As several readers have pointed out, the United States Chess League had a (possible) cheating incident several days ago. As in the Bundesliga case this past weekend, there wasn't direct proof; indeed, the USCL announcement states that the investigators did not find compelling evidence of cheating. Still, the circumstantial evidence mattered, and there was a (severe) rules breach in any case. (I'm surprised that this was even possible though, as I thought that all the players were gathered together and supervised by a tournament director. Maybe that's just for the playoffs? If they're playing unsupervised from their homes, then that's pretty incredible, as all kinds of cheating is possible then. If the player was cheating under those circumstances, he deserves an award for being an especially dumb cheater.)
Entries in USCL (9)
The semi-finals of the U.S. Chess League are underway, with New York taking on Manhattan and Chicago battling Los Angeles. (New York and Chicago have draw odds in their matches, and will advance to the finals in case their matches end in a 2-2 tie.) You can watch the action live on the Internet Chess Club.
It was a good match that could have gone either way, despite the 3-1 score and despite that the fact the first "game" to finish never started. For whatever reason, Miami's board 3, Charles Galofre, never showed up, which clearly didn't help. Miami struck back on board four in very impressive style, as Nicholas Rosenthal obliterated Alex Cherniack even though he was almost 250 points lower rated.
The result of the other two games were in doubt until very near the end. On board 1, Sam Shankland stood better in an opposite-colored bishop ending that many spectators thought would be drawn (I was much less sure, but I wasn't positive that it was a win, either), but Miami's Julio Becerra failed to hold it: 2-1 New England.
In the last game to finish, Miami's Marcel Martinez had a couple of extra pawns against Robert Hungaski, who had earlier declined a draw. Hungaski had compensation, but it seemed that all three results were possible until near the end. The final move of the game, the match and the USCL season was a nice crusher, and with that the New England Nor'easters were the champs.
(USCL website here.)
6 p.m. ET (server time) on ICC: the New England Nor'easters take on the Miami Sharks. Here are the lineups:
Shankland (NE) - Becerra (MIA)
M Martinez (MIA) - Hungaski (NE)
Chase (NE) - Galofre (MIA)
Rosenthal (MIA) - Cherniak (NE)
Last night saw the US Chess League Semi-Finals, with one tough match and one easy one. Miami didn't have too much trouble dispensing with Arizona, 3-1, but Boston vs. "New England" (i.e. Boston 2) was a real battle. Boston won on board 3 and New England on board 4 without too much trouble, but there was plenty of drama on the top two boards, brought about by Boston's need to win the match outright. (New England had draw odds for the match based on their better regular season record.) On board 1, Christiansen (BOS) had some winning chances against Shankland (NE), but it was far from clear that he could win. [DM: This next sentence is a revision.] On board 2, Sammour (BOS) missed a win against Hungaski (NE) early in the game, and although the subsequent ending was about even Hungaski pushed and was rewarded when Sammour was faced with the loss of the exchange or mate. With heroic play Christiansen managed to win his game after all, but at this point it was too late: New England advanced with the 2-2 tie.
The final match will be on Saturday, November 20.
The match ended up 2-2: Becerra (Miami) beat Kacheishvili on board 1, Herman (New York) beat Moreno Roman on board 3, and the lower boards drew. It was on therefore to the blitz tiebreaks, which went like this: the fourth boards played, and if a player lost he was eliminated and the board four winner played the opposing team's board three player, and so on up the food chain. It played out like this: Norowitz (NY) beat Rodriguez, but then lost to Moreno Roman who then defeated Herman and Charbonneau as well. Kacheishvili stopped him, beat Lugo, and then even managed to defeat Becerra with Black in the grand finale. Congrats to New York!
At 7 p.m., on ICC, the U.S. Chess League finale gets underway. The teams are the New York Knights and the Miami Sharks; here are the pairings:
GM Julio Becerra (2615) - GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (2666)
IM Blas Lugo (2351) - GM Pascal Charbonneau (2560)
IM Alejandro Moreno Roman (2331) - NM Matt Herman (2275)
NM Eric Rodriguez (2290) - NM Yaacov Norowitz (2354)
The first column is Miami, the latter New York. Miami has White on boards 1 and 3. More info, including tiebreak rules, can be found here.
This week saw the U.S. Chess League semi-finals come and go, and the result is that Miami will face New York in the finals. New York, which has three teams in the USCL (New York, Queens, and New Jersey while Indiana has none), defeated New Jersey 2.5-1.5 while Miami beat San Francisco by the same score. The date for the final hasn't yet been set (at least not on the USCL site), but to whet your appetite here's a funny and impressive game from the Miami-San Francisco semi-final.
US Chess League, Internet Chess Club, 2009
White: Becerra, Julio (2557)
Black: Nakamura, Hikaru (2710)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd5 d6 9.Bc4 Qe7 10.Bg5 f6 11.0-0-0 dxe5 12.Rhe1 1-0
(The game, with comments, can be replayed here.)
The next time you're miniatured, remember that it even happens to the best players in the world. Errare humanum est!