Friday, November 03, 2006

Lack of Scandal in the USCL?

First I would like to preface this, I honestly don't believe that anybody did anything to intentionally alter the results in this final week of play in the US Chess League, but when the line is margins and funny things that would normally be dismissed happen they make a big difference.
So I was watching at the Mechanics the San Francisco - Miami match when the whole series of mouseslips occurred. As I witness McCambridge was having trouble with his mouse, he accidentally picked up the rook on b1 and then was trying to set it back down which he was struggling with and for some reason tried to then move the knight without having let go of the rook at which point he accidentally dropped the rook on d1 at which point he immediately claimed a mouseslip. Of course it's quite obvious that an IM would not just simply undefend a pawn on b4, it's not even a typical blunder as his move relaly had no additive purpose (his position was already quite bad). Then there was a the Lugo - Zilberstein game where Lugo played 17. Re5 which didn't really surprise me as I was watching the game and had considered this move thinking that black couldn't take due to dxe5 Bxe5 as played (temporarily) in the game, of course I missed 18... Bd6 which wins the game. So all of this was played on the board during this incident in the McCambridge - Becerra while McCambridge was asking for his takeback. So I'm very confused about the Miami side of the Lugo incident. I don't know if he legitimately played Re4, I would say it's less obvious that this move is a mouseslip of course I can't say for sure that it wasn't except it seems strange, especially due to the timing of this incident that Lugo played a SECOND move after Re5, like if it was a mouseslip the time to stop was after fxe5. I've also heard (unconfirmed) that Miami uses relayers to make moves in which case takebacks are explicitly allowed by the league rules if the correct move was made on the physical board. Anyways, both the games were won by the non mouse-slippers so it didn't end up making a difference in the end.

However, we're not done with strange incidents that had playoff implications. New York tied Philadelphia and Baltimore lost to Boston which actually opened the door for Carolina to make the playoffs with a 4-0 sweep on Tennessee ONLY. This is a pretty tall order against any team, but as the season has gone if you have to do this against some team, it might as well be Tennessee. However as things finished in the final position on board 2 Hoekstra stood in a trivially lost pawn endgame while his opponent had a 30 second increment to make his moves yet somehow he allowed time to run out. I don't know what caused this, relayer problems, a huge brawl in the Tempo clubhouse, but somehow they lost this game which had little meaning to them where even a draw would have eliminated Carolina from the playoffs. Certainly Philadelphia had other ways of not making the playoffs in this final week of play, but I would say this scenario was quite rare and the way it finished probably left a sour taste in their mouthes.

Anyways, it's all meaningless anyways, time for Mechanics to crush! It's playoff time and there's nothing more exciting than that. Games start next wednesday with Carolina taking black on board 1 and 3 and giving up draw odds against New York while Dallas takes white on boards 1 and 3 against Seattle and gives up draw odds. Dallas made a draw in that exact scenario this week which won't be good enough next week should be exciting to see where they're looking to improve.

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