Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Week 4 Preview

Atlanta Kings vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
IM Carlos Perdomo (2400) - IM Tanguy Ringoir (2583)
NM Damir Studen (2372) - IM Levan Bregadze (2530)
NM Richard Francisco (2382) - NM Jared Defibaugh (2325)
NM Michael Corallo (2284) - NM Andrew Zheng (2208)

Wednesday, 7:30 PM EDT
Time Control: 75 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Atlanta Kings will meet the Baltimore Kingfishers for the first time. This is Atlanta's first season in the USCL. In the Southern Division, Atlanta (1.5-1.5 match record) is in 3rd place (of 6) while Baltimore (1.0-2.0) is in 5th place. Atlanta is using the same lineup as last week when they played the New Jersey Knockouts. Meanwhile, Baltimore's boards 2, 3, and 4 return from last week's match against the Los Angeles Vibe.

Board 1: IM Carlos Perdomo vs. IM Tanguy Ringoir. IM Carlos Perdomo drew his first USCL game last week on Board 1 with the black pieces against GM Alex Stripunsky of the New Jersey Knockouts for a 2656 performance rating. Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, Baltimore's Board 1 is making his USCL debut. This time, it is IM Tanguy Ringoir from Belgium, the latest chess recruit of the University of Maryland: Baltimore County (UMBC).

Board 2: IM Levan Bregadze vs. NM Damir Studen. IM Levan Bregadze won last week on Board 2 with the white pieces against FM Konstantin Kavutskiy of the Los Angeles Vibe. He is (+1 -1) with a 2578 performance rating in his 3rd USCL season and 2nd season for Baltimore. Facing him will be NM Damir Studen, who is (+2 -1) with a 2631 performance rating in his first USCL season. NM Damir Studen lost last week on Board 2 with the white pieces against GM Joel Benjamin of the New Jersey Knockouts.

Board 3: NM Richard Francisco vs. NM Jared Defibaugh. NM Richard Francisco has a (+2 =1) record with a 2578 performance rating in his first USCL season. He drew last week on Board 3 with the black pieces against IM Alexander Katz of the New Jersey Knockouts. His opponent, NM Jared Defibaugh is (=2 -1) in his 5th USCL season with a 2206 performance rating. NM Defibaugh drew last week on Board 3 with the black pieces against FM Mark Duckworth of the Los Angeles Vibe.

Board 4: NM Andrew Zheng vs. NM Michael Corallo. NM Andrew Zheng has scored (+2 -1) with a 2280 performance rating in his second USCL season. He lost last week on Board 4 with the white pieces against FM Michael Casella of the Los Angeles Vibe. Squaring-off against him will be NM Michael Corallo. In NM Michael Corallo's first career USCL game last week, he drew on Board 4 with the white pieces against Ethan Klein of the New Jersey Knockouts.

Catch the games live on ICC and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls linked below/shown to the right!
Board 1 Result? | Board 2 Result? | Board 3 Result? | Board 4 Result? | Match Result?



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Week 3 Review

Los Angeles Vibe vs. Baltimore Kingfishers 1.5-2.5
IM Andranik Matikozyan (2538) - GM Akshayraj Kore (2543) 0-1 View Game
FM Konstantin Kavutskiy (2397) - IM Levan Bregadze (2530) 0-1 View Game
FM Mark Duckworth (2316) - NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) 0.5-0.5 View Game
FM Michael Casella (2262) - NM Andrew Zheng (2208) 1-0 View Game

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Baltimore Kingfishers defeated the Los Angeles Vibe in the first meeting between these two teams. Baltimore won on the top two boards and secured a draw on board 3 while Los Angeles won on Board 4. Baltimore (1.0-2.0 in match points) remains in 5th place (of 6) in the Southern Division. Los Angeles drops to a (0.0-3.0) record and 6th place (of 6) in the Western Division.

Board 1: IM Andranik Matikozyan vs. GM Akshayraj Kore. On the top board, what started as a Ruy Lopez: Berlin Defense quickly transformed into a mix of the Wormald Attack (Ba4 and Qe2 for white) and the Moller Defense (a6, Nf6, and Bc5 for black). Surprisingly, the delayed exchange 8. Bxc6 was a novelty by IM Andranik Matikozyan. The middle game briefly featured two white knights vs. two black bishops where black seemed to have a slight advantage with play focusing on the center of the board. Then, GM Akshayraj Kore riskily took white's a2-pawn, and suddenly, it was white on the attack. White missed a few opportunities for a clear advantage and in time pressure, missed a mate in 2 that ended the game.

