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Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The US Chess League is in full flower. There are 16 teams, eight each in the Eastern Division and Western Division. The regular season schedule started on Sept. 4 and extends for 10 weeks through Nov 7. The playoffs start on Nov 12. There will be four qualifiers from each division to determine the division champion. Then the division champions play each other in one final “walk-off match” for the championship.

The league, whose financing is in its infancy, receives some money from the poker folks and turns it over to the teams to help attract prominent players such as Sam Shankland, Alexander Ivanov, and Joel Benjamin. However, volunteers staff the teams. The USCL matches are shown live on ICC and Chess.com and are preserved on USCL’s website, which is a treasure trove of fine games.

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Each team has a roster of 10 players, and chooses four players for each match. The players on the New England Nor’easters’ top boards are headed by Shankland, Ivanov, David Vigorito, and Charles Reardon. Reardon has a total of 10.5 points and is one of the league leaders. The USCL has a lot of fun choosing the “best game of the week.” It is rare that a draw is chosen as, but in Week 4, Denys Shmelov of the Boston Blitz shared the selection with Conrad Holt of the Dallas Destiny in a hotly contested Slav defense.

In the Western Division at this writing the Dallas Destiny has been dominating the standings but took an unexpected loss against the Arizona Scorpions in Round 7.

At the end of that round, Dallas still led with 5 match points, but barely ahead of the St. Louis Archbishops and the Seattle Sluggers, both with 4.5 points. The Arizona Scorpions occupied fourth place with 3.5 points.

New England has three teams: the new Connecticut Dreadnaughts, the Boston Blitz, and the New England Nor’easters. At the end of Round 7, Dreadnaughts had an even score 3.5-3.5, the Blitz were 3-4, as were the Nor’easters, (who were league champions two years ago) The Philadelphia Inventors had the lead with 4.5-2.5, so the spread between the top and the bottom teams was only 1.5 points. With three matches to go, and with four qualifiers for the playoffs, it appeared that the New England teams had some hope of recovery. But in round 8, these hopes simply melted down. The Inventors sank the Dreadnaughts, the New York Knights muffled the Nor’easters 2.5-1.5 and the Manhattan Applesauce slowed down the Blitz, also by a score of 2.5 to 1.5. The three New England teams aren’t mathematically eliminated, but their chances of qualifying are bleak.

Brevity: M.Aguirre vs. J Granda-Zuniga (1982) 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 b4 9.Ne4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Bb7 11.0–0 Be7 12.Bd2 0–0 13.Qa4 Qb6 14.Rfc1 Rfc8 15.Rc4 f5 16.Bb1 a5 17.Rc1 Nf6 18.Qd1c5 19.dxc5 Bxc5 20.Qe2 Qd6 21.Bd3 Ng4; 0-1

Winners: Boylston Grand Prix. Tie for 1st, Eric Godin, Arthur Tang, Syed Al-Mamun all 3-1.: Blackstone Fall Open: 1st, Alexander Ivanov 2.5-.5; Under 1800, 1st, Tom Beechey 3-0

Coming Events: 3d annual Eastern Team Championship, Nov. 2-4 or 3-4, Sheraton Hotel, 700 Main St., Stamford, Conn, www.chess
tour.com. Boylston Thurs. Night Swiss Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29, and Quads, Nov. 3, 240B Elm Street, Somerville; www.boylstonchessclub.org.

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