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2010 US Chess League Preview Print E-mail
By Arun Sharma   
August 18, 2010
As the young people of the country (myself included) prepare to make the dreaded return to school, I try to reminisce to back when this time frame did not coincide with the start of the US Chess League. Even though this is only the sixth season of the USCL, relatively young in most people's estimation, the League has become such a mainstay to me that those times when this part of the year did not bring the USCL to the forefront of my mind are a distant memory. 

For the past three seasons I've declared my last year running the League with founder and commissioner Greg Shahade and yet I still remain. By some stroke of good or bad luck (depending on your perspective), my teaching job which was to have me working in the late afternoon/early evening - a time far too late to deal with the USCL on the West Coast- was mysteriously changed to early morning hours.  A rather puzzling development. I don't know if some higher power is determined to keep me involved in the League or if Greg simply bribed the appropriate people to get my schedule changed, but I will be back for this season as well. 

It's become a tradition for me to break down the (just announced) USCL Rosters along with providing some general commentary to give those who aren't as familiar with the League an idea of what to expect.  This season is likely to be the most competitive of them all, having expanded to sixteen teams, with the strongest Player List ever.

So without further ado, I introduce the 2010 US Chess League teams.

Eastern Division


Baltimore Kingfishers:

baltimorelarge_new.jpgBest Lineups: 
1st: Erenburg 
2nd: Kaplan 
3rd: R Kaufman 
4th: Balasabrumanian / Selzler / Defibaugh 
 
1st: Erenburg 
2nd: Kaplan 
3rd / 4th:  Two of Zimmer / Balasabrumanian / Selzler / Defibaugh 
 
1st: Erenburg 
2nd: L Kaufman/Enkhbat 
3rd / 4th:  Two of R Kaufman / Zimmer / Balasabrumanian / Selzler / Defibaugh 
 
1st: Erenburg 
2nd: L Kaufman/Enkhbat 
3rd: Foisor 
4th: Defibaugh 
 
1st: Kaplan 
2nd: L Kaufman  
3rd: Enkhbat 
4th: Zimmer / Balasabrumanian / Selzler / Defibaugh 
 
1st: Kaplan/L Kaufman 
2nd: Enkhbat  
3rd: Foisor 
4th: R Kaufman 
 
The very first USCL Champions have not had much success since their incredible run in 2005.  However, they on a positive as after a miserable 2008 season, they regrouped well in 2009 and managed to make it to the playoffs once again.  The excellent play in the last two seasons by their top player, GM Sergey Erenburg, is one definite reason to be optimistic.  However, the Kingfishers have often been very inconsistent on the other boards, a trend which no team can afford given the balanced nature of the league.  Fans will root new recruit IM Sasha Kaplan on to help alleviate that issue, but the Kingfishers will need many of their veterans to step up.  In particular, IM Ray Kaufman, a player who has played far below his real level in the USCL until now, recently has had some fantastic results. The Kingfishers get to use him at a low effective rating, and if he turns his USCL career around this season, Baltimore's top lineup listed above could prove to be extremely powerful. 
 
Boston Blitz:

boston_large.jpgBest Lineups:
1st / 2nd: Two of Christiansen / Sammour-Hasbun / Perelshteyn 
3rd: Shmelov / Esserman 
4th: Xu 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Christiansen / Sammour-Hasbun / Perelshteyn  
3rd: Martirosov 
4th: Rabin 
 
1st: Christiansen / Sammour-Hasbun / Perelshteyn  
2nd: Shmelov / Esserman 
3rd / 4th: Two of Corke / Krasik / Martirosov / Rabin 
 
Boston has, in many aspects, been the top team in the league the past few seasons, always achieving a very good regular season record with two Championship appearances.  Unfortunately, in the stat that most tend to remember years later, number of Championships, their tally still stands at 0.  The Blitz is led by a crowd of veterans, several of whom have been a part of the league from its inception.  However, they have also adopted the strategy of using a fairly low rated player, Grant Xu, to allow them to stack the higher boards as shown in their top lineup - a strategy that's essentially never been used in the USCL to this degree but has caught the eye of several teams this year.  Two of Boston's longtime contributors, SM Denys Shmelov and IM Marc Esserman can both play once again on Board three, where each of them had spectacular performances in at least one season.  The Blitz also have several more balanced lineups (the last listed), and it's really anyone's guess which might appear more often as Boston seems to let the results of each strategy do the talking.  In light of the Blitz's consistent USCL stats, it would be hard to pick against them having another very strong season.
 
