crack at some of the stronger opponents, I just need to keep winning like I did last time so I can keep playing them. I would say my nicest game so far was a quick win in round 2 where my opponent played an inaccurate move order in the opening which I responded to with the best move and then my opponent overreached a little bit by playing moves which somewhat attempted to refute my opening which was a pretty good sign I would have resources to get a better position. I did, which he followed up by letting his queen get trapped so he had to sacrifice it for a rook and knight, but being behind in development and not having a reasonable place to castle he was doomed and resigned a few moves later. Round 1 I showed an amazing ability to miss the same idea multiple times as part of a tactical sequence to only amazingly see it later when it somehow still worked, I wasn't too proud of this performance, but hey, it got the job done.

Round 3:
This game I played okay, I think I missed some early opportunities to get a very large advantage, but I did manage to go into an endgame with a large positional edge and quickly won a pawn. After this I will admit I played somewhat inaccurately, but then something happened which isn't entirely new to me, my opponent, clearly being the defender and being a pawn down offered me a draw. Now, I will admit, I'm not 100% sure the position was winning at that point, but I'm positive it was not a trivial draw either. I've seen people do this and I think once you're above 1800 it's an absolutely rude and ridiculous thing to do, especially to a higher rated opponent. I even saw my good friend offer a draw to a grandmaster in a 4 vs 3 rook ending from the defending that may have been defensible from the defensible, although I have my doubts, but was certainly no clear draw. But I think any player above 1800 should at least follow this rule: if it is clear that your opponent is even nominally better and it's clear that you have 0 chances to win, do not offer a draw, it does not show your understanding of chess, what it does show is a lack of class. I especially love when these players then after the game tell you the position "was an obvious draw" after they go on and lose the game. I mean it is known that King + Bishop + Rook vs King + Rook is a draw, I expect 99.9% of players to make the defender play it out. It doesn't matter how trivial the drawing technique is by the way for an endgame, let the attacking side offer the draw, you show you understand what's happening on the board that way.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Western Class Championship Results

Western Class Championship Results

The tournament got a decent turnout, GMs Yermolinsky and Khachiyan both played along with IMs Sevillano, Matikoziyan, Pruess, Mezentsev, and Stein. I started out playing okay. I had an interesting game against Robby Adamson in my first game, I had a strong advantage, but made a couple of obviously bad decisions which allowed him to complicate the position with an unclear sacrifice that was much easier to play for him regardless of the true assessment. In my second game a strong expert from Arizona in what was a complicated positional struggle where an early decision to leave the king in the center was later a deciding factor after I defended for quite a while. In the third game I faced IM Mezentsev and I unfortunately walked into a little trap in the opening that left him (with the black pieces) with a better position and me with little active play, I tried to stir things up, but the position was already too bad and I lost in short order. In my 4th game I achieved a position with an extra pawn and a better position straight from the opening, but after one missed move and a couple of serious miscalculations I achieved a position where my opponent had a lot of counterplay despite being a pawn down, in this game I was particularly upset at the various missed tactics even though I saw some reasonably tricky ideas that were necessary to keep the game in control, but ultimately I was only able to draw. In the next game I was paired down and I made several bad decisions missing my chance to get the better of the position, but fortunately my opponent missed his opportunity to put me into serious danger and then in what was at best a slightly better position for me he actively blundered a piece to give me the game. This guy says he's a reader of my blog so I give him the utmost respect. In the last round I was paired agianst a slightly higher rated expert who I've played before, this game was flawed in many ways, I "tactically" won a pawn from the opening, but it turns out the tactic was flawed in a few fairly obvious ways that we both completely missed. After a few more moves I was essentially just a pawn up, but there were aggressive possibilities for both sides. I made a bad practical decision right before the time control (which I could have delayed until after the time control by repeating moves one more time) and then quickly blundered into mate. Overall I feel like I played well, unfortunately my struggles as white continued, it's arguable that I played my toughest opposition as white, but I got good positions in two of the games and then mishandled the positions completely so I think it's fair to say I need more practice both playing an analyzing these types of positions.

How I did at my goals?
Well, I didn't finish +1, in fact I finished -1, but I was within range. I was very good at spending 10-20 seconds on early moves making sure I didn't have two positions confused, thinking about what other options I had, I think this worked quite well as I felt like I didn't catch myself not thinking on any moves, now as to the quality of my thought that was a little lower than I was hoping for. I did miss a few of my opponents moves, but it was at least a rare occurrance. This doesn't sound like a complete success, but I am pretty satisfied and if I can continue this positive trend I will have good results in the future.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Western Class Championship

I'm going down to Agoura Hills, CA this weekend to play in the Western Class Championship. This year it's back to it's glory as a 7 round event (although I can't play tonight so I'll be taking a 1st round bye) after first being reduced to 6 rounds and then 5 rounds last year it's certainly a nice change of pace. Last time it was 7 rounds it got a very strong field, this year I doubt it will have as many strong players since the prize fund has since been reduced, but I imagine it will get the usual suspects from Southern California.

