October 9th, 2012- Connecticut falls to Miami

By NM Ian Harris:

At the beginning of the 2012 US Chess League season, fans were abuzz about the arrival about the new team the Connecticut Dreadnoughts, based out of the Chess Club of Fairfield County. Our convenient location made it possible for us to recruit players from Connecticut and New York. There was much hype about our roster which includes top Grandmaster Robert Hess, young superstars SM Joshua Colas and NM Kapil Chandran, as well as a great mix of talented and underrated masters. Many predicted the Dreadnoughts to go all the way to the championships in their first season and indeed we also had aspirations to do so.

Some pre-match deliberations.

However, just as I cautioned in a pre-season interview, there are no easy matches in the USCL! Last night was a painful reminder of this as the Dreadnoughts suffered their first loss of the season against the Miami Sharks. Early in the match things seemed under control and the games were going more or less as planned. GM Mikheil Kekelidze was nursing a slight advantage against GM Julio Becerra, IM Justin Sarkar got the best of his opponent in a tactical melee, and SM Joshua Colas was in an excellent endgame position and nearly mating his opponent. Unfortunately, SM Arlsan Otchiyev was having a hard time on board three when right out of the opening his opponent took control of the initiative and never let go.

Despite a loss on 3, it looked like we were going to cruise to an easy victory, possibly scoring 3-1 if Mikheil managed to win. In a most unfortunate turn of events Miami doubled down and began to turn the match around. After just one inaccuracy, Josh’s opponent immediately capitalized and he found himself defending a pawn down endgame where White even came close to winning. Josh defended accurately and the game ended in a draw. Justin’s game also became complicated when his opponent managed to rip open his king’s protection and after a long king march he was unable to find safety and was forced to repeat the position. This put the pressure on Mikheil who still had a slight advantage, but now needed to win to save the match. Becerra eventually managed to neutralize his play and the game was drawn.

Watching the games.

This match will only be a temporary setback to our goal to finish atop the Eastern Division. There are still four matches remaining in the regular season and we still have some tricks up our sleeves. Fortunately, nobody was able to really distance themselves as the clear frontrunners in our division. New York drew and now holds a tentative half-point lead and can be caught by Manhattan tonight. Connecticut, New Jersey and perhaps Philadelphia will all be a half-point behind. The Dreadnoughts are perfectly capable of making a strong final push, so no team can rest on their laurels.

We still need to face fellow contenders Manhattan, New Jersey, Philadelphia which gives us the opportunity to bounce back and leapfrog them. Ultimately, our aspirations have not changed and we still intend to live up to the pre-season hype. You will not want to miss what is sure to be some dramatic action, as the Dreadnoughts fight their way back to the top of the Eastern Division. Tune in online or visit the Chess Club of Fairfield County in person to root for the team as we put our last few matches in the past and look to rebound over the next few weeks.