Collegiate Chess League Season 4 Round 1

Collegiate Chess League Season 4 Round 1

| 5 | Chess Event Coverage

The Collegiate Chess League kicked off its fourth season last weekend. This was the first round of seven and the start to what will surely make for another exciting season. Below is a recap of all the week one highlights and a preview of what will come in week two. 

How to watch?
Matches are broadcast live at with commentary by the league's commissioner, Joe Lee, with additional guests throughout the season.

Division 1 Highlights

The season started off with Mizzou vs University of Michigan. Mizzou won the championship back in season two and failed to defend their title after losing to UChicago in the quarterfinals last season. They've returned looking to get back into championship form this season and started the season off with a strong 11-5 win vs. UMichigan. Their top board GM Mikhail Antipov showed up big going 4/4 against Michigan.

Their second board IM Harshit Raja had a nice win over Michigan's top player IM Ben Li. One highlight of the game is Raja's 24...Ne2+ which could not be captured due to back rank issues. Ben didn't fall for it and managed to win two pawns, but Raja had a very centralized king and strong passed pawn of his own. 

Later on in the game, Ben pushed one of his two extra pawns to only one square away from promotion. Raja played the innocent 54...Rb6 seemingly to guard the pawn from promoting. In time pressure, Ben defended the pawn and missed Raja's true intentions of Rb1+, a devastating back rank mate. 

The season 3 defending champions UChicago started off their season vs. Princeton, led by GM Andrew Tang. Chicago was missing their top board GM Awonder Liang, but they still had a dominant 13-3 performance led by their board three FM Kapil Chandran who went 4/4, and their second, GM Praveen Balakrishnan, who went 3.5/4—only drawing against Princeton's top board Tang. In his draw, both players had less than 30 seconds on their clock by move 30, and the game lasted for more than 120 moves before ultimately ending by threefold repetition. 

These last two matches were played by teams that have all played in the League before in division 1, but the top division has a few new teams this year as well, mainly the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley's A team as well as the Saint Louis University's team who is joining for the first time since winning the inaugural season's championship back in 2020. 

SLU didn't seem to skip a beat since going undefeated back in the first season. They took down the University of Waterloo's A team 13-3 in Waterloo's first match ever in the League. Not all of their games went as smoothly as the match score indicated, however, as their board two IM Stavroula Tsolakidou had to give up her queen for a rook to avoid a devastating attack. Her opponent declined the queen to continue the attack. Stavroula was able to capitalize on the mistake and find a checkmate of her own four moves later. The game is perfectly described by her username "SoLuckyThough" which is a play on her last name. 

The UTRGV team took on the UC San Diego A team that recently moved up to division 1 after winning the division 2 championship last season. The top board from Texas GM Kamil Dragun had this nice tactical shot against San Diego's top board NM Richard Yi.

Rather than losing material, Richard opted to sacrifice the queen for two rooks, but his open king and loose pawns allowed for Dragun to find a mate with the queen and a pawn. Dragun went 4/4 to help his team win 10-6. 

Game of the Week

The first game of the week of the season goes to UT Austin's captain FM Dachey Lin for a game played outside of the league's competition. This game came from Titled Tuesday against the last world challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Dachey defended against Nepomniachtchi's exchange sacrifice and later was able to give the exchange back to land a fork on the queen and bishop, winning a piece. 

Clip of the Week

This week's clip comes from Santa Clara University vs. UC Santa Barbara's B team in division 7. 

Live broadcast of the Collegiate Chess League is available at; commentary provided by @JoeBruin.

Upcoming Matches

Round two is set to start this weekend with matches starting at 7 a.m. PT/16:00 CET on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from February 18 through 20.

In division 1 group A, UC San Diego will play another tough Texas school, UT Austin, led by GM Ruifeng Li and FM Dachey Lin. The defending champions UChicago will face UCLA who moved up from division 2 last season. 

In the top division's group B, SLU will take on the University of Michigan, and Georgia Tech will seek revenge on Bucharest, who knocked them out in the playoffs last year 11-5. 

Many of these matches will be streamed live over on Twitch, so be sure to check them out!

The full list of pairings can be found here, and the full division standings are available here.

For any league-related questions, please email Commissioner Joe Lee at


Joe Lee

Destress and play chess!

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