My goal for this tournament is to finish with a plus score, it won't be easy, but it shouldn't be impossible either. I guess in keeping with the spirit of my new year's resolution one of my other goals for the tournament is to reduce the number of moves where I spot critical variations only AFTER I move. So I guess wording it in an affirmative manner is make sure I'm actually calculating and not making superficial judgements. I know this may seem strange coming from a player of my rating, but I'm really not sure if I calculate more than like 2 or 3 moves deep in the deeper variations of my calculation except for when that is extended by forcing moves like checks, captures, or mate threats. I mean the latter part makes sense as those are the easiest variations to calculate. At the same time I don't want to start to become one of those players who spends ridiculous amounts of time on simple moves. Another goal for this tournament is to spend a little more time thinking in the opening. This doesn't mean I'm going to try to innovate significantly at the board, but I think spending 15-20 seconds at least on each move should help me get my wheels turning a little bit so I don't wake up in a middlegame position without having "warmed up". Should be nice to get a full 2 hours for the first 40 moves after my TNM game on Tuesday with only 90 minutes for the first 30 moves (believe me, although the ratio is the same it's a big difference).

Anyways, wish me luck.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2006 Review / Goals for 2007

2006 Review / Goals for 2007:

The year 2006 was a good year overall for me. Chess did not go as well as I had hoped. I figured I should reflect on my goals from last year, see where I hit and where I missed and make some new goals for 2007.

My goals last year were to:
1) Break 2200 USCF, preferably by the end of National Open
2) Reduce the frequency of offering/taking draws from superior positions.

Well on #1 I would say I failed, but I don't think I appreciated the difficulty I would face in trying to break this mark. So after the last tournament of 2005 (North American Open 2005) my rating was 2094 coming off of 2 strong results. This year started with some solid showings. I failed to show good form in a couple of rounds in last year's Western Class Championship, but then followed it with a strong 5.5/6 (4.5/5 played) at Amateur Team West to help my team win and with the 4th board prize. I followed that up with some reasonable results including a tournament I was quite happy with at Western Pacific Open where I think I showed some good chess, but had one game which I lost a totally dominating position due to missing the critical moment in the game. Probably due to a lack of confidence I had some bad results following that and lost most of my progress.

Then came my move to San Francisco which I started with a particularly lucky result to get a 4.5/5 in a g/45 tournament up here which was immediately followed with a heartbreaking Southern California state championships candidate tournament which went beautifully with a draw against my friends (as solid master) as black round 2 and a win over a strong expert in round 3 just to carelessly blunder a piece in round 4 and barely miss qualification. Again I saw a some mixed results in g/45 tournaments which doesn't particularly bother me so much as the results in such quick time controls can be somewhat random, but I had very bad showings in both the Northern California State Championships and the Western States Open in Reno while simultaneously having an amazing result in the Tuesday night marathon which I spoiled when I blundered execessively to get miniatured in the last round as white. Still though even through these bad results I luckily managed not to lose FIDE rating points in any of them while my USCF rating did a little very temporary dip below 2100. Lately I feel like I've been playing quite solidly with real chances to have breakthrough results, but I've kept coming short. American Open I managed to show a very sad quality of poor technique in winning my won positions which I was very disappointed with. I played the strong East Bay FIDE Swiss and had a solid performance there, but again missed some key opportunities in some of my games both where I could have failed to win a won game and where I failed to be as resourceful as I could in some of the other games. Then recently in Las Vegas I saw laziness in quite a few of my moves. I'm hoping this was just due to fatigue after just having finished a long tournament, but I will be very aware when I play in my upcoming event in 2 weeks.

Why didn't I break 2200?
I don't think I was working as hard and specifically on the right areas as I should have been. I've been making a serious effort to improve my calculation lately, I still feel like this is one area I'm significantly lacking in and I will continue to work on. Right now I have two problems in that I'm both a lazy calculator (I miss opportunities for both sides) and my calculations are a little slow, but there are instances where I've seen some improvement lately. I also think I underestimated the difficulty of this goal, but I feel confident that I'm closing in on this barrier.

What about the other goal?
I think I did a better job of declining draws in positions where I felt I was the one with more to play for, possibly a few slips from this, but for the most part I showed a good killer instinct in this respect. On the other hand I saw that I was having a lot of trouble winning won positions which I feel I should be able to win a very high proportion of the time.

Goals for 2007:
1) Break 2200 USCF (currently ~2128): I'm hoping this won't be as hard as it's seemed lately, I need to continue to work on my calculation.
2) Break 2200 FIDE (as it stands approximately 85 points to go): This will have the nice benefit of enabling me to play in such events as the Las Vegas Masters more easily, I think I need to fix some of the problems I have where I make bad decisions to lose the games in simple situations. This is particularly bad against lower rated players where I should win more often than not.
3) IM or GM scalp. I had more than a few good shots in 2006, the older and wiser me should be better at carrying through.

