Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All cars fixed until next year

The mechanics are now US CHESS LEAGUE CHAMPIONS! In our most intense and definitely scariest match yet we managed to fight back hard in worse positions and draw the long chess part 2-2. On board 1 Josh was playing very well and got an advantage but blundered badly with ne7 passing the advantage over to Charbonneau. He pushed hard and actually had slight winning chances at the end but the endgame was just drawn with best play, which Charbonneau demonstrated. On board 2 we were missing Vinay but David stepped up to the plate, played a new opening, and defeated Irina Krush in a long, hard game. Dima was looking good out of the opening but somehow his position got bad and he lost. My game was ridiculous. After I played f5(?) rg3! qxh5 bg5! should be great for white. Fortunately herman missed this shot. 2 moves later after be2 i repaid the favor with nxe2?, when nxc2+! would have won on the spot. nxc2+ kf1 rxd2 -+, nxc2+ kd1 e3 -+. I then repaid the favor again the very next move with qxe2+? I wrote down nxf5 on my scoresheet (which should give me a solid =+ in the endgame) then somehow decided it was bad and took e2. The resulting ending was slightly better for me until the rooks came off. Once that happened i was worse, and Herman showed great technique and soon after that I was dead lost. I somehow managed to miracle draw with a cheap tactic, I'm such a lucky patzer.

So then we went in for the blitz. Im a better blitz player than regular chess and it showed when i beat Herman (with the help of having white) and then drew Hess. I think i was winning against Hess for a while in the endgame and i really wanted to beat him but oh well, i can't do everything. With those 2 out of the way Dima made a quick draw with Krush and then David and Josh would each get a chance to play Charbonneau.

David got a great position and had what looked like a crushing attack. He misplayed it mildly but maintained a better position. Then Charbonneau defended VERY well and somehow managed to beat David. My heart sank the same time Josh's butt sank into the chair of the computer with the best(!) mouse. To make a long story short, Josh solidly defeated Charbonneau and gave us the USCL championship. Way to go Josh!

Folks, That is all for this year. I'd personally like to congratulate New York for playing so well and they deserved to win the championship, and their team will only get better. Also a special thanks to Robert Hess, Matt Herman, Michael Lee, Luis Barredo, and Gainer Phay for playing, we had many good games. Hopefully I'll see you all around next year.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

SF-NY overview

A crazy match is coming up, possibly the hardest of the season. Unfortunately for the mechanics, our arguably most trusty can of oil known as the ostrich (Vinay Bhat) is unable to play this all-important match. Regrets aside, we still have good chances to win this match. Heres my FULLPROOF idea:

On board 1 we have Josh against GM Charbonneau. This will be a hard one to win as charbonneau has proved himself numerous times and was last years MVP. His scores with black are especially impressive. However Josh has tried very hard but still not yet succeeded to lose with white. In fact, he has mouseslipped his way to victory every match but one which was drawn against none other than Charbonneau. He clearly was thinking too hard, and he was on the wrong computer. this time he will take the computer on the left, which has the slipperiest mouse as IM McCambridge will tell you after his game with Becerra. So with josh mouseslipping like never before he should be able to at least draw the super GM

On board 2 we have IM Krush against our trusty friend David. David has been in a minor slump in the USCL but is playing just fine OTB. David has only one main problem- being too tense. He takes the game very seriously, which is a good thing, but for such an important match a relaxed state of mind might be a powerful asset. If he is in a nice mood, feeling great and not overly nervous and his mind off the match, he should be able to draw or win. Before the game we can take his mind off the match quite effectively. Im not going to totally spill the beans on our method as the NY team might use it, but I'll just say i don't think it would work for krush.

On board 3 we have DIma againstv FM Hess. Hess is a very strong player and after my rating climbed a long ways and i thought i was getting good i looked on the top 100 list- and Robert is the only guy ahead of me! YAYAY ill pass him and be #1!. Then i saw his actual rating and was disheartened, knowing it would take a very long time to catch him and thats unlikely anyways. I therefore REALLY want dima to win this game for reasons beyond USCL. I have thought long and hard about a way to do it, and i regret to say my only solution is to offer robert to come out to "a certain establishment where certain waitresses are dressed a certain way" with me and josh after the game. Maybe he will get so excited that he will catch a plane to CA and be on it during the match and we can win by forfeit.

On board 4 i have my work cut out for me with Matt Herman. He seems to be a super genius and would be much higher rated if he hadnt excelled so much in school and worked so hard at it. Oh well, I think we have secured 2.5/3 on the other boards so i can lose and we can still win the match. I feel so privelaged. I have a meager plan for victory on this board, but unfortunately during USCL games the players cannot receive personal tells on ICC (I was planning on spamming with some interesting images made completely from symbols such as / \ ( ) and others. Trust me, they are distracting! I do however have a plan B: Right before the game starts, send him some Borat clips from youtube. He might click them and watch when the game has started. In that case i will have a time advantage and he will have sore abs from laughing so hard, giving me a slight edge on move 1. Even still, I can expext to lose.

We now have 2 good strategies, either one should win the match. Josh, something is wrong with your bank account because my check didnt bounce.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

How we're going to beat the NY Knights

That's right. You read the headline correctly. That is, unless you thought it said "How to make a fabulous plum pudding on only five minutes!" If that's what you read, well...

Anyway, it is true. I've come up with an absolutely fullproof strategy for defeating the NY Knights. And keep in mind, I don't know our own lineup yet! Assuming NY uses the lineup they've been using over the past weeks, here is how we'll win:

Pascal Charbonneau and Irina Krush have been quite the duo for NY so far. However, I believe it could also cause their downfall. The key will be to have our board two play extra fast, and our board one slow. In this way Irina will finish first. After that, no matter the board two result, Pascal will be too distracted by either her happiness or sadness to play his own game, thus giving us a near free point on board one. Oh, and if we need more ammo, I'll simply change the end of the handle from -SF to -PHI. Then Pascal will be totally helpless!

That takes care of the top boards, giving us at LEAST 1/2 from them. Now, onto the bottom boards. US Junior Champ Robert Hess will likely be playing board three. Though he has proven quite formidable in the past few weeks, my keen eye has spotted his weakness. Every game he seems to get inferior positions out of the opening, then comes back to win. Our board three, whoever it might be, will try his hardest to get a WORSE position! Robert, finding himself in completely unfamiliar territory, will simply collapse. That's another point in the bag.

Last, but certainly not least important, is board four. Herman has been on a hot streak lately, winning three games in a row, and even managing to take down the behemoth that is Ilya Krasik. Though there is no clear weakness I could find, I do have a way to secure victory on this board. I don't want to go into too much detail, except to say that if a certain fourth board were to win, I might consider taking him to a certain establishment where certain waitresses are dressed a certain way.

Well, that's all from me. You might ask, why would I reveal our strategy before the big match? Let's just say I have my reasons. Oh, and as a side note, Mr. Phelps your check bounced.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

A good night

Last night's match must be considered a great success by all members as well as fans of the Mechanics. Though Vinay and myself were disappointed not to win games, the team result easily overshadowed that disappointment. The last four-five days leading up to the match I had been anxious for it to start. I was excited to be in the lineup, and after a couple weeks without playing [serious] chess I was starving for a win. This kind of anticipation is usually an ideal mood for me to begin a chess game.
Unfortunately, an unfamiliar opening left me with (in my opinion) little to play for. A crucial juncture in the game comes when my opponent played f5, seeking to activate both his rooks and clear the long diagonal in one move. This is a serious challenge to white- was I going to allow 3 of his 4 pieces to suddenly spring to life? During my very long think on this move and the next one, I concluded that white had very little chance of maintaining an advantage. The main factor which I could put in my favorables column was the looseness of his king's pawn cover. But as to the quality of the pieces, i was quite concerned that his bishop could prove stronger than my knight. After the game GM Yermolinsky told me that he thinks this is not necessarily the case at all, and that white might have a bit of an advantage by playing 21.b4. But, during the game, I evaluated the black bishop as likely a bit superior, and thought that objectively I was unlikely to be better. I ran over to the other room to check on my teammates' positions, and they looked just peachy, particularly Josh's position, which had the look of a massacre. So I sat back down at my board, and did something I've seldom done. Tried to just hold the position together, without necessarily doing anything special. I decided that exchanging the knight for bishop via Ne4 leaving my queen and rook nicely centralized was probably a decent way to maintain the balance. The idea of later playing h4-h5 would probably encourage black to try and trade queens on the c-file accordingly, and so I already looked ahead to some variations, including the one which occured in the game, and felt comfortable that they were the right path.
When my opponent offered the trade of queens on move 24, I stopped and thought again, deciding to exhaustively check the king and pawn ending, which arose a couple moves later. The ending has a couple neat points to it (gosh, I love the purity of pawn endings, and solving them all the way through with sheer calculation is a joy). I don't want to overly burden you with exercises, but, here are two questions you could ask yourselves. 1) After the kingside pawns run out of moves on 36.h4, what winning try does black have? 2) Why does it not win? So, in fact, I saw that in all variations the king and pawn ending was drawn, and so played Qxc6 dc Kg2 Kf8 Re6, leading to a draw. Before this game ended, Josh had broken through against Serper, and now we found ourselves... in the same situation as last year's divisional championship round! with 1.5/2, and two promising positions left. Last year, with draw odds like this time, we managed to lose both of those games. I don't know how we would have handled the same disappointment again.
This is the time to say that I am so so thankful to Sam for his play. He was both confident and thoughtful. In control, but not careless. This I could tell just from watching, and it kept John and myself and perhaps others from having a heart attack watching at this juncture. Often Sam's confidence is linked to forgetting about his opponent, and imagining that he's just "rolling some guy," and then accidents can happen. Lots of them. But here he had an extremely good position, and was not taking anything for granted, while being confident he could get the job done. His Rh8-h2 n-d5-f6 maneuver led to a nice, efficient closing out of the game. When he had trapped the bishop on c1, I told his anxious mother that his opponent would resign on this move. Moments later, he did, and Sam jumped up pumping his fist. Only a great regard for Vinay prevented me from whooping loudly with insane joy. Only one step[ping stone] remained.
We didn't win all our games, like we dream of doing some day. But it was a solid outing for us as a team. We were only briefly in danger on any board (Vinay's time scramble had its ups and downs, and both he and Orlov had chances to win), and got a couple excellent games. I'd like to thank all my teammates for their play, and fans who came by the mechanics to watch, and gave us a boost through their support.
Let's have a lot more matches like this in the US Chess League in the future!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Champagne Tonight!