Carolina Cobras:

carolina_large.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Schroer 
2nd / 3rd / 4th:  Three of Simpson/Klein/Jones/Agner/Mabe 
 
Carolina pulled off a shocking division winning result in 2008 but variance caught up with them in 2009.  Unfortunately, 2010 seems to show an even tougher road for the Cobras having lost one of their strongest contributors over the past years, FM Oleg Zaikov.  Several of Carolina's players showed the ability to perform far better than their rating might have suggested during their magical 2008 run, but unless several of their players can catch that same fire at the same time, it will be very hard for Carolina to overcome the continued rating deficit that they will face almost every match. 
 
Manhattan Applesauce:

  manhattan_large.jpgBest Lineups: 
1st / 2nd / 3rd: Three of Stripunsky / Vovsha / Schneider / Milman 
4th: Black 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Stripunsky / Vovsha / Schneider / Milman 
3rd: Braylovsky / Zaremba 
4th: Smith / Black 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Vovsha / Schneider / Milman 
3rd: Braylovsky / Zaremba 
4th: Katz / Vicary 
(can't use Vovsha + Braylovsky + Katz here) 

1st: Stripunsky 
2nd: Braylovsky  
3rd: Zaremba 
4th: Katz / Vicary / Smith / Black
 
A team with incredible strength which had a great 2008 season unfortunately didn't manage to make many waves recently, except with their rather unique new team name.  I do hope everyone who sent me a message complimenting me on what a clever joke I played in posting such an unusual name has come to realize that I'm simply not that funny and this name is quite real. 

More pertinently, Manhattan seems to once again have a very powerful roster and like several other teams have built themselves the possibility of a stacked lineup with young James Black on the bottom board. A USCL team has never had three players above 2500 on the top three boards. But this year, many teams including Manhattan will likely accomplish this feat.  Board Four is likely to be the make it or break it board for the Applesauce as unquestionably snaring only one and a half points there out of ten last year was a huge impediment to their team's success.  It will be up to their new recruit Black along with their lower rated veterans from last year to combine to erase that poor stat for 2010, and if they can Manhattan is going to be a very strong team.

New England Nor'easters:

newengland_large.jpgBest Lineups: 
1st: Vigorito 
2nd: Van de Mortel 
3rd: Hungaski 
4th: Theil
 
1st: Shankland 
2nd: Vigorito / Van de Mortel  
3rd: Chase / Cherniack 
4th: Theil 
 
1st: Shankland / Vigorito / Van de Mortel 
2nd: Hungaski 
3rd: Riordan / Bourniaval / Chase / Cherniack 
4th: Theil
 
1st: Shankland / Vigorito / Van de Mortel 
2nd: Hungaski / Riordan / Bournival 
3rd: Chase  
4th: Cherniack 
 
1st: Shankland / Vigorito / Van de Mortel / Hungaski 
2nd: Riordan 
3rd: Bournival 
4th: Cherniack 
 
1st / 2nd:  Two of Vigorito / Van de Mortel / Hungaski  
3rd: Riordan / Bournival / Chase 
4th: Cherniack 
(can't use Vigorito + Van de Mortel + Riordan here) 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Vigorito / Van de Mortel / Hungaski / Riordan 
3rd: Bournival 
4th: Chase
(can't use Vigorito + Van de Mortel here)
 
There was much debate between seasons about what the most appropriate name for the expansion team New England would be.  While they eventually settled on Nor'easters, looking at this year's roster, it seems like the name Transplants might have been appropriate. 