Board 2: IM Levan Bregadze vs. FM Konstantin Kavutskiy. Board 2 saw a Bogo-Indian Defense: Vitolins variation (4... c5). FM Konstantin Kavutskiy played the novelty 13... bxa3. The early middle was generally a solid but slow maneuvering battle until black perhaps overextended with the e-pawn push. Then, it liquidated into a rook and 2 pawns vs. rook and 1 pawn endgame where white had a clear win (with a bit of calculation). Instead, the game went into a queen ending with IM Levan Bregadze having an extra pawn, but it was actually a technically drawn ending. Black finally erred on move 75 and white was soon able to promote his final pawn. The game lasted a total of 90 moves before black resigned.

Board 3: FM Mark Duckworth vs. NM Jared Defibaugh. The third board featured a Trompowsky Attack answered with 2. d5. The novelty was 7... Qb6, played by NM Jared Defibaugh. [Note: This is one of the few times I have been able to cite a previous USCL game (FM Daniel Rensch - FM Michael Lee, 9/16/2009) in the analysis.] The middle game saw an interesting opening of the h-file with black having doubled-pawns on the f-file and g-file. Black missed a chance to gain an advantage (21... Rh2), and then, FM Mark Duckworth went for a line that saw white give a perpetual check.

Board 4: NM Andrew Zheng vs. FM Michael Casella. Board 4 started with a King's Indian Defense, but veered away from the Classical variation with 6... Nc6. FM Michael Casella played the novelty 8... e6. NM Andrew Zheng tried to open the game even more with 18... f4, but in retrospect, that seems too ambitious as black was the one who most benefited in the game. However, it was still fairly even until the blunder 25. Rd4 and the response 25... Nd3 forced the win of at least an exchange. In the end, black had pinned down white's pieces and NM Zheng resigned after 30 moves.


Note that GM Akshayraj Kore won his first game in his USCL debut.


Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Week 3 Preview

Los Angeles Vibe vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
IM Andranik Matikozyan (2538) - GM Akshayraj Kore (2543)
FM Konstantin Kavutskiy (2397) - IM Levan Bregadze (2530)
FM Mark Duckworth (2316) - NM Jared Defibaugh (2325)
FM Michael Casella (2262) - NM Andrew Zheng (2208)

Tuesday, 9:00 PM EDT
Time Control: 60 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Los Angeles Vibe and the Baltimore Kingfishers finally face-off for the first time in the USCL. This meeting took awhile as Los Angeles is playing in its 5th season and Baltimore is in its 10th season. Both teams are seeking the first match points of the season as Los Angeles (0.0-2.0 match record) currently is in 6th place (of 6) in the Western Division while Baltimore (0.0-2.0 match record) is in 5th place (of 6) in the Southern Division. Los Angeles is using the same lineup as last week when they played the Rio Grande Ospreys. Meanwhile, Baltimore's bottom two boards return for a 3rd week in a row while the top two boards continue to shuffle.

Board 1: IM Andranik Matikozyan vs. GM Akshayraj Kore. IM Andranik Matikozyan, a 5-year veteran with Los Angeles, drew last week on Board 1 with the white pieces against GM Anton Kovalyov of the Rio Grande Ospreys. He is (=1 -1) on the season with a 2497 performance rating. His opponent, GM Akshayraj Kore, is making his USCL debut. GM Akshayraj Kore currently attends the University of Maryland: Baltimore County (UMBC).

Board 2: IM Levan Bregadze vs. FM Konstantin Kavutskiy. IM Levan Bregadze is playing in his 3rd USCL season though only his 2nd season for Baltimore. He lost his only game this year in Week 1 on Board 2 with the white pieces against GM Varuzhan Akobian of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. That starts him off with a 2358 performance rating. He will battle FM Konstantin Kavutskiy, who is playing in his 5th USCL and 4th for Los Angeles. FM Kavutskiy lost last week on Board 2 with the black pieces against GM Andrey Stukopin of the Rio Grande Ospreys. He is (=1 -1) this year with a 2387 performance rating. Coincidentally, both of these players spent a season on the St. Louis Arch Bishops roster though not the same season.

