by Grant Oen
In our debut into the US Chess League, the Atlanta Kings were victorious Tuesday night against the Carolina Cobras. The Kings, who brought a strong 2399 lineup, edged out the Cobras 2.5-1.5, who featured 2400+ IMs on boards 1 and 2 and a 2407 lineup.
The USCL is an online league, played over the Internet Chess Club, which pits top players from 18 cities across the country against each other. Atlanta’s squad plays from Emory University.
Each week, team managers select 4 players from the 9-player rosters to represent the team. All lineups must average under 2401 USCF. There are some caveats to this rule, including the ability to use any 2014 USCF rating supplement, and top players 2600+ may count as only 2600. USCL matches take place each Tuesday and Wednesday night – throughout the season, Atlanta will play 2 more Tuesday matches and 7 Wednesday matches for a total of 10 regular season matches. Every team’s immediate goal is to play well enough to qualify for the playoffs and post-season matches, which lead up to the national 2014 USCL Championship on December 3rd.
We are very proud of the four players who represented Atlanta this week in our debut match, held at Emory University Tuesday evening.
Results: Atlanta vs Carolina
(click the match to open the pgn file)
Final Score: 2.5-1.5 Atlanta
Carolina’s board 1 IM Kassa Korley (2486) played an inspired game against Atlanta’s Deepak Aaron (2446) to give the Cobras a 1-0 lead. The King’s team victory was in no small part due to Damir Studen’s (2372) exciting board 2 victory over IM Jonathan Schroer (2426), tying the match 1-1. FM Kazim Gulamali (2397) showed nice preparation in the Scheveningen Sicilian, holding a solid draw vs Ilker Bozkurt (2383). With the match tied 1.5-1.5, Richard Francisco (2382) played an up-and-down game vs Kevin Mo (2334) in a 5.d3 Ruy Lopez. Richard sustained good nerves and technique to win in the end, giving Atlanta the 2.5/4 victory.
In-depth Review Week 1 Games (Atlanta Kings vs Carolina Cobras):
Board 1 – Duke University student IM Kassa Korley (CAR 2486) played an inspired game as White against Atlanta’s Deepak Aaron (ATL 2446). The newly minted IM played 1.e3, but the game soon resembled a Queen’s Gambit structure. After some inaccuracies by Aaron and creative maneuvers by Korley, Carolina jumped to a 1-0 lead.
Board 2 – In a complex queen’s pawn opening, the position was dynamically equal for a long time, but Carolina’s IM Jonathan Schroer (2426), playing Black, quickly sank into serious time pressure, down 20-30 minutes against Atlanta’s Damir Studen (2372) as early as move 20. Damir infiltrated on the queenside, meanwhile never letting his experienced opponent obtain counterplay or escape time trouble. Just as Studen was about to promote a new queen, Schroer allowed his flag to fall. Damir’s solid technique allowed Atlanta to reestablish the equilibrium: 1-1.
Board 3 – In a dynamic Scheveningen Sicilian, FM Kazim Gulamali (ATL 2397), playing Black, introduced a theoretical novelty in 15…e5!? Garry Kasparov himself had twice played 15…Rad8, most recently being a loss to Vishy Anand in their 1995 PCA World Championship match. Kazim showed good understanding of the Sicilian with 18…d5!, equalizing immediately. Though Gulamali’s position was never worse in this game, Ilker Bozkurt (CAR 2383) escaped most of his middlegame troubles. The similarly-rated players reached an interesting double rook and bishop endgame, and White was able to force a repetition. The match being tied 1.5 each, the last game on board 4 would decide the match.
Board 4 – In an up-and-down game stemming from a 5.d3 Ruy Lopez, the players followed the game Vladimirov – Kaidanov, Calcutta 2000, until Kevin Mo’s (CAR 2334) inaccurate knight jump: 11…Nd4. Playing white, Richard Francisco (ATL 2382) exerted some pressure onto Black’s position, obtaining a small edge by move 20. An inaccuracy by Francisco on move 22 forced Atlanta’s team to face defeat in its first match. However, in mutual time pressure, Duke student Kevin Mo lost the thread, turning his advantage into equality and soon after even a serious disadvantage in the matter of minutes. The other 3 boards having finished by this point, Richard showed excellent nerves, technique, and fighting spirit (declining a move repetition which would have tied the match) in the endgame, converting his passed pawn into Atlanta’s first USCL victory.
Highlights from elsewhere around the league on Tuesday include GM Alex Lenderman’s victory over USCL powerhouse GM Julio Becerra.
Our next match is against the Connecticut Dreadnoughts, one of the two teams in the league to feature four GMs on their roster. Although the Dreadnoughts are fresh off a convincing 3-1 victory over Miami (including Lenderman 1-0 Becerra on board 1). Atlanta is anxious to continue our good start. The next match is Wednesday, Sept 3rd at 7:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome to join us. Atlanta will be playing from Emory University, on the ground floor of Candler Hall. More details here. For those of you not able to join us at Emory next Wednesday, games can be followed on ICC. We will also be providing live game updates on our Facebook page.
As a reminder, here is Atlanta’s roster:
We hope to see you next Wednesday, September 3rd at Emory for week 2!