New England has reached from several different locations to form their first USCL roster.  IM Sam Shankland,former San Francisco Mechanic leads the team, while two former Boston Blitz players, IM David Vigorito and FM Charles Riordan manage the team. Former Chicago Blaze player, IM Jan van de Mortel, also joins the team.   

While they are only one of three teams without a GM, they have a ton of flexibility all around with four IMs and several players not far behind.  It's very tough to say what the Nor'easters best lineup is as they are one of the few teams who haven't recruited an underrated youngster, but with Hungaski having made steady gains over the past year, it's probable that lineups utilizing him are strong. 
 
New Jersey Knockouts:

nj_large.jpgBest Lineups: 
1st: Benjamin 
2nd: Gulko 
3rd: Kapengut / V Shen  
4th: Matlin 
 
1st: Benjamin 
2nd: Gulko 
3rd: Markzon  
4th: A Shen / Finn / Matlin 
 
1st: Benjamin / Gulko 
2nd: Ippolito 
3rd: Molner  
4th: Matlin 
 
1st: Benjamin / Gulko 
2nd: Ippolito / Molner 
3rd: Kapengut / V Shen 
4th: A Shen / Finn / Matlin 
(can't use Ippolito + Kapengut + A Shen here) 
 
1st: Benjamin / Gulko 
2nd: Kapengut 
3rd: V Shen 
4th: Markzon 

1st: Ippolito 
2nd: Molner 
3rd: V Shen 
4th: Markzon 
 
The team which completely dominated the League during the 2009 regular season, nearly achieving the best record in League history returns with a nearly identical roster for 2010.  As often happens though when a team does this some of their staple lineups which served them so well in the previous year no longer work.  This does apply to the Knockouts also as their playoff lineup from last season, Benjamin + Ippolito + Molner + Finn is no longer legal as their other planned playoff lineup of Benjamin + Gulko + V Shen + Finn.  While their team will have to use lineups which might, in direct comparison, seem weaker than last year, the marked improvement of many of their players may compensate.  In particular, new IM Mackenize Molner has main a sizable rating gain in the past year en-route to making two GM norms while FM Victor Shen showed a very impressive performance in winning the World Open U2400 section.  Those two, together with the Knockouts' star, GM Boris Gulko, who holds an incredible eight win and zero loss record should provide New Jersey with some much needed juice in the middle boards.  Combined with other solid rating gains by their young players, one might even venture that the New Jersey team is even stronger than last year. 
 
New York Knights:

nylogobig.jpgBest Lineups:
1st / 2nd: Two of Kacheishvili / Lenderman / Charbonneau 
3rd: Fedorowicz / Krush 
4th: Katz 
 
1st: Kacheishvili / Lenderman / Charbonneau 
2nd: Fedorowicz 
3rd: Krush 
4th: Williams / Katz 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Kacheishvili / Lenderman / Charbonneau / Fedorowicz / Krush 
3rd: Getz / Herman 
4th: Ostrovskiy 
 
The defending champions did not rest on their laurels during the offseason, recruiting 2008 MVP GM Alex Lenderman, easily one of the most impressive players in league history. The Knights will attempt to match the Dallas Destiny's 2007-2008 back to back Championship wins.  New York, like a couple of others, is also looking to cross the previous untouched barrier of using lineups with three players over 2500 (even three GMs). 

The top heavy strategy will be tested this year by many teams, and we should be treated to some incredible collisions between two teams employing that strategy. Just like others, much of the Knights success may come down to whether their underrated young players, Alexander Katz and Justus Williams, on the bottom board can overcome the rating disadvantage they may often face to make the stacked lineup truly pay off.  The Knights do have the luxury of an alternate lineup which is also incredibly strong, using NM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, whose current rating is close to 2300, on the bottom board. The Knights contrasting lineup styles should keep their opponents guessing.  