Board 3: FM Mark Duckworth vs. NM Jared Defibaugh. FM Mark Duckworth, playing in his 2nd USCL season, is (-2) so far in this season with a 1957 performance rating. He lost last week on Board 3 with the white pieces against WGM Katerina Nemcova of the Rio Grande Ospreys. He will play NM Jared Defibaugh, who is (=1 -1) in his 5th USCL season with a 2151 performance rating. NM Defibaugh lost last week on Board 3 with the white pieces against NM Kevin Mo of the Carolina Cobras.

Board 4: NM Andrew Zheng vs. FM Michael Casella. NM Andrew Zheng is (+2) in the USCL this year. He won last week on Board 4 with the black pieces against FM Robin Cunningham of the Carolina Cobras, giving NM Zheng a 2489 performance rating and 8th place (four-way tie for 6th) in the USCL MVP Leaderboard. Challenging him will be FM Michael Casella, who returned to Los Angeles for a 4th season after taking 2013 off. In his only game this season, FM Casella won last week on Board 4 with the black pieces against Jeffrey Serna of the Rio Grande Ospreys for a 2474 performance rating.

Catch the games live on ICC and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls linked below/shown to the right!
Board 1 Result? | Board 2 Result? | Board 3 Result? | Board 4 Result? | Match Result?



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Saturday, September 6, 2014

2014 Week 2 Review

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Carolina Cobras 1-3
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2450) - IM Kassa Korley (2486) 0-1 View Game
GM Larry Kaufman (2405) - NM Ilker Bozkurt (2383) 0-1 View Game
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - NM Kevin Mo (2334) 0-1 View Game
NM Andrew Zheng (2208) - FM Robin Cunningham (2268) 1-0 View Game

Note: Players in italic had the white pieces.


The Carolina Cobras defeated the Baltimore Kingfishers by a 3-1 score. Carolina scored victories on the top three boards while Baltimore recouped a win on Board 4. Carolina moves into 4th place in the USCL's Southern Division while Baltimore drops into 5th place.

Board 1: IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat vs. IM Kassa Korley. The first board featured a Closed Catalan Opening with a novelty, 7... Na5, played by IM Kassa Korley. Rather suddenly, the a-file opened up and a multitude of exchanges were made until an opposite-colored bishop ending appeared on the board. Black was able to press due to his outside passed b-pawn being a promotion threat despite IM Korley never moving it farther than b5! In the end, he was able to advance his two kingside pawns and guarantee promotions before IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat resigned.

Board 2: NM Ilker Bozkurt vs. GM Larry Kaufman. The second board exhibited a French Defense: McCutcheon Variation with 8. Qg4 Kf8. Black playing Na5 was the novelty in this game as well though it occurred on move 17 here. Shortly after, there was a takeback incident when 21. exf6 gxf6 appeared on the board. Apparently, NM Ilker Bozkurt was playing with a physical board and writing moves on a scoresheet, and after 20... f6 was played, he instinctively typed "f6" to record the move rather than writing it on his scoresheet. The chess interface interpreted this as a move. After the onsite TD for Carolina verified that 21. exf6 was not played on the physical board and discussed it with the USCL TD, the takeback was granted with extra time given to GM Larry Kaufman per the USCL Rules, Section C. As the game resumed, black pressed on the queenside while white manuevered on the kingside. Black seemed to be making more progress until 34. g4 opened up possibilities on the kingside. Playing in time pressure, GM Larry Kaufman missed NM Bozkrurt's checkmate idea until the final position appeared, and then, his time ran out.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Kevin Mo. Board 3 saw a sharp opening with a Semi-Slav Defense: Anti-Meran Variation, Shirov-Shabalov Gambit (7. g4). The novelty was 12. Bd2, played by NM Jared Defibaugh. A game between two former USCL players, IM Daniel Fernandez and IM Lev Milman, saw 12. g5 played (See analysis board below for full game). Perhaps wanting to avoid losing an exchange, NM Defibaugh played the line starting with 15. Ne5, which dropped a pawn. The line 15. Be2 Nxd2 16. Rxd2 Bf4 17. Kb1 Bxd2 18. Qxd2 offers white compensation for the exchange as white retains a presence in the middle of the board and black does not have a clearly good way to break into white's side of the board. NM Defibaugh tried to hold on while down a pawn for about 50 moves, but NM Kevin Mo sure-handedly converted the rook and pawns endgame.

