Miami Sharks Win First USCL Title

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 11/21/13, 12:06 PM.

The most accomplished player in the history of the United States Chess League (USCL) finally has his crown. GM Julio Becerra once again led his team to the championship match, but for the first time, the Miami Sharks emerged victorious.

They beat the two-time champion New York Knights 3.5-0.5. The Sharks had previously lost three title matches, in 2005, 2009 (to the Knights) and 2010. The winning margin was the biggest title match rout since that 2005 loss. In the first season of the USCL, Baltimore beat Miami 3.5-0.5.

Left to right - Miguel Fonseca, Manager John Salisbury, NM Carlos Gaston Andretta, GM Renier Gonzalez, GM Julio Becerra, FM Eric Rodriguez

Neither team played specific matchups or colors - last night both teams used the exact same lineup as they did in the semifinals.

Becerra, who has far and away the most points of any player in league history, moved up from board two to board one earlier in the year, and he hasn't looked back. In the title match, he won relatively quickly, dispatching GM Tamaz Gelashvili's Dragon in about two hours.

GM Julio Becerra

As Yugoslavs go, it was pretty much par for the course. White tried to mate down the h-file while Black hoped his exchange sac came with more aggression.

There was no panic at the Marshall Chess Club, as GM Pascal Charbonneau pleasantly picked up a stray pawn against GM Renier Gonzalez. Soon after though, White began drifting and within 15 more moves, his pieces stumbled around on the queenside. Gonzalez didn't let up, and Charbonneau (who won on that 2009 team that beat the Sharks in the finals) couldn't find adequate counterplay.

GM Renier Gonzalez

Miami could now taste the title, as they only needed a single draw from the bottom boards to clinch. They weren't in trouble in either, so it was really just a matter of who would "settle" first.

NM Nicolas Checa, his space advantage long since dwindled away, couldn't find a breakthrough against NM Carlos Gaston Andretta.

NM Carlos Gaston Andretta

After 85 moves of gentle prodding, the youngster realized his fate. The draw sealed it.

Not content to draw in a winning position, FM Eric Rodriguez played out his winning position and eventually got the full point, making the final margin 3.5-0.5.
FM Eric Rodriguez
The Knights were seeking their third title in five years - they also won in 2009 and 2011. Miami is the first team with the best regular season record (7.5/10) to win in the finals since New England in 2010.

5629 reads 21 comments
8 votes


  • 3 years ago



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  • 3 years ago


    Very nice write up of this event. I enjoyed this a lot.

  • 3 years ago


    TY Mike

  • 3 years ago


    IM Chandra that makes complete sense. Thank you for the clearifaction. Congrats to you and your team on a great season. 

  • 3 years ago

    FM MikeKlein

    Thanks for the explanation - I was watching the live commentary and had to go pick up Jesse Kraai from the airport for his book tour. I guess I missed the exact timing of the draw offer.

  • 3 years ago

    IM Chandra-NY

    I had to break open things due to the match situation, and almost ended up succeeding if not for my shoddy time management. When Eric offered me a Draw after the match was determined, I wasn't even notifed by the system and had no idea. Perhaps it's just my inexperience with using Then later on I saw that I had inadvertently declined it by moving, and so I immediately offered a draw, although I don't think I was completely lost then at all. Just wanted to clear that up, and Congrats to the Sharks.

  • 3 years ago


    Mike, to be fair after Gaston drew the game that sealed the victory Eric offered a draw. The kid declined and pressed on. Afterwards, he offered a draw when he was completely losing. Just stating the facts but great article. Thank you for your support and insight.

  • 3 years ago


    Congratulations to the outstanding Sharks! Other teams may need to bring a shark cage with them in the future-excellent job gentlemen!

  • 3 years ago


    thanks Mike

  • 3 years ago

    FM MikeKlein

    He wasn't content to draw after the match score had increased to the decisive margin of 2.5-0.5.

  • 3 years ago


    since they won the title.... I wonder... do they get any prize money for it?????

  • 3 years ago


    what do you mean not content to draw??? Rodriguez offered a draw! Chandra refused. Then the game played out and Chandra offered a draw which Rodriguez refused. Rodriguez was very CONTENT to draw.

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    sharks all day babies, becerra and gonzalez played beautifully congarasts sharks!!!!

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    what is berecca's FIDE rating?

  • 3 years ago


    good job berecca!

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