Philadelphia Inventors:

phillybig.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Panchanathan 
2nd: Smith 
3rd: Bartell 
4th: Sivakumar 
 
1st: Panchanathan 
2nd: Smith 
3rd: J Shahade / Dehmelt / Costigan 
4th: Wilson / Bengtson / M Shahade  
 
1st: Panchanathan / Smith 
2nd: Bartell 
3rd / 4th: Two of J Shahade / Dehmelt / Costigan / Wilson / Bengtson / M Shahade 

Philadelphia is one of the tighter teams in the East without question - still possessing some very strong lineups which on any given day can take down any team in the league but not having the flexibility or difference in lineup structure that most others possess.  With IM Bryan Smith having had some great results recently and IM Richard Costigan and NM Elvin Wilson having been two of the biggest overachievers in the league since its inception, the Inventors definitely have the tools to make a playoff run.  

Western Division

Arizona Scorpions:

arizona_legs_big.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Barcenilla 
2nd: Altounian 
3rd: Aldama / Rensch 
4th: Mateer  
 
1st: Barcenilla 
2nd: Altounian 
3rd: Harper / Adamson 
4th: Thompson / Gurczak / Mateer  
 
1st: Barcenilla / Altounian 
2nd: Aldama 
3rd: Rensch 
4th: Thompson / Gurczak / Mateer 
 
1st: Barcenilla / Altounian 
2nd: Aldama / Rensch 
3rd: Harper / Adamson 
4th: Adelberg  
 
(can't use Barcellina + Aldama here) 
 
After a tough miss in 2008, 2009 was a very solid year for Arizona having a strong regular season that kept them in contention for the top spots in the West until the very end.  In 2010 though, having lost GM Alejandro Ramirez from their roster, they return to the general lineup structure they used in their inaugural season.  While not as top heavy as last year, they still have some very strong lineups, also with the near ability to put three players above 2500 as a lineup. 

But in general, to combat the slightly weakening of the team at the top, they will need some great production from their bottom two boards.  IM Daniel Rensch and near IM Robby Adamson, both of whom completed their IM norms recently, will likely be called on to perform the majority of the Board Three duties. 

The still improving NM David Adelberg, now being one of the higher rated board fours in the league will have to transition his role from being the balancing factor to their point of real strength. Amanda Mateer, who has made a steady rating gain recently, will also need to match her recent results due to their need to use her in the stacked lineups. 

The Scorpions' disparate team has hindered their ability to use the lineup they would really want every week. Given the more balanced nature of their team this year and the continued strengthening of the League, Arizona fans have to hope that such technicalities will not be impediments this year if they want to make a real run at the Championship.  
 
Chicago Blaze:

chicago_big.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Gurevich 
2nd / 3rd: Two of Felecan / Amanov / Young 
4th: Shankar / Rosen / Tsai / Magness 
 
1st: Gurevich 
2nd: Felecan / Amanov / Young 
3rd: Vinuthna 
4th: Visnuvardhan  
 
1st: Felecan 
2nd: Amanov 
3rd: Young 
4th: Vinuthna / Visnuvardhan

From 2008 to 2009, the Blaze's major alteration was adding NMs Eric Rosen and Trevor Magness for most of Board Four duties.  Strangely, in 2010, these two young players are two of the few veterans for Chicago as this time around, they have massively retooled the top of their lineup instead.  By adding GMs Dmitry Gurevich and Mesgen Amanov, the Blaze are clearly aiming to repair the only place where they have really had a deficient score the past two seasons, Board One.  While they’ve retooled at the top, still having IM Angelo Young, who is still undefeated in twelve game in the league, for Board Three along with Rosen and Magness for Board Four, both of whom have showed some strong results recently, Chicago looks strong at the bottom.  Underrated brothers IM Arjun Visnuvardhan and FM Gauri Shankar can provide strong backup. If the Blaze's GMs can achieve results up top, the Blaze make their first postseason run in 2010.

