USCL Weeks 1 and 2

Week 1: Dallas Destiny 1.5 - San Francisco Mechanics 2.5
The Destiny got off to a slow start against San Francisco. We dropped the opener 1.5-2.5 in a match that was essentially decided on board 3. SF's Sam Shankland displayed some good French preparation to take down Igor "Freshmans" Schneider:

Igor has just played 15...Ng4, attacking h2 and anticipating a sacrifice on f2. However, the cool reply 16.g3! (far superior to 15.h3 Bh2+ 16.Kf1 Nxf2! as in Starostits - Laznicka, V Olomouc Valoz Cup 2002 and Braeuning - Kuemin, Bodensee Cup 2003.) forced Black's hand with 16...Nxf2? 17.Kxf2 Rxf3+ (17...Nxd4 18.Re3 isn't much better) 18.Qxf3 Rf8 19.Bf4 Bxf4 and now the simple 20.Kg2 left Igor completely lost. He resigned on the next move. In fact, the game Papin - De Ramos, Wch U16 Chalkidiki 2003 reached the same position on move 20 with an equally disastrous result for Black.

USCL 011
Destiny members IM Davorin Kuljasevic, IM Marko Zivanic, and FM Igor Schneider prepare for week 1 action

Our new player IM Marko Zivanic played a complicated game against GM Wolff that petered out to a draw, while Bayaraa also had to concede a half-point to FM Naroditsky. Davorin heroically sacrificed an exchange against GM-elect Friedel but couldn't make any headway. All told, hardly a terrible result against one of the best teams in the league. We know we are capable of better, though.

Week 2: Dallas Destiny 3 - Arizona Scorpions 1
Things improved in Week 2 against the Arizona Scorpions. The much-hyped expansion team performed well in their league debut and was obviously itching to start 2-0. Unfortunately, Arizona internet problems resulted in some lost time for the Scorpions before play even commenced.

Let's take a look at the matchups:

Board 1: IM Drasko Boskovic vs. IM Levon Altounian
Honestly, I thought a draw on this board would be a decent result. Altounian is a super-solid IM with very reliable openings - a style that Drasko may have some problems with. I rated our chances on boards 2-4 to be superior and a quick, low-risk draw (albeit with White) was not a major cause for concern.

IM Boskovic - IM Altounian, USCL 2008
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. e5 Ng4 6. Qe2 Qe7 7. Bf4 f6 8. exf6 Nxf6 9. Nbd2 d6 10. Nb3 Bg4 11. Qxe7+ Bxe7 12. Nfxd4 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 d5 14.Be2 Bxe2 15. Kxe2 Kd7 16. Rhe1 Rhf8 17. Nf3 Rae8 18. Kf1 1/2-1/2

USCL 005
Drasko is a fan of Tic-Tacs.

Board 2: FM Danny Rensch vs. IM John Bartholomew
Danny and I last met at the 2007 World Open. Though I eventually got the better of him on that occasion, things weren't looking too hot for awhile. He is a good tactical player who isn't afraid to go for the jugular in the opening.

FM Rensch - IM Bartholomew, USCL 2008
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9. Nc3 Qe6 10. Qe4 g6 11. Bg5!?N A new move, as far as I can tell. Rensch wants to position the dark squared bishop actively before committing to f4. 11...Bg7 12. f4 d5 13. O-O-O Cute, but in the game I was really worried about 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Qb4!

Position after 14.Qb4 (Analysis)

An awkward move for Black to meet. Now my intended 14...Bxe5 is weak because of 15. Bb5+ Bd7 16.0-0! when Black's position is bordering on lost. Instead, I should probably prefer 14...c6 though White has a nice position after 15.0-0 or even 15.Ne2!? 13...h6 14. cxd5 cxd5 15. Bb5+ Best. 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Rxd5 was also interesting. Now 16...hxg5 loses to 17.Bb5+ c6 18.Rd6, but the forcing line 16...Bb7! 17.Bb5+ Kf8 18.Qb4+ Kg8 19.Rd8+ Kh7 20.Rxh8+ Rxh8 results in a very active position for Black. White's far-flung bishops do not make a good impression and a2 is almost certainly falling. 15...c6 16. Nxd5? White had to act decisively here with 16.Rxd5! when 16...hxg5 17.Bxc6+ Qxc6 18.Rd8+ Kxd8 19.Qxc6 Bd7 20.Rd1 Rc8! 21.Qb7 Rc7 results in an absurdly complicated position. 16...Nxd5 17. Rxd5 O-O The king has escaped and Black can collect the hanging pieces. 18. Rd6 Qxa2 19. Be7 19.Bc4 Qa1+ 20.Kc2 Qxh1 21.Rxg6 hxg5 sees White running out of ammunition. 18...Bf5 20. Qa4 Qb1+ 21. Kd2 Qxb2+ 22. Ke1 cxb5 0-1

Board 3: FM Igor Schneider vs. FM Robby Adamson
You can bet that Igor was expecting something tricky from Adamson in the opening. A 3...Nc6 French Tarrasch was what he got (I seem to remember something about this being called the "Guimard Variation").

FM Schneider - FM Adamson, USCL 2008
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nc6 4. c3 e5 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Ngf3 exd4 7. Bc4 Qh5 8. O-O Nf6 9. cxd4 Be7 10. Be2 Qf5 11. Nc4 O-O 12. Nce5 Nb4 13. a3 Nbd5 14. Nh4 Qe6 15. Bd3 Qd6 16. Qf3 Be6 17. Nf5 Bxf5 18. Qxf5 Rad8 19. Bg5 c6 20. Rfe1 g6 21. Qf3 Nh5 22. Bh6 Ng7 23. Rad1 Qf6 24. Qg4 Qh4 25. Qxh4 Bxh4 26. Be4 Rfe8 27.g3 Be7 28. h4 Ne6 29. Bg2 Bf6 30. Ng4 Bg7 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. Ne3 Nxe3 33. fxe3 Nc7 34. b4 f5 35. Kf2 Nb5 36. Rd3 Rd7 37. Rc1 Nd6 1/2-1/2

Robby can definitely push this B vs. N ending, but the match was already decided. It was good to see Igor get on track after the pounding he took in Week 1.

Board 4: NM Warren Harper vs. WFM Bayaraa Zorigt
Bayaraa was absolutely critical to the Destiny's success in 2007 and will play an even bigger role in 2008. She consistently delivers in tough spots and that's why we love her!


Harper held a space advantage for most of the game, but now Bayaraa struck back with 31...h5! White's overextended position cannot be maintained after this blow. 32. g5 Bg4 33. Bf3 Bxf3 34. Qxf3 Rxe5 35. Qc3 Rxf4 36. Rde1 d4 37. Qh3 Rg4+ 38. Kh1 Rxe2 39. Rxe2 Qf4 40. Rh2 Qe4+ 0-1 Click to replay

Excellent play by Bayaraa that cemented a smooth 3-1 Destiny victory.

USCL 008
Mongolian power. Bayaraa during Week 1

Tomorrow night features an extremely important match against the Boston Blitz. We will be ready for a fight. Don't sleep on the Destiny!