Wow, the mechanics had a seriously good night tonight. In the beginning, I know I was a little stressed out because it looked to me like the sluggers were better in the openings. On Board one Josh got a dubious looking position that i didn't like very much after Be6, but he showed me i was wrong by being the first to finish with a nice win over Serper, a very worthy opponent. On board 2 Vinay was doing his usual thing, but when Orlov played nf5 I was worried about a possible pawn storm. David's position didnt look that great after f5 and bb7. I had no clue what was going on, on move 5 i was already out of book and i thought i had some problems, 4. ne2 is an intersting novelty that looks strong. When Lee played nb3 I was relieved. I was worrying about nb5 bb4+ bd2 qxb2 bxb4 qxb4+ qd2 qxd2+ kxd2 na6 rc1 c6 nd6 with an unclear position. I have a pawn and can win another with nb4 but my queenside is stuck, and this kid already had taught me a lesson about nto developing my queenside back in week 7. As the game progressed though I realized a strong point of nb3. After bf5 white is very cramped, but his move nd2! opens everything up as he can play nc4, protecting b2 so he can develop his c1 bishop and then his a1 rook as well as possibly taking b6.

As the match progressed it started to look better. Once Josh played h5 i knew his attack would be too much. He was the first to finish with a win. Vinay seemed to be playing well, after e3 i thought he was much better. David looked like he was in trouble but he fought off all cheapos and managed to draw despite his slightly worse pawn structure. He was the second to finish, at that point we were up 1.5 to 0.5. After Lee played kh1 (instead of e4 bh3 rf2 bc8 qd4 f5 f4 c5! with an unclear position) and bd3 i knew i was better and could draw the game at least, probably win, but a draw was all we needed. The clock helped as well, i was up 10-20 minutes.

So then there was me and there was Vinay. We only needed a half point between us, and it looked like both of our positions were better. However, Orlov is not a 2580 IM for no reason. He fought through an uncomfortable position and then reached a slightly better endgame (qe4 would have been a nice shot for Vinay and was winning almost instantly instead of qc3, but aside from that it was very good defense by Orlov). Vinay defended it well but it still looked like he might lose when my game was nearing the end. I had a better endgame for a long time, but michael lee is very crafty, he has tons of tricks and is dangerous in every position. Even though i was way up on time i was still uncomfortable. When I played nf6+ I knew I was winning, and a few moves later it was over. By that point Vinay was doing better and he managed to draw the game. Final score: SF 3 SEA 1.


Friday, November 03, 2006


I just wanted to congratulate Vinay for winning game of the week in week 9 for his victory over IM Orlov. As I said in my blog at the time, I really liked this game, and I think it was a worthy winner of the award. Good job! We can hope that Vinay keeps up the high level of play in our playoff matches. But first, we have a week off.