Dallas Destiny:

dallas_green_large.jpgBest Lineups:
1st / 2nd / 3rd: Three of Ramirez / Ludwig / Wang / Bercys / Milovanovic 
4th: Roberts 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Ramirez / Ludwig / Wang / Bercys / Milovanovic 
3rd: Zorigt 
4th: Lopez 
 
1st: Ramirez
2nd: Milovanovic 
3rd: Kiewra 
4th: Zorigt / Lopez 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Ludwig / Wang / Bercys / Milovanovic 
3rd: Kiewra  
4th: Zorigt / Lopez 
 
(can't use Ludwig + Wang + Zorigt here)  
 
1st: Ludwig / Wang / Bercys  
2nd: Milovanovic 
3rd: Hughes 
4th: Zorigt / Lopez 

After a disappointing 2009 season, the previous two-time Champions have really retooled their lineup for 2010.  The long awaited return of recent US Open Champion, GM Alejandro Ramirez, has to be an optimistic sign as is probably the joining of the UTD Chess Coach, IM Rade Milovanovic.  Dallas, like several others, has also given themselves the ability to use a stacked lineup, using Gerald Roberts on four.  However, unlike most others who have employed this, their low rated player has been inactive recently rather than having made a big rating gain which is almost certain to put him at a fair rating disadvantage whenever he plays.  Once again, only time will tell how effective that will be, but the Destiny have balanced lineups which they are also sure to employ.  The majority of those lineups place longtime Destiny FM Keaton Kiewra on three so their success may well largely depend on him as well as two other veterans:  two time All Star WFM Bayaraa Zorigt who surprisingly had a tough 2009 season after an incredible 2008 and NM Nelson Lopez. 

For the most part, Dallas is really choosing to show faith in their veterans.  As often happens in the USCL, the battle between veterans and new players will be an interesting one.

Los Angeles Vibe:

la_large.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Khachiyan 
2nd: Matikozyan 
3rd: Abrahamyan / Casella 
4th: Kavutskiy / Gupta
 
1st: Khachiyan 
2nd: Matikozyan 
3rd: Yanayt 
4th: Tanaka / Kavutskiy / Gupta
 
1st: Khachiyan 
2nd: Banawa  
3rd: Kretchetov 
4th: Kavutskiy / Gupta 
 
1st: Khachiyan 
2nd: Banawa / Kretchetov 
3rd: Abrahamyan / Casella 
4th: Yanayt / Tanaka / Kavutskiy / Gupta 
 
1st: Matikozyan 
2nd / 3rd:  Two of Banawa / Kretchetov / Abrahamyan / Casella 
4th: Yanayt / Tanaka / Kavutskiy / Gupta 
 
1st / 2nd: Two of Matikozyan / Banawa / Krechetov 
3rd: Abrahamyan 
4th: Casella
 
The Vibe, an expansion team, enters the USCL with a roster with many different options for the lower boards but not many up top as both GM Melikset Khachiyan and IM Andranik Matokozyan are fairly essential to the team's makeup.  Most teams tend to shy away from a lineup which requires one or two people to play in nearly all the matches for the team to be competitive, due to inflexibility if those players are unavailable certain weeks or if they underperform. 

Aside from the inherent pressure on their two top players, Los Angeles's two bottom players, NM Konstantin Kavutskiy and NM Ankit Gupta, will also likely carry much of the team's weight as it seems probable that the Vibe will often choose the top lineup, using their two highest players.  Kavutskiy and Gupta, along with WFM Tatev Abrahamyan, who is likely to hold down Board Three when such a lineup is used, have all made large rating gains in the past year. Los Angeles fans have every reason to be optimistic.  As with most teams, for Los Angeles it may simply come down to whose underrated guns can perform better.
 
Miami Sharks:

miami_shiny_large.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Becerra 
2nd: Gonzalez 
3rd: Martinez / Lugo 
4th: Rosenthal 
 
