At this writing, we are waiting for the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, which starts Nov. 9. In the meantime, here is a quick look at the US Chess League, in which the quarterfinals are underway. The first- and second-place teams in each division are playing each other. In the Northeast Conference, the New England Nor’easters, based at Boylston CC, qualified for the playoffs by winning the Northeast Division by a score of 7-3. They were tied with Dallas for the second-highest division score behind the Southern leader, the Miami Sharks.
The Nor’easters twice faced the Connecticut Dreadnoughts in the regular season, drawing both their matches. In their quarterfinal match, the dreaded Dreadnoughts featured Robert Hess Jay Bonin, Michael Rohde, and Leif Pressman. The Nor’easters countered with Alexander Ivanov, Steve Winer, Mika Brattain, and Lawyer Times. Sam Shankland, a Samford scholar, played in just three matches this year as he was finishing up at Brandeis. The Nor’easters survived the quarterfinals by drawing their match and will be moving on to face the New York Knights in the Eastern Conference finals.
It is interesting to look at some of the heros in the league this year. A secret weapon for the Nor’easters’ was its fourth board, Times, who accumulated a perfect 6-0 record during the regular season. Times has been a stalwart and an outstanding player at both the Boylston and Metrowest Chess Clubs for many years.
Jeffrey Xiong is another new national sensation. He is 11 years old and a sixth grader in Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He is the first player to achieve an 8-0 record in the USCL. One would think that Xiong would have been playing on fourth board to compile such a record, but he was actually playing on third and second board, mowing down GM’s such as Larry Kaufman, a former US Senior Chess champion.
Xiong is listed in the USCL as having a 2486 rating, which makes him the 48th strongest player in the league, just one point behind Samuel Sevian, now 12 years old. Shawn Bartholomae, a chess player who’s also the CEO of Irving,Texas-based Prodigy Oil and Gas, provides financial support for Xiong, to help cover his chess costs. Xiong shows “unusual promise,” Bartholomae said. Of course, the US Chess League games are not rated, but we can imagine what would happen to Xiong’s rating if they were. Xiong is the top-ranked 11-year-old chess player in the country and he has a four-year scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas waiting for him when he comes of age.
Brevity: M. Levine v, A. Santasiere 1922 - 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.g4 Bg6 5.e6 Nf6 6.Nd2 fxe6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.g5 Ne4 9.Nxe4 Bxe4 10.Bd3 Bf5 11.h4 g6 12.h5 Bg7 13.h6 Bf8 14.Bf4 c5 15.dxc5 Qa5+ 16.c3 Qxc5 17.Nf3 Bg4 18.Be3 Qd6 19.Bxg6+ hxg6 20.Qd4 Bxf3 21.Qxh8 Qa6; 0-1
Winners: Sven Brask Fall Classic: 1st: George Winsor, 3.5-0.5 2d-3d: Andrew Hoy, Jim Aspinall, 2.5-1.5; Vermont Open: 1st: Alexander Ivanov, 4-0. 2d: Gabriel Katz, 3.5-.5, 3d (tie):
Ted Belanoff, Jared Becker, and Jonathan Kuehne, 3-1
Coming Events: Larry Christiansen Simultaneous, South Station, 700 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Nov. 12, 5-7 p.m.