Saturday, August 21, 2010

USCL 2010!

A new season is upon us. The last time the New York Knights were in action, Giorgi Kacheishvili was conducting the black pieces in an Armageddon blitz game against Miami's Julio Becerra. With the clock well past midnight, Giorgi converted a better position in a Sicilian and brought the 2009 USCL title to New York.

Eight and a half months later, the USCL has three new teams (New England, St. Louis and Los Angeles) and unfortunately lost its Tennessee franchise.

The Knights have undergone some changes, turning over half the roster by adding GM Alex Lenderman, FM Alec Getz and the 3-headed board 4 of NM Alex Ostrovskiy, Justus Williams and Alexander Katz.

We lost Knights veteran and US Chess legend IM Jay Bonin, 2009 Rookie of the Year Yaacov Norowitz (surely the league's most underrated player last year and one of the world's best blitz players), NM Evan Rosenberg (whose stunning performance at the New York International in June netted him an IM norm) and NM Raven Sturt.

As the USCL has abolished the "alternate" roster spots, we also said goodbye to SM Greg Braylovsky (a Knight legend from the earliest days of the USCL who has taken his talents to the Manhattan Applesauce) and SM Igor Sorkin.

To kick-off the season, the Knights have the "home court" against their long-time rivals, the Boston Blitz. The Knights defeated the Blitz last year en route to the championship and lead the series 6.5-5.5.

Board 1 features USCL powerhouse GM Alex Lenderman (11/12 in league play, 2/2 against GMs) against living legend GM Larry Christiansen (3-time US Champion, 20.5/34 in league play). Christiansen's wild game against Giorgi in last year's playoffs proved to be a deciding factor in sending NY to the semifinals.

Board 2 sees noted Boston-killer GM Pascal Charbonneau (6.5/8 all-time against Boston) against SM Denys Shmelov. Pascal recently had a disappointing performance in New England ( and is sure to want to score some regional revenge.

FM Alec Getz (#4 rated 16-yr old in the US) makes his debut for the Knights on board 3 against Boston veteran NM Vadim Martirosov (who beat your author in last year's quarterfinals in a crazy game). Alec is in the middle of an impressive year, winning the National High School Championship and netting an IM norm with 5.5/9 at the Philadelphia Open a few months ago.

NM Alex Ostrovskiy is playing his first game for the New York Knights against the ever-quotable and dangerous NM Ilya Krasik on board 4. Alex gained an incredible 228 rating points in 11 months (June 2009 - May 2010) to become the #2 rated 14-yr old in the US, trailing only San Francisco's FM Daniel Naroditsky.

Unless I am mistaken, it appears to be the first time that any of these individual matchups has occurred, so look out for some fireworks!

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