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US Chess League Kicks Off Ninth Season Tuesday Print E-mail
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
August 26, 2013
USCLmainlogo.jpgThe transition between Summer and Fall is known for a few things-the weather gets a little cooler, students get ready to go back to school, and the United States Chess League returns for a brand new season! 

One of the main changes for this season is the reconfiguration of teams among the two conferences. Instead of just having the East and the West, both conferences have been divided in half to make two four-team divisions. The top two teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs, making interdivisional play more exciting than ever! With that, I'd like to give a quick rundown of each conference: 

Eastern Conference 
Atlantic Division 
One could argue that this will be the most competitive division, featuring the New York Knights, who've made the playoffs in all eight (!) USCL seasons, and the Philadelphia Inventors, who've placed first in the East for the last two years. Joining New York and Philadelphia are the Manhattan Applesauce and New Jersey Knockouts, who also field strong teams every year. The main roster additions include GM Zviad Izoria and GM Robert Hungaski joining the Manhattan Applesauce, as well as GM Alex Fishbein joining New Jersey.  New York have lost GM Giorgi Kacheishvili and GM Alex Lenderman while GM Sergey Erenburg won't be suiting up for Philadelphia this year.  

Northeast Division 
The Northeast features the Baltimore Kingfishers, Connecticut Dreadnoughts, Boston Blitz, and the New England Nor'easters. The teams appear to be of a similar makeup to last year, with the exception of Connecticut adding GM Michael Rohde and Baltimore adding last year's 3rd place MVP, IM Levan Bregadze. Boston is the only team to lose a major player, as longtime league superstar SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun is not listed on their roster. 

Western Conference 
Pacific Division 
This division includes teams closer to the west coast, featuring the 2012 Champion Seattle Sluggers, San Francisco Mechanics, Los Angeles Vibe, and the Arizona Scorpions. It seems as though the Sluggers have gone through the most roster changes, losing GM Varuzhan Akobian but gaining GM Timur Gareev and GM Emil Anka. The Los Angeles Vibe, (my home team for the past three years) have made a notable addition in FM Luke-Harmon Vellotti, who'll be making his league debut in the next few weeks. 

South Division

This division seems to be the most spread out in terms of physical location, with teams including the Dallas Destiny, Miami Sharks, Carolina Cobras, and the Saint Louis Archbishops. Miami has added GM Yuniesky Quesada to join an already strong team, complementing three-time MVP GM Julio Becerra. The always competitive Dallas team once again has a very young roster of underrated players, but the loss of GM Julio Sadorra will surely be felt. The Carolina Cobras will likely be outrated in most of their matches, so they'll have to rely on their players over-peforming if they're to have a shot at the playoffs this year. 

Lastly, Saint Louis has completely revamped their roster, acquiring GM Varuzhan Akobian, as well as GM Anatoly Bykhovsky and IM Vitaly Neimer of Webster University. Yours truly has also joined the Archbishops, and will once again be providing weekly recaps for Chess Life Online!

The season kicks off this week, with matches and lineups already set for Tuesday, August 27th and Wednesday, August 28th.

For those looking to follow the action, there is some good news for you. The USCL will now be played exclusively on Chess.com, with the live coverage of all the action provided every night by Chess.com's broadcasting team (open to all members, including the free basic membership). For all USCL news, standings, rosters, and more, make sure to visit uschessleague.com, and for the schedule of all the upcoming live coverage, check out chess.com/tv.