Anyways, all was fine, until the day before the match, when FM Harut Akopyan had messaged me saying he was feeling extremely sick and wouldn't be able to play. This sent us scrambling to figure out a respectable lineup, which was not an easy task, given the short notice and that pesky rule <2401 average rule. Anyways, we were still able to put up a reasonably good line-up, and despite being penalized 25 minutes on the bottom three boards, at one point in the match I felt that we had fairly reasonable chances to win, or at the very least tie.
The first game of the match to end was between WFM Amanda Mateer vs. Nicky Korba. Nicky was making his USCL debut and seemed to be an underdog given he had the Black pieces with a time disadvantage against a higher rated and more experienced opponent. Before the match we told him that a draw would be a good result (in hindsight perhaps this was not the best idea).
Play through the game here:
WFM Amanda Mateer (ARZ) vs Nicky Korba (LA) 1/2-1/2
After about 15 moves, it was pretty clear that Nicky had played very well, and reached a position where only Black could expect to win. The position was locked up, but to Black's favor, as they could decide when to breakthrough along the h-file. For the next few moves, Nicky again did the right thing, he set up Alekhine's Gun along the h-file and forced White to leave their major pieces awkwardly bunched up on the kingside. In this kind of position, where you are fully in control, the right strategy is to build up as much pressure as you can on one side of the board and then when the time is right...switch to the other side! So after 25.Be2, I think the right plan was to play not 25...Qf8, with idea Qh8, but 25...Qd8, where Black can menace not only Qh8 but also Qa5, followed by a7-a6 and a timely b7-b5 break to exploit White's major pieces leaving the queenside. With White's king in the center of the board, opening up the queenside for Black's queen and bishop seems quite strong.
Of course, after seeing Nicky's position on move 25, I was quite optimistic...then after taking a minute to look at the other games in the match, Matikozyan-Molner and Altounian-Amanov, I clicked back to his board and to my horror I saw that he elected to trade all the major pieces and quickly drew the game!
Although we were doing more or less okay on the other boards, Molner definitely had the better game, and I was starting to feel more and more displeased with my own position against IM Mark Ginsburg.
Full Disclosure: I played poorly =/
Full Disclosure: I played poorly =/
I had hoped Nicky would win, giving us a cushion in case Andrank and I weren't able to hold our slightly worse positions, but after seeing the game drawn I realized that a draw in the match would be a very fortunate result. Some time later, Andranik blundered a piece in an already sketchy position and around the same time I foolishly blundered a pawn. We ended up losing both games, but credit must be given to IM Molner and IM Ginsburg, who played well and made good use of their chances.
The game between IM Levon Altounian and IM Zhanibek Amanov ended peacefully--Zhanibek had tried to make something out of a drawish endgame (since he saw that two boards were in trouble), but was unable to create any kind of serious winning chances.
All in all a disappointing night, as the time disadvantage didn't really play much of a role, and we had certainly aimed to at least tie the match, but came up short. Next week the Vibe takes on the always strong New York Knights for the very first time!
And here is the final match score:
|Los Angeles Vibe||Arizona Scorpions|
|IM Andranik Matikozyan: 2470||0.0||1.0||IM Mackenzie Molner: 2511|
|IM Zhanibek Amanov: 2463||0.5||0.5||IM Levon Altounian: 2493|
|FM Konstantin Kavutskiy: 2371||0.0||1.0||IM Mark Ginsburg: 2400|
|Nicky Korba: 2007||0.5||0.5||WFM Amanda Mateer: 2144|
|Average Rating: 2328||Average Rating: 2387|
|Los Angeles Total||1.0||3.0||Arizona Total|