Sunday, September 16, 2007

The USBL?

Thank you, thank you, you're far too kind. I must admit to having a bit of success in the league, although the past week I got into a little more trouble than I'm used to experiencing. Luckily for me, this week I get to stay a little later at the office and so recuse myself from stumbling into another Game of the Week prize.

Since we haven't had a recap of the last couple weeks, here goes...

In week 2, we were up against a strong Dallas squad. Featuring the debut of GM Patrick Wolff, we felt pretty good about our chances, but early on, David made an incomprehensible move on board 3 (...Rfc8, instead of his planned ...Rac8), and his position turned south soon afterwards.

With board 4 not looking so good, and Boskovic holding a small edge on board 1, we weren't in great shape, until Bartholomew blundered badly with ...Re8. I had made a miscalculation and thrown away my advantage, but that move gave it right back. That seemed to coincide with some good luck on 1 and 4, as Wolff turned the tables and Young managed to reach a drawn opposite-color bishop endgame. While those two finished in a draw, I managed to finally find my way around to a full point after missing some easier wins. This salvaged a tie in the match, bringing our score to 1.5/2 on the season.

In week 3, it was a finals rematch against NY. The two lineups looked somewhat different than last year's version, with me being matched up against GM Hikaru Nakamura on board 1. Meanwhile, some of last year's heroes (Josh Friedel and Sam Shankland for SF, and Pascal Charbonneau for NY) were not active.

The match seemed to start out alright, with relatively good chances on all 4 boards - we achieved better positions out of the opening with white (boards 1 and 3), and had playable positions with black. Unfortunately, David played a little too nonchalantly and missed ...b5!, Black's only resource in the position and things weren't looking good for us for the second week in a row.

I then decided that in addition to time odds (I showed up late, leading to 5-minute time penalty, and then burned a lot of time in an unfamiliar opening/middlegame structure), I needed to give Hikaru an extra pawn to boot, and that's when the fun really began on my board.

I missed the remainder of the other 2 games, but while Greg picked us up with a big win, Vince was outplayed in a complicated position under mutual time pressure. Meanwhile, my position went from being a pawn down with pretty good holding chances to something completely random, and finally to a winning R + P vs. B + 3P endgame. Once again, I made my living off the increment and we escaped by a hair. With a second straight drawn match, we moved to 2/3, and into a tie for 2nd behind Dallas in the West.

And finally, to Drasko - well, you won a nice game last week, but you made it look a little too easy. You've got to give your opponents a fighting chance.

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