If anybody thinks of some more good ones that I should have I'd be more than willing to consider them.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Game of the Year 12th Place

Game of the Year 12th Place

Privman vs Krasik

This game contained mistakes yes, but it was not as if it was blunder-filled and the move Rxe4 was a very nice move to have on the board, I really think this really deserved some more credit in the voting. Imagine the match situation: Boston only won this match 3-1 so a loss for Krasik would have meant only a tie for the Blitz and Krasik still has the confidence to play the fantastic move Rxe4 when the consequences of a miscalculation would completely change the outcome of the match. I think it's a little strange not to take the situation in the match into serious consideration. I think Arun's ranking is probably more appropriate, a few other games were mostly given game of the week due to a few surprising moves and the comment "the technique was less than perfect, but good enough to win."

As for the lack of comments, this seems strange. How does nobody mention the importance that this game took place on board 4 in a close match between a gigantic sports rival. In the regular season the matches don't get much more exciting than New York - Boston unless San Francisco is involved and it seems overly criticizing the quality of the moves in a real game in a complex position is a little uncalled for. And where is the comment for the Shabalov + Vicary team vote? Here are a few of my (very serious) theories on what happened here:

1) Clint Ballard paid off the judges to make sure Krasik would not finish near the top, but unfortunately this was included in the comment.
2) Shahade didn't get the vote from Vicary and Shabalov in time and and decided to vote for two and figured voting for another team was enough, no need to put words in their mouth too.
3) Vicary and Shabalov decided to make genital jokes about Rxe4 and Shahade was trying to keep the comments at least PG-13.
4) To counter-act and east-coast bias in the geographical location of the judges Vicary and Shabalov decided to tank their vote on this game and explicitly mentioned this in their comment and to prevent controversy this was censored.
5) The comment reveled that it indeed takes exactly 43 licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop and Shahade decided to keep this secret to himself to try to raise money for the league with this ultra-sensitive information.
6) ???
7) Profit!

Anyways, I'd like to give a shout-out to Krasik who I met at last week's North American Open. It's always nice to meet more US Chess League personalities in real life, I hope those of you that read this blog ever will let me know what you think if you catch me at a tournament, at least those of you I don't already know are readers.

Monday, January 01, 2007

North American Open Result / New Year's Resolution

I'm pretty tired right now and I have work tomorrow, but I figured I'd post some brief results. I went 4/4 with black and 0.5/3 with white, this could be considered coincidental, but I think in all 3 games as white I had real opening problems in some sense. In my last 9 games as black I'm 6.5/9 with the only 2 losses coming against GMs. This is a solid result. I'd like to make my white results equally as good.

Chess New Year's Resolutions:
1) Improve my calculation and try to play fewer superficial moves at the board.
2) Improve my calculation.
3) Improve my calculation.

Monday, December 25, 2006

EBCC FIDE "swiss" result

The event finished without any spectacular or disasterous results. I beat NM Andy Lee in round 6 after I achieved a much better position, blundered it away in one move, and then had the favor significantly returned to me. In round 7 I lost to IM Pruess after chances were missed for both sides during the complications. In round 8 I recieved a forfeit due to some incidents. In round 9 I lost unfortunately smoothly to IM Sarkar after playing too aggressively in the opening. In round 10 I achieved a nice position from the opening against GM Panchanathan, then I played a few inaccurate moves to give him the advantage which followed him winning a second pawn but giving me real counter-play. He blundered allowing me to win a piece, but I was playing quickly as not trying to drag on the game and I thought I chose between two moves that were equally good, but he had a shot against my choice that didn't work against the other so he won the game quickly from there. All in all I feel what this tournament let me know the most was that I need to work harder on my calculations at the board and that I still have a few minor holes in my opening preparation that need some work. I need to slow down some of my decisions and calculate more thoroughly, but I believe if I can achieve this I can improve my results quickly.

Rating Change: 2119->2125

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

EBCC FIDE "swiss" half-way

So far I'm 1.5/5 for traditional scoring and 4/13 for BAP. I missed a forced draw in round one against IM Roussell-Roozmon, in round 2 I beat Mr. BAP himself, in round 3 I lost to FM Rensch who roughed me up. In round 4 I continue this losing to Sharavdorj as black although he's known for being particularly tough as white. In round 5 I got paired against Shankland, I missed on my guess for his prep and didn't know the line I played too well, but I defended pretty well and he rushed through the endgame so I managed to hold. Strange thing is in round 6 I'm paired against Andy Lee who is having a stellar tournament now with 3 wins in a row with the last two over IMs as black. Now I get him as black. THIS WILL BE MY 3RD BLACK IN A ROW! Oh well, I shouldn't mind, all my points so far are as black.

