"Holy broomsticks Batman!"
Sadly, I wasn’t able to watch any part of this match on ICC (the first time this year that happened) as I was at the Giants-Padres game instead. On the plus side, non-observation seems to have been translated into a clean sweep of
(1) Burnett (TEN) – Wolff (SF), 0-1, http://www.uschessleague.com/games/brnettwolff07.htm
Probably the most complicated game of the match, this one would take more space to do it proper justice. The opening must be some sort of theoretical line, but then Burnett decided to really mix things up with the sequence from 13.e5 to 15.Qh6. It all looks fishy to me – 17…f5 was probably the simplest way to refute the attack – the point being that after 18.Rh3 Qf2 19.Rf3, the opened d8-h4 diagonal means Black can play 19….Qxh4, staying in touch with the important g3-square). Instead, Patrick decided upon a queen sacrifice, after which he had clear compensation in the form of a safer king and bishop pair, but that only brings the assessment to unclear for me. With both players getting short of time, Patrick came out ahead with his bishops raking across the board.
(2) Donaldson (SF) – Andrews (TEN), 1-0, http://www.uschessleague.com/games/donaldsonandrews07.htm
With John in the lineup, there was no chance for Todd to even up his career score against me. Sorry Todd, by my count you're 1-2 against me , but let me know if my math is a little rusty. =)
As for the game, Black's opening setup was solid, but slightly passive. However, after 17.e5!, White just had a clear advantage. Black can suffer with the isolated d-pawn, but in trying to put up some active resistance, Black threw away his drawing chances. I think 23…Rd7 was essentially the last chance for Black to play “solidly”, as after the exchange of b7- for c4-pawn, White should be winning. The fight continued even after that exchange, but it was all for naught as John's technique came through and he pocketed the point.
(3) Wheeler (TEN) – Shankland (SF), 0-1, http://www.uschessleague.com/games/wheelershankland07.htm
Sam came up huge for us last year, but this year, his busy high-school schedule and big rating gains meant that it made more sense to be an alternate on the team. I'm skeptical of the opening idea (namely ...dxc4, ...Nbd7 and ...c5), but it worked out well. White probably should have just put a rook on the d-file instead of taking on c5 first, and he’s just better. In the relatively quiet middlegame that resulted, Sam played solidly and then used a small combination (...Nd5 and ...Rxc3) to create a useful imbalance. After that, for whatever reason, Wheeler just fell apart quickly.
(4) Naroditsky – Wu, 1-0, http://www.uschessleague.com/games/naroditskywu07.htm
This was a matchup between two players whose combined age equals mine. Daniel played the Closed Sicilian, an old favorite of mine (for what it's worth, I think both Spassky, Short, and
'Til the next episode,