1st: Becerra 
2nd: Gonzalez 
3rd: Rodriguez / Galofre 
4th: Santalla / Perez 
 
1st: Becerra / Gonzalez 
2nd: Lugo 
3rd: Rodriguez 
4th: Galofre 
 
After five seasons of placing a tremendous weight on GM Julio Becerra - a player who has shouldered the burden of that weight with incredible results, at long last the Sharks have taken a step to lessening his load.  The addition of GM Renier Gonzalez is likely to be a huge asset to the Sharks, with them not having a severely weakened lineup when Becerra is inevitably away and also giving them some nice options for having two GMs in a lineup, something that was impossible for them in five seasons.  Given how successful the Sharks have managed to be despite their huge reliance on Becerra in past years, it's hard not to be very optimistic about their chances with him finally getting another GM for backup.  In addition with two time All Star, NM Eric Rodriguez, returning, still with a much lower league rating than his current strength along with Miami finally following the league trend of using young talents, in their case NM Robert Perez and Nicholas Rosenthal, Miami really shows a team that has all the remnants of their past success with several other positive things added in.  As usual one can only guess as to how this will change their chances in 2010, but given the strength of many of their lineups, especially their last one, they are a hard team to pick against.
 
San Francisco Mechanics:

sflogobig.jpgBest Lineups:
1st / 2nd: Two of Wolff / Friedel / Kraai  
3rd: Zilberstein / Pruess / Naroditsky / Zierk / Lee 
4th: Byambaa 
 
1st: Wolff / Friedel / Kraai  
2nd / 3rd:  Two of Pruess / Naroditsky / Zierk / Lee  
4th: Liou
 
1st: Wolff / Friedel / Kraai 
2nd: Zilberstein 
3rd: Zierk / Lee 
4th: Liou 
 
1st: Wolff / Friedel / Kraai 
2nd: Naroditsky 
3rd: Zierk 
4th: Lee 
 
1st: Zilberstein 
2nd: Pruess 
3rd: Naroditsky 
4th: Zierk 
 
General Notes: San Francisco took a risky gamble in 2009, choosing to essentially only have one Board Four available for the vast majority of their season.  In their case, the gamble paid off well as US Cadet Champion NM Yian Liou has a fantastic first season en-route to becoming an All Star.  The Mechanics have chosen in a large sense to take that gambit once again as aside from a few quite balanced lineups or using a much lower rated player, Uyanga Byambaa, on the bottom board, Liou is likely to largely have to carry that burden himself.  While his league rating this year doesn't make him nearly as good a catch as 2009, still being quite underrated, with him along with FMs Daniel Naroditsky, Steven Zierk, and Andy Lee, all of whom have made sizable rating gains in the past year, San Francisco will once again have some extremely tough lineups which will likely make them amongst the favorites yet again.  While the Mechanics have made the playoffs in all five of their seasons, having lost in the postseason in four of those despite possessing draw odds each time (three times to Miami), with the restructuring of the League not having moved Miami to the Eastern Division as they had probably hoped it would, it will be interesting to see if the draw odds curse manages to haunt them in season six once again.  
 
Seattle Sluggers:

seattle_large.jpgBest Lineups:
1st: Akobian 
2nd: Serper 
3rd: Mikhailuk / Lee / Milat / Rohonyan / Sinanan 
4th: Wang 
 
1st: Akobian 
2nd: Serper 
3rd: Rohonyan / Sinanan 
4th: Guo 
 
1st: Akobian / Serper 
2nd: Anka 
3rd: Mikhailuk / Lee / Milat / Rohonyan 
4th: Guo / Wang  
 
(can't use Mikhailuk + Guo here)  
 
1st: Akobian / Serper / Anka 
2nd: Mikhailuk / Lee  
3rd: Milat / Rohonyan 
4th: Sinanan  
 
(can't use Mikhailuk + Milat here) 
 
1st: Anka 
2nd: Lee  
3rd: Milat 
4th: Rohonyan 
 
Despite losing Nakamura to St. Louis, having added GMs Varuzhan Akobian and Emil Anka, Seattle will likely be using top heavy lineups even more than in the past.  To aid them in that regard, they have finally found two new young talents to man the lowest board in Alex Guo and Michael Wang.  For several seasons, the Sluggers have utilized FM Michael Lee and NM Joshua Sinanan in that capacity, but as often happens with junior players, both have improved enough to now take on different roles with Lee likely to play as high as Board Two and Sinanan probable to be seen on three.  There is no question how strong Seattle's top lineup really is, but like many other teams who have made such a lineup possible, how often there team will have the ability to utilize it, especially potentially in playoff matches is a fair question.  On sheer strength though, the Sluggers' best lineups seem to be very hard for any team to beat, and it should be especially interesting if one of their such lineups should come up against a similar structure lineup when they face off against their former teammate Nakamura in St. Louis. 