Monday, December 11, 2006



I guess the name of this tournament stuck even after it was changed from a swiss event to a BAP event. Maybe it should just be EBCC Norm tournament or maybe it should now be the EBCC FIDE Tournament, EBCC FIDE BAP, granted that last one is a little acronymn-packed. Of course the name is not so important, the tentative field so far (minus me) might be more important:

Name   Title FIDE USCF Fed
Magesh Panchanathan GM 2485 2526 IND
Jesse Kraai IM 2473 2545 USA
John Fedorowicz GM 2469 2517 USA
Dashzegve Sharavdorj GM 2463 2523 MGL
Lev Milman IM 2463 2504 USA
Josh Friedel IM 2460 2535 USA
Thomas Roussel-Roozmon IM 2446 2572 CAN
Vladimir Mezentsev IM 2409 2488 RUS
David Pruess IM 2404 2461 USA
Justin Sarkar IM 2380 2390 USA
Danny Rensch FM 2369 2428 USA
Andy Lee NM 2259 2257 USA
Batchimeg Tuvshintugs WIM 2237 2278 USA
Sam Shankland NM 2208 USA
Clint Ballard 2062 1914 USA


The tournament is a 10-rounder so presuming the field doesn't change (which is probably likely as it's less than a week before the start of the event)I will face a minimum of 5 IMs/GMs. That's a minimum of 5 cracks at doing what I've failed to do so far, secure a point (or fraction thereof) against an IM or higher. I'm not sure what my goal should be for this tournament, it might be that if I don't get on the board early it might be hard to make a comeback in this field. But I'll make some practical goals for this tournament:

1) No opening disasters, that is no lost positions right from the opening carried through for the rest of the game.
2) AT LEAST 2.5/10, this is not an easy goal, but I don't want to pretend like I'll be "happy enough" with 4/10 either, I will be trying to win all of my games (at the beginning of them) this tournament.
3) Practice reasonably good time management (don't play too fast or too slow).
4) Don't miss any good tactical shots my opponents give me.
5) Don't play any scared chess, be looking to punish moves I believe are "wrong".
6) Avoid getting taught "lessons" at the board, but make sure to have most opportunity to learn from each game.

Now some other possible, but not easy goals:
1) Beat an IM
2) Finish better than 2nd to last.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Guthrie McClain Memorial

Guthrie McClain Memorial

Okay, I was a little slow about writing this one up, sorry to my loyal fans. First round I won pretty smoothly. Second round I got a gigantic advantage out of the opening only to blow it away and I eventually won some same color bishop endgame after missing many wins in it where it may have even been drawn at some point (although I'm not 100% sure). Third round I played a low expert, I was careless in the opening and allowed a check to displace my king where I still stood well, but needed to play some active moves as despite my exposed king I was still ahead in development, I failed to do so and got an inferior position. I did create tricks in the position however which allowed me to come back and I even missed a simple win. I was still pushing in an opposition color bishop + rook endgame where in time trouble I blundered to allow a simplification into a dead-drawn opposite color bishop endgame, but the original endgame may have been drawn anyways. In the fourth round I faced the talented kid Nicholas Nip. As a note, in the current rating list I have now played (and gotten at least a draw) against the #1 age 8, age 10, age 11, and age 16. Nicholas surprised me in the opening being very well prepared after last time when he carelessly dropped a piece in the same opening. I got a tough position and tried to sacrifice an exchange to stay alive, but I played a few inaccurate moves and he collapsed my position. In the last round I played my friend Chad Salinas who I knew when we were both in Southern California. I actually misplayed the opening and he was probably already ok, but then he blundered away a crucial center pawn and resigned.

What can I say about this tournament? My score of 3.5/5 isn't great, but it's not terrible either. I wasn't too happy with my technique in round 2, and I shouldn't have missed simple stuff in round 3, in round 4 I wasn't happy, but my opponent played well, of course I'd prefer to "school" these grade-school prodigies, but g/45 is tough. In round 5 I need to study this opening line a little better (which I have some now and am even considering adding it as a possible defense as black), but at least I didn't miss my opportunities.

Rating Change: 2125 -> 2119

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

US Chess League Championships!!! My completely biased predictions

Okay, for the 2nd week in a row, I will be writing completely biased predictions which will be criticized and then end up being criticized for being biased even though I never claimed otherwise.

Board 1: IM Friedel - GM Charbonneau
Friedel has been untouchable this season as white except one game where he was defending and probably lost, but saved a draw after some middlegame inaccuracies. Will Charbonneau dare repeat this line with Josh having another chance to prepare? My guess is he'll probably play another 2.. e6 sicilian, but maybe a different setup this time, that one he played last time is actually one I faced this weekend and I have the feeling the very early d5 might be a little dubious. Edge still goes to Friedel who is always tough as white.

Board 2: IM Krush - IM Pruess
Krush has done quite well this season whereas Pruess' season hasn't been as good as he's hoped, but he came off a very strong result this weekend at the American Open and will come in with good confindence. I think stylistically this matchup should be very interesting, both players are strong calculators, I give Pruess the edge due to his strong recent results.