Board 4: FM Robin Cunningham vs. NM Andrew Zheng. Board 4 showcased another French Defense though this game was a Steinitz Variation with 5. Nf3. NM Andrew Zheng played the novelty 9... Qb6. FM Robin Cunningham offered the b-pawn and NM Zheng took it thinking it was not as poisoned as in other openings. NM Cunningham tried to play energetically (i.e. 15. Bb5), but black calmly defended solidly. There must have been some miscalculation on white's part as the game ended with him down 2 rooks.

Note that NM Kevin Mo chalked up his first points and victory in the USCL while NM Ilker Bozkurt scored his first victory as well.

Next week, the Baltimore Kingfishers face the Los Angeles Vibe for the first time ever on Tuesday, September 9th starting at 9PM EDT.



Reposted at: Chess.com blogs

Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Week 2 Preview

Baltimore Kingfishers vs. Carolina Cobras
IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2450) - IM Kassa Korley (2486)
GM Larry Kaufman (2405) - NM Ilker Bozkurt (2383)
NM Jared Defibaugh (2325) - NM Kevin Mo (2334)
NM Andrew Zheng (2208) - FM Robin Cunningham (2268)

Wednesday, 7:20 PM EDT
Time Control: 75 min. with 30 sec. increment

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.


The Baltimore Kingfishers and the Carolina Cobras square-off in a USCL Southern Division match. Both teams have played in all 10 seasons of the US Chess League. Both teams also come into this match with the same 0.0-1.0 season record with 1.5/4.0 games points. The all-time series between these two teams is tied up at 4.5-4.5 with Baltimore holding the slimmest possible margin in game points at 18.5-17.5. These two teams last played in Week 7, 2011, a match that ended in a draw. Three Baltimore players (IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat, GM Larry Kaufman, and NM Jared Defibaugh) and 1 Carolina player (IM Kassa Korley) from that match return to play in this match.

Board 1: IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat vs. IM Kassa Korley. IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat will begin his 10th season, having played a team record 67 career games for Baltimore. His record last year was (+1 =3 -3) for a 2339 performance rating. He has also scored (+3 =2 -3) in his career against Carolina. His opponent, IM Kassa Korley, is playing his 3rd season for the Carolina Cobras. IM Kassa Korley won last week on Board 1 with the white pieces against SM Deepak Aaron of the Atlanta Kings for a 2846 performance rating. He did not play in the USCL last year. He has a (+1) record against Baltimore. Also, note these two players met on Board 2 in Week 7, 2011 with a then-FM Kassa Korley winning with the white pieces.

Board 2: NM Ilker Bozkurt vs. GM Larry Kaufman. NM Ilker Bozkurt is participating in his first USCL season. He drew FM Kazim Gulamali of the Atlanta Kings on Board 3 with the white pieces for a 2397 performance rating. He will face GM Larry Kaufman, who is another Baltimore player starting his 10th USCL season. GM Larry Kaufman has 54 career games played with Baltimore and a (+3 =2 -1) record against Carolina. He had a tough season last year with a (=1 -3) record and a 2156 performance rating.

Board 3: NM Jared Defibaugh vs. NM Kevin Mo. NM Jared Defibaugh, a 5 season veteran with 29 career games played for Baltimore, drew last week on Board 3 with the black pieces against WGM Anna Sharevich of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. That starts him off with a 2367 performance rating this season. He has scored (+1 =1) against Carolina in his career. He will battle NM Kevin Mo, who is playing his 2nd season for Carolina. NM Kevin Mo lost last week on Board 4 with the black pieces against NM Richard Francisco of the Atlanta Kings for a 1982 performance rating. Last year, he had a (-4) record with a 2083 performance rating, so he is still looking to score his first point in the USCL.

Board 4: FM Robin Cunningham vs. NM Andrew Zheng. FM Robin Cunningham will debut in his 2nd season for the Carolina Cobras. He recorded a (+1 =5 -1) season last year for a 2308 performance rating. On the other side of the board will be NM Andrew Zheng, playing in his 2nd year with only 2 career games played. NM Andrew Zheng won last week on Board 4 with the white pieces against Jacob Wilkins of the St. Louis Arch Bishops. He begins the season with a 2309 performance rating.

Catch the games live on ICC and let us know your predictions in the 5 polls linked below/shown to the right!
Board 1 Result? | Board 2 Result? | Board 3 Result? | Board 4 Result? | Match Result?


Update: Added career records against opposing team when available.

Reposted at: Chess.com blogs