St. Louis Archbishops: 

stlouis_large.jpgBest Lineups: 
1st: Nakamura 
2nd: Shulman 
3rd: B Finegold  
4th: Rich / S Finegold 
 
1st: Nakamura / Shulman / Finegold 
2nd: Brooks 
3rd: Lawton / Eckert 
4th: Voelker 
 
General Notes: The Arch Bishops enter the USCL brandishing easily the most top heavy lineup seen in USCL history, with the ability to use a lineup with three players above 2600.  While I've said several times that one can never really know how effective such a stacking strategy might be until it's seen in practice, I doubt if anyone would bet against St. Louis's top lineup.  While that lineup is probably the most powerful one seen in USCL history, it has been shown time and time again that having a stronger or more powerful lineup certainly does not equate to an auto-win. While it may be hard for any team to match that lineup's strength, there are many teams who on a good day that can split the score.  In addition, it's not clear how often the top roster will be available, especially considering Nakamura's busy tournament schedule including the Olympiad from September 19-October 4. If Saint Louis makes it to the playoffs with their best line-up, they will be very tough to beat.  

I hope I've provided some insight to longtime USCL followers and piqued the interest of new fans.  Season six begins this Monday August 23 at 7:00 PM EST, kicking off with a battle between the two biggest rivals in the USCL, New York and Boston, with the two expansion teams in the West, St. Louis and Los Angeles, also battling later that night.  Be sure to watch live on the Internet Chess Club and check uschessleague.com for updates and results, as this season is nearly certain to be the best one yet!
 
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August - Chess Life Online 2010

RAW World Chess Challenge: Magnus Takes on the World US Senior Wraps: Ivanov Wins, Kaufman Advances to World SeniorBarnett Joins GMs Paragua & Shabalov at the Top of the Atlantic OpenUS Chess League Opens with FireworksAlexander Ivanov Wins 2010 US Senior Ivanov and Kudrin Lead US SeniorFour Lead US Senior OpenDean Sweeps the Dean of Chess Academy FIDE Invitational US Senior Open Kicks Off Americans Abroad: Nakamura Nets Amber Spot US Senior Open Begins MondayUS Olympiad Teams Finalized A Grandmaster Vacation: GM Pascal on SturbridgePerfection in Montreal GM Rogers on NH Chess: Nakamura on a Roll Grand Prix Rule Changes Include 1st Prize Minimum 2010 US Chess League Preview Americans Abroad: From Greece to Canada Schein - Friedman Scholastic Project The Kids are Alright in AmsterdamAmericans in Europe, ContinuedNakamura Saves Draw vs. Van Wely and Scores vs. NielsenNakamura Starts NH Masters with a WinUpdate on Americans in Europe From Trophies to Money: A Chess Mom on the Southern Open USCF Recognizes Leaders at Awards Luncheon Nakamura to Play for World Against Carlsen in G-Star Raw ChallengeGM Ramirez Coasts to Victory at the US Open US Champion Kamsky Wins Mainz Rapids! Ramirez Sole Leader as US Open Nears FinaleTommy He Golden in Brazil Ramirez & Shabalov Lead in IrvinePan-Am Nears Conclusion GM Kaufman on Fischer Random & The Irvine Grind Ramirez Perfect as Merge Approaches Campaign for FIDE President Heats up Middle EastRamirez Still Perfect at the US Open as Six-Day Heats UpToby Boas, GMs Becerra & Paragua Share First at the Southern OpenFavorites Prevail in Denker & TOC; Six-Day US Open Schedule BeginsThe August Check is in the Mail Arnold and Melekhina Off to the World Juniors Learning From Your Losses Leaders Emerge in Irvine