Board 3: IM Zilberstein - FM Hess
Hess has managed to save some tough positions this season, but Zilberstein is probably the second toughest opponent he's faced all season and Zilberstein is also coming off a strong showing at the American Open. Also Zilberstein has been quite strong this season, his only loss was to Vavrak who has been incredibly tough in the US Chess League. This is also only Zilberstein's 2nd game as white this season. My guess is Hess will put up a good fight, but Zilberstein will grind out the "W".

Board 4: Herman - NM Shankland
I think this time control works well for Shankland, he's capable of putting his opponents under pressure without suffering from the lack of time. As long as Shankland is well prepared I expect he'll have good chances, but Herman has also been tough, I'll rule this one a toss-up.

Okay, so we'll assume somehow NY gets their best possible result:
San Francisco over NY 3-1.

American Open Results

American Open Results:
Well, as I seem to spend a good deal of time here writing about the Mechanics, I might as well congratulate IM Pruess and IM Zilberstein for their performances this weekend. I would also like to congratulate my former (due to geographical restrictions) coach GM Khachiyan on his victory and his very nice win over GM Perelshteyn (who led almost the entire way). Pruess tied for 1st place in the tournament with Khachiyan. Zilberstein took clear first U2450, I talked to both of them after their games, both seemed very unhappy that they didn't do better! Apparently BOTH were upset about not scoring more, I invite them to take out their frustration with having each of their most recent games being a draw to turning their most recent games into wins on Wednesday in the US Chess League championships against New York.

[Update: I forgot to mention when I originally wrote this that not only did Pruess and Khachiyan win the event, their victories also qualified them for the 2007 US Championship. An additional congratulations to these two for this accomplishment.]

My result:
Well, my result I can't really call "bad", but in many ways I was unhappy with my play. I'll cover round by round. The first four rounds were game in 1 hour. In round 1 I played IM Matikozyan as black. He played a bad move against the french and I opted out of the most natural (and best!) reply to play a move over which I completely overlooked his response. I could accept a very depressing position, but instead I decided to sacrifice a pawn. This actually was probably not the correct decision, but anyways, he held onto his pawn and won the game although we were both under 1 minute at the end of the game and he had to find a fairly easy breakthrough to win, but still, not a great way to lose.

In round 2 I faced my friend NM Julian Landaw as black. A little history in this pairing: we've played 4 times now, I've had black in all 3 encounters. I collapsed quickly in our first meeting, but in the 2nd one I basically refuted his opening and in the 3rd game I again refuted the same opening, but failed to convert and drew the game. After this game, he entirely changed lines against the french and this time played a King's Indian Attack against it. We got an interesting position from the opening and after a few inaccuracies on my part he had a slightly better position, but I defended well and in the time scramble even developed an initiative after finding a series of accurate moves. In fact, at one point I had FORCED MATE! but it was tricky and I missed one move in the continuation that wasn't too hard to find. I'm quite upset about this as I saw the key idea just missed the simple continuation, quite sad. Even though I only had 1:30 on my clock I still believe I should find this win, I actually offered him a draw before he blundered not wanting a game between friends to be decided by a zeitnot blunder, and I guess it wasn't unfortunately. Eventually we drew although even in the final position (although under a minute + delay) I actually was still winning. If this were an isolated incident I could live with it.

Due to the small 3-day schedule in the open section I received a full point bye in round 3. Normally I much prefer to play, but after 2 games that went the full 2 hours I hadn't had any time to eat and was starving so I got to spectate in round 3. In round 4 I played 6. f4 against the Najdorf playing NM Paul Gallegos as white when I played a series of inaccurate moves in the opening which I was relatively unfamiliar with only to get an inferior position. I fought hard to defend in the middle game and eventually he went wrong by allowing some unfavorable exchanges and already I had a better position. At some point when we were both under 5 minutes he had a chance to just remain a pawn down in a R+ minor piece ending or to sacrifice his bishop for my 2 remaining pawns and defend R+N vs R+P which would have been unpleasant. Instead he let me trade into what is probably a winning R+P ending, but with less than a minute on my clock I reached for a pawn, grabbed it and immediately realized I had given up a draw. He decided not to take it and we played a few moves in this dead drawn position, but I defended with ease and we shook hands shortly afterwards.

So I had survived day one of what some were dubbing "the dead zone" due to the tough field (in fact, IM Zilberstein played UP in round 1. In round 5 I played a master from Austrailia a good piece of preparation netted me a winning position, but I failed to play some simple moves and got myself in trouble at which point I was relieved by my opponents draw offer. I was probably not worse in the position, but I certainly wouldn't mind playing the black side.

In round 6 I played my friend NM Ilya Serpik whom I have a very good record against. On move 23 I won a pawn, but I somehow moved my queen from an absolutely beautiful square on c3 and allowed counter-play and took a draw.

In round 7 I played NM Aigner who I had played recently played. He surprised me by playing the Sveshnikov and I got a good position, but it was complicated and I got myself into time trouble and played some bad moves to throw away my advantage and give my opponent a strong attacker, a good attack. He easily wiped me away and gave me my second loss of the tournament.

