Friday, September 12, 2008

Week 3 Recap by Ben Marmont

The Scorpions this week faced the undefeated Queens Pioneers. Queens were coming off a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Knockouts, whereas our Scorpions had lost the previous week in heartbreaking fashion to the defending champion Dallas Destiny. This match was a good opportunity to regain some momentum.

GM Alex Stripunsky (2608)- IM Rogelio Barcenilla (2560)

On Board 1 IM Rogelio Barcenilla made his debut for the Scorpions against GM Alexander Stripunsky. Stripunsky is a regular in American open tournaments and Barcenilla, though probably of GM-strength, is a very rare visitor in competitive play. Barcenilla was black and defended against the Ruy Lopez. He threatened the Marshall Gambit with 7…0-0, and Stripunsky avoided it with 8.d4, transposing into Closed Ruy Lopez without h3. Stripunsky played the rare 14.Bg5!? and Rogelio made the first new move of the game with 15…h6N. Barcenilla’s position seemed to be promising, in fact after Stripunsky’s 26.Qe4?! he is clearly better. Unfortunately Rogelio rushed his position with 39…e3?!, throwing away his winning chances. Instead 39…Bf8! With the idea of …Bh6 leaves Black clearly better. The game petered out to a draw after Rogelio’s inaccuracy.

IM Mark Ginsburg (2410)- IM Alex Lenderman (2463)

Board 2 saw IM Mark Ginsburg battled against IM Alex Lenderman. Lenderman had started off very well this season, winning both his games, and Mark had managed a win-clinching draw in the Scorpions first match of the season against the Chicago Blaze. Mark had white in this game and played his usual English opening, to which Lenderman countered with the Wedberg Variation, aka the Botvinnik System. The game went very normally in the opening until Ginsburg thought he was Emory Tate and started playing weird moves like 18.Kh1 and 19.f3 which leave a strange impression. Then Mark screwed up with 20.Bc3?!, when 20…f5 would have been awkward for white. Instead Lenderman played 20…Nec6 when white is only slightly worse. Unfortunately Mark’s position was tough to defend and he ended up blundering with 33.Qg3? when Lenderman’s 33…Nd4 just wins. Ginsburg resigned a few moves later. Sadly a one sided game.

NM Parker Zhao (2236) - FM Danny Rensch (2411)

On Board 3 FM Danny Rensch took on young phenom Parker Zhao. Danny had a significant rating advantage, but due to the fact that Zhao is having good results and is more active than Danny, this game would not be easy. Danny had black and the game was a slightly strange 6.g3 Najdorf in which black played 7…Be6 rather than the normal 7…Be7. Black’s position has perfectly fine out of the opening, it was just a normal position in which white is fighting for the d5-square but black has his queenside play. However Danny made an inaccuracy with his 21…Qc6?! instead of 21…Rxc3 which leads to a murky position. After 21…Qc6?! black loses the exchange for very little. It was really looking bad for Danny until Zhao played 33.f3?! after which black is fine and then 35.Ng2?! when black has the advantage due to his center pawns! Unfortunately Danny missed the best continuation and played 39…Qxc2+?! which leads to a draw instead of 39…Re6 which retained his winning chances. Danny’s 40…Be5 was also not that great, as 40…exf3 is easier. 42…Nf2+? was the real nail the coffin though because 42…d3, even though black is down a rook(!), draws because white can’t stop the center pawns and has to force a perpetual. Black’s position was hopeless after 42…Nf2+? and even though he fought valiantly Danny had to resign 32 moves later.

NM Leo Martinez (2208) - Benjamin Katz (2110)

Board 4 saw team manager and master Leo Martinez take on Benjamin Katz. Leo had a 100 point rating advantage, but this game would be no easy task. Leo was white and the Katz played the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Leo had a really good position out of the opening, but played 16.a4 after which black is completely fine. 16.Qd3, the slower approach, would have kept white’s advantage. Leo then messed up with 28.b4, where 28.h3 was needed to hold the balance. Katz then proceeded to outplay Leo and was even winning in the final position when he offered a draw, which Leo of course accepted.

The Scorpions are now 1-2 on the year with this 3-1 loss to Queens. Next week they face the mighty Tennessee Tempo, who have GM Jaan Ehlvest on their team. Will he make his debut against our Scorpions? Will the Scorpions get back on track with a victory? There is only one way to find out, and that is to watch next week’s match on Wednesday at 6:00 MST!


Jim Blackwood said...

Benjamin: Good Job! and thanks for your candid accounting of the week 3 match, AZ vs Queens. I was observing the games on ICC and it seemed that the repetition on board 4 was played just as Rensch was getting some chances in his complications. I assumed that Katz looked at the board 3 game and assumed Zhao would win, so repeated. Were you at the site, and if so can you comment on that? Maybe you'll be doing a regular weekly recap; if so it'll be a refreshing addition to the site.
Jim Blackwood

BMarmont said...

Thanks for your kind words Jim! I wasn't at the site as I am in Tucson now for school and they were playing in Phoenix. I can only make it to the Tucson matches. I'm sure Katz repeated because he thought Zhao would at least draw, but he really should have played on as there was no way he could have lost.

Rich in Phoenix said...

Good post Ben, I hope you are able to do reviews on future matches of the Scorpions!

For laughs you may want to see where I give a "game by game color commentary" on my blog: