Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mechanics' defeat Sharks

The match with the division leading Miami Sharks was a good test for the Mechanics' and early season indicators suggest this year's team compares favorably with the 2007 USCL Championship squad. GM Jesse Kraai was the first to get on the scoreboard and he was quickly joined by Yian Liou. Up 2-0 and with Sam Shankland his customary 30 minutes up on the clock, and his opponent IM Blas Lugo running low on time, the match score was soon 3-0. GM Julio Becerra, the 2006 and 2007 USCL MVP and the first team all star selection for board one four seasons running, averted a shut out for the Sharks.

Miami 1 - San Francisco 3

1. GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs GM Josh Friedel (SF) 1-0
2. GM Jesse Kraai (SF) vs FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) 1-0
3. IM Blas Lugo (MIA) vs IM Sam Shankland (SF) 0-1
4. NM Yian Liou (SF) vs NM Ernesto Alvarez (MIA) 1-0

Practical players and not perfectionists rule supreme in the USCL and Becerra is the practical player par excellence. Rule number one is play quickly and confidently and try to set your opponent problems. Sometimes, as in this game, that can lead to a somewhat dubious position but if the opponent is low on time he will be hard pressed to find the right moves. One last observation is those who plays frequently on ICC tend to do better - it helps if playing in front of a computer screen feels nature.

The following game could be analyzed for hours but in a nutshell White was outplayed in the early middlegame and found his best chance in sacrificing a piece for two pawns and a mobile center. One answer to this was to return the material for a better position. It appears Black had at least two opportunities to do this. First he had 34...Bxf2+ 35.Nxf2 Nxd6 when the pin on f2 and the passed pawn on b3 give Black the advantage. The second possibility was 37...Bxd7 (and not 37...Ba6??) 38.cxd7 Ra7. Josh might well have found the latter if the match had not already been decided, but up 3-0 he was noticeably relaxed.

Becerra,Julio (2615) - Friedel,Josh (2612) [C88]
Miami vs San Francisco (3) 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.Nc3 d6 10.a3 Nd4 11.Ba2 c5 12.d3 h6 13.b4 Qc7 14.Bd2 Rfe8 15.bxc5 dxc5 16.Nd5 Nxd5 17.exd5 Bd6 18.c3 Nf5 19.c4 Bc8 20.Bc3 Bd7 21.Nd2 b4 22.axb4 cxb4 23.Bb2 a5 24.Ne4 a4 25.Rc1 b3 26.Bxb3 axb3 27.c5 Bf8 28.c6 Bc8 29.d4 Qb6 30.dxe5 Ra2 31.Bc3 Bc5 32.Qf3 Bd4 33.e6 fxe6 34.d6 Rf8 35.d7 Ba6 36.Bxd4 Nxd4 37.Qxf8+ Kxf8 38.c7 Qxc7 39.Rxc7 Ke7 40.Nc5 Kd8 41.Ra7 Bc4 42.Rb7 Ra8 43.Re4 1-0

Black was already worse (and getting low on time) when he blundered with 20...f5. This was a very efficient performance by Jesse.

Kraai,Jesse (2552) - Lopez,Bruci (2480) [E97]
Miami vs San Francisco (3) 2009

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Qxd1 10.Rfxd1 h6 11.Be3 Bg4 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Rfd8 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.cxd5 Nd4 16.Rac1 Rd7 17.Kf1 h5 18.Be2 Rf8 19.Bc4 Kh7 20.g4 f5 21.exf5 gxf5 22.Bxd4 exd4 23.Bd3 Re7 24.Bxf5+ Kh8 25.Re1 Rfe8 26.Rxe7 Rxe7 27.d6 1-0


Sam’s win clinched the match and was filled with some eventful moments. White got nothing from the opening but Black decided to unbalance things with 26...Qb4 ( in place of 26...Rd4 or 26..Rbd8). White should have tried 29.Rxd4 but very low on time blundered with 29.Kb2 and 30.a3.

Lugo,Blas (2351) - Shankland,Sam (2564) [B90]
Miami vs San Francisco (3), 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.f3 Be6 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 12.g5 b4 13.gxf6 bxc3 14.Qxc3 Nxf6 15.Na5 Rc8 16.Nc6 Qd7 17.Nxe7+ Qxe7 18.Qa5 Rc6 19.Bd3 Rb8 20.Rhg1 Qb7 21.b3 Nd7 22.Qd2 g6 23.h4 Nc5 24.Bxc5 dxc5 25.c4 Rd6 26.Qg5 Qb4 27.Qxe5 Rd4 28.Bc2 Rbd8 29.Kb2 Bxc4 30.a3 Qb6 31.Rxd4 cxd4 32.h5 d3 33.h6 f6 34.Qe7 Bf7 35.Rd1 Re8 36.Qd7 dxc2 37.Rd3 Qc5 38.Kc1 Rc8 0-1

Yian had the advantage in the middlegame when his opponent went wrong with 25...Qe7 (better was 25...Qxa5 26.Qxa5 Rxa5 27.Rxd6 Ra2 when White has two connected passed pawns but at least Black has some activity. In the game after 27.Qb6! White’s d-pawn is a game winner.

Liou,Yian (2149) - Alvarez,Ernesto (2200) [B92]
Miami vs San Francisco (3), 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0-0 b5 9.a4 b4 10.Nd5 Bb7 11.Be3 Nxd5 12.exd5 0-0 13.a5 Nd7 14.c4 bxc3 15.bxc3 Rc8 16.c4 Bg5 17.Qd2 Bxe3 18.Qxe3 Nc5 19.Rfb1 Qe7 20.Nxc5 Rxc5 21.Rb6 Qc7 22.Qb3 Bc8 23.Qb4 f5 24.Rd1 e4 25.Rc6 Qe7 26.Rxc5 dxc5 27.Qb6 f4 28.d6 Qf7 29.f3 e3 30.Qxc5 Be6 31.Qd4 Qg6 32.Bd3 Qh5 33.c5 Bh3 34.Qe4 e2 35.Bxe2 Qxc5+ 36.Qd4 Qxd4+ 37.Rxd4 Bd7 38.Bxa6 g5 39.Rb4 Kf7 40.Re4 Kf6 41.Bb7 Bc8 42.a6 Rd8 43.Bxc8 Rxc8 44.d7 1-0

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