I should talk about my feelings going into the last day. I had played 6 rounds (okay, only actually played 5) and still hadn't put a win on the board, I was quite upset as at this point I had 4 games where I had winning positions. So in round 8 I prepared for a Caltech grad student Cedric Pahud who is from Switzerland. I had prepared for about 30 minutes the 6. f4 line against the Najdorf that I played in round 4, but when the position arose on the board I flippantly decided that I would play Be3 instead. My opponent played a side line that isn't supposed to be good, but I played some inaccurate moves and I did not get as big of an advantage as I think I could have. Anyways, we played on and I got a strong attack eventually, but allowed the position to complicate near time control (where I got in time trouble along with my opponent trying to find the strongest continuations. Eventually i won a pawn, but the position was very wild, but I found a strong continuation but my opponent eventually buckled under the pressure and allowed me to force mate. Finally a win!

Rating change: 2110-> 2125

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

USCL Division Championships Predictions

USCL Division Championships Predictions:

There are two exciting match-ups tomorrow night on ICC as part of the US Chess League. In the eastern division the Boston Blitz face off against the New York Knights in a classic sports rivalry while in the western division the San Francisco Mechanics take on the Seattle Sluggers of whom one of the biggest season rivalries took place with. Here's the breakdown of each match:

Boston Blitz vs New York Knights (Boston has draw odds)

These two teams met up just a few weeks ago with very similar lineups, the only differences on each side were board 1 for Boston and board 3 for New York, and the two games with the same players have colors reversed. Last time it ended in a 2-2 tie, this isn't good enough for New York this time around (although it wasn't ideal last time around either), which team has improved their chances more?
Board 1:
GM Christiansen - GM Charbonneau
These two have a colorful history in the USCL. In 2 encounters, both times Christiansen having the white pieces, he has failed get on the scoreboard and was posterized in the USCL game of the season from season 1 when Charbonneau managed to come back from a piece down (albeit complicated) position to win. I'm sure Christiansen is eager not to let his score drop to 0-3 with the white pieces and I expect him to have a slight edge in this encounter.

Board 2:
IM Krush - IM Foygel
The last time these two met up was just a few weeks ago with colors reversed. Foygel got the better end of that fight in a line he seemed to know better than Krush it seems unlikely the same thing will happen this week when Krush has the white pieces. Seems like the one thing you should be able to guarantee with the white pieces is getting a position you're comfortable with. Krush should have a slight edge in this match-up, probably similar to the one Christiansen has on board 1.

Board 3:
NM Riordan - FM Hess
This is in my opinion one of the truly tough games to try to say something useful about. I think Riordan having the white pieces should negate any rating edge Hess has, but all 3 results are possible, I think this one is pretty even but a decisive result is likely, could be an important game to the match.

Board 4:
Herman - NM Krasik
It would be easy to think about the encounter these two had a few weeks ago and say "If Herman won with black, he can certainly win with white", well things never work out so easily in practice. Krasik has been tough all season and seems to deserve the edge on board 4.

The key to this match is going to be the Riordan - Hess game. If Hess can win, New York will have very real chances to upset New York, but I think without a full point there they could be without much hope and a loss would all but put the nail in the coffin. I think Boston moves on to the league championships about 75% of the time.
Boston over New York 2.5-1.5

San Francisco Mechanics vs Seattle Sluggers (SF has draw odds)

Certainly for me, the self-proclaimed biggest fan of the Mechanics, this is the match I'll be looking forward to on Wednesday. I won't pretend to be the most objective analyst in this battle, but at the same time, San Francisco already has had an impressive season with 10 straight weeks without a loss which is good news since all they have to do is not lose to move on to the league championships. In my 9 weeks as a prognosticator (I didn't start until week 2) I predicted San Francisco to win 8 times and draw only in the final week of the season when their playoff outcome was crystal clear. I will as I have been almost every Wednesday (except when it was the Monday Night game) be watching the Mechanics live. If you want to see them in action, I highly suggest you stop by this Wednesday.

Board 1:
IM Friedel - IM Serper
So far in their season encounter white has won both games which would bodes well for Friedel who in my opinion is much tougher to face when he's holding the white pieces. I also believe that Friedel has a positive lifetime score against Serper. I think Friedel has got a slight edge in this confrontation.

Board 2:
IM Orlov - IM Bhat
A few weeks ago these two were pitted in what was dubbed a match between two players undefeated in the USCL. Thanks to Bhat's nice victory in that game we don't have to worry that it will be given the same title this time around. I'm guessing it will be a semi-slav which would seem too theoretical compared to much of what Orlov plays which I think should give the edge to the generally well-prepared Bhat. I'm also expecting a somewhat wild encounter as Seattle needs to try to stir things up to give themselves the best chance to make it.

Board 3:
IM Pruess - FM Milat
Milat joined the Sluggers late into the season and played just the minimum two matches to make him eligible for post-season play. Seattle sends in a cold player to try to defend against the Mechanics? I'm guess this will be an Alekine's defense which already spells bad news for the Sluggers, edge to Pruess.

Board 4:
Lee - NM Shankland
This is another match-up we've seen a couple of times this season already. Both times white won, will it be a threepeat for the white pieces? I'm not as confident here. Last time black got a very reasonable position from the opening and just played one misstep to get into some real trouble. After this incident the young Shankland has been under the "nanny cam" having to sit in between two players so he will feel pressured not to move so impulsively. So far this has worked well as Sam has won all other encounters this season. I'm not feeling mean enough to outright claim an edge for SF on all 4 boards so I'll just call this one an "interesting" encounter.

All the Mechanics have to do to move on is not lose, shouldn't be too tough, they've been doing exactly that all season long. I won't even give a % for SF to move on because likely the number I would write down would be illogical (how can you win more than all the encounters anyways??).
San Francisco advances over Seattle 3-1

Monday, November 13, 2006

Carroll Capps Memorial

In past years this was a relatively strong event, it wasn't quite as strong this year, but there were a few masters I wanted to get a crack at. The tournament started well, in the first round I got my warm-up by slowly outplaying a B-player to get the win as black. In the second round I played a young (and hence dangerous) 1800 as white and got a nice King's Indianesque mating attack on the white side of the open Sicilian strangely enough. In round 3 disaster struck. My opponent played a move I knew from previous preparation to be dubious, but I didn't take the time to calculate moves I "knew" to be theory when in fact I was confusing two similar lines that would have been easy to check if I had calculated so I ended up just dropping a pawn then followed it up by blundering and exchange. I fought back tough and at some point was even up a pawn for the exchange I blundered so early, but my opponent held on for the win. In round 4 (the last g/1) I faced an unrated guy from Germany who was reasonably strong and had a provisional (but still unpublished) rating of 179x. He played a tricky opening line and I made one mistake to give back his sacrificed pawn and go into an endgame that was slightly better for black. My opponent seemed eager just to draw, but I was not ready for this result so I played on despite my slightly inferior position and I was rewarded later by being able to play a nice tactic on the board that won 2 pawns (it offered a rook sacrifice that could not be accepted do to a somewhat strange looking mate) and after that I won easily. So finally I got to go home and rest and prepare for an opponent I had played not too long ago. This time he chose to play the advanced variation against "my" french defense and played 2 or arguably 3 horrific positional moves the the opening when I got what I thought was close to a winning advantage. Unfortunately I played one move based on miscalculation which gave him the moves h3 and g4 for free which really put me under a bind. I thought my position was close to lost when I realized that I had a nice resource which he needed to avoid as it won on the spot following a strong attack I had for the exchange. I eventually ended up in a 3 pawn up R+N endgame where my technique was far from optimal but more than good enough to win. In the last round I finally got to play NM Michael Aigner. This was my first game against a player 2200-2450 since reno (i.e. a stronger player, but one I could be reasonably expected to score some points against too). I played very strangely in the opening (he played the bird's opening which is famous for with the nickname fpawn on ICC) and we reached a complicated middlegame which just favored white in all variations unfortunately, I tried to generate some tricks, but it was to no avail and he wrapped up the point cleanly. Overall even though the result was similar, I can be much happier with my play this weekend, I feel my tactics getting better, I just need to continue to practice before American Open in 2 weeks.
Estimated Rating Change: 2116 ->2110

EBCC Nov Swiss

I was quite lazy reporting on this disappointing result. Sam Shankland convinced me to play in this tournament at the East Bay Chess Club when normally I avoid tournaments with no or little chance of playing stronger opponents (yes I realize the paradox in this, but I'm not strong enough where I feel this is a real issue yet). He told me I would be the 5th seed in what is normally a small event so this looked like a good chance to play "up" in 2/4 rounds or more. However, when I arrived that Saturday (a little over a week ago now) I found out this was not the case at all and in fact I was the 2nd seed. So I started the tournament against a mid-A player who surprised me with a move that is probably objectively bad, but was quite difficult to find the best response to over the board. Fortunately, he soon when awry and played a sacrifice that I proved unsound due to a counter-sacrifice. I achieved an endgame that should be won with 2 Knights versus a rook, but the technical task was quite difficult and I messed it up a little bit an failed to win. Quite sad. The next round I played one inaccurate move in the opening in a Petroff and already a very sterile position was reached and after only slightly more than 20 moves the position was near dead so we shook hands. This wasn't quite as bad as the opponent was also an expert. I came back the next day looking to finally get a W on the board when I faced Adarsh Konda for the 3rd time in about 2 months as black. This time he again chose a different line against the Slav, I didn't choose the best reaction, but still got a very comfortable position from the opening. I held a slight advantage for a long time, but then near time control (due to missing my B.A.R.T train and also missing the first bus from the BART station I showed up 30 minutes late to the game) I played some inaccurate moves and I was on the slightly worse side of an endgame which I held without too much difficulty. In the last game I was playing another A-player looking for some blood after 3 draws in a row. After some opening inaccuracies on my part I already felt under pressure as white, but fortunately my opponent let me back in the game and at some point I traded into an endgame that I was almost positive would be winning or at least in practice winning for me, and after missing like 5 wins (but to be fair, they weren't trivial 1-move wins or anything, they required very concrete calculation, which is no excuse, but at least not as pathetic) I only managed to draw. So 4 draws in 4 rounds, incredibly disappointing and 2/4 is definitely my worst "undefeated" result ever.
Rating change: 2129 -> 2116

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

USCL Playoffs Wildcard Round

Playoffs Wildcard Round

After the insane finish in the USCL East, this should be an intense final. I don't know if the prediction competition ended with the regular season, I still have a hefty lead and there probably aren't really enough matches left for the official prognosticators to catch up without a Carolina-style miracle to occur anyways. But I will make traditional score predictions and give you what I think the percentage of the time each team moves on is just for some extra information during this exciting time of the season.

New York Knights vs Carolina Cobras (NY has draw odds)
Board 1: GM Charbonneau - IM Milman
These two already have an interesting history this season alone. In their first encounter Milman looked quite lame as white losing quickly and getting mated in the middle of the board. In their second encounter Milman turned the tables unexpectedly winning as black. Now these two face off in the playoffs with the same color as their second encounter. The edge I'll give to Charonneau, even as white. (Note that in the regular season black won the season match 100.5-99.5)

Board 2: FM Hoekstra - IM Krush
In their last encounter with these colors Krush played a QGA and went into one of the symmetrical pawn-structure lines where white usually has a very nagging edge. Not in this particular game though. Hoekstra didn't play in the spirit of the position it seems and quickly got a passive position which Krush finished off easily. As Carolina picked their colors for this match, I'm thinking he'll have some improvements prepared, but Krush is a versatile player who can play many different openings, I think she has the edge in this matchup.

Board 3: FM Hess - FM Zaikov
Zaikov started the season very hot this year, and still finished the season with his only loss being against IM Costigan. Hess on the other hand started the season struggling with board 2 duties, but since his move down to board 3 he has been quite successful. This should definitely be a close game, both players are young and confident, my guess is a small edge to Hess with the white pieces.

Board 4: NM Jones - Herman
At the end of the season Herman managed to hold his own against some tough opposition, but Jones finished the season 5.5/6, that cannot be ignored, especially when he has white for this game. Jones is favored by a bit.

So it seems that NY has a very real edge on a bunch of boards, but Carolina always has an X-factor by having an incredibly young lineup where they're behind. The edge has to go to NY, but Carolina should have good chances for an upset, that being said, I'm not sure they deserve any more luck after last week.
NY over Car 2.5-1.5
NY has draw odds, I predict they move on roughly 75% of the time.

Dallas Destiny vs Seattle Sluggers (Seattle has draw odds)
Dallas failed to win just last week with the same colors, this week Seattle has draw odds. We are seeing some different faces than last week though. The seemingly untouchable IM Vavrak sits out for the Destiny this week and FM Zaremba also steps down to let IM Kuljasevic and FM Igor Schneider try to step it up this week.

Board 1:
IM Stopa - GM Serper
Last week Serper played some sideline of the semi-slav, strangely declining to go into the semi-slav as black. I'm not sure if he'll be willing to try this again as it seemed as though white was never in serious trouble and will probably have an improvement prepared. However, Serper is not one to be afraid of a fight, I think this matchup is fairly balanced, maybe a slight edge to Serper.

Board 2:
FM Mikhailuk - IM Kuljasevic
Kuljasevic has sat out more than a few weeks this season, this is only his 4th match in the USCL. He's had reasonably results, going 2.5/3 beating Pruess as white and drawing the struggling Roman with black. Mikhailuk on the other hand has struggled late in the season and is probably hoping to get some footing so the team knows he can be depended on, especially as white. I think Kuljasevic has the edge here.

Board 3:
FM Schneider - FM Readey
Schneider hasn't looked too imppressive in his matches so far going just 1/3, but he's young and this is only the second time he takes the white pieces this season. I don't know if he has some concrete idea in mind against Readey who's been reasonably solid this season, but he might need something. I'm guessing this game will be a draw, but probably slightly better chances for Schneider.

Board 4:
NM Koons - NM Kiewra
Dallas and Seattle send out the same board 4s this week with the same colors. This makes a lot of sense for Seattle, but probably not as much for Dallas. Their last week's game was messy, but it seemed that white got a nice initiative which he held for most of the game. I'm guessing Kiewra is going to have some concrete ideas in mind playing the same player with the same color for the second week in a row, still these things don't always go so well.

Overall I'd say it's a pretty even match, no boards with a particularly huge edge to either side and with Seattle having draw odds for this match, that will likely be good enough. Probably the key matchup in my mind is the rematch on board 4, if Kiewra can bring in a full point there it could mean victory for the Destiny. So if we say that'll happen roughly 30-35% of the time, we probably almost get their odds in the match.
Seatle ties Dallas 2-2 (to move on)
Roughly 70% chance of Seattle moving on to the next round.