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Collegiate Chess League Season 4 Round 5

Collegiate Chess League Season 4 Round 5

JoeBruin
| 4 | Chess Event Coverage

After five rounds of the regular season, most teams know where they stand in the race to make the playoffs. With only two rounds remaining, many teams are facing must-win situations going into round six, and the teams at the top are fighting to clinch their spot in the quarterfinals. Mizzou and SLU are two such teams, and their performances this week show they are ready to take on anyone going into the playoffs. 

This is the recap for round five and a preview of round six to come this weekend, with matches starting at 7 a.m. PT/16:00 on Saturday, March 26.

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

Division 1 Highlights

After losing to Yale in round four, Saint Louis University has added some reinforcements to their roster in preparation for the playoffs. One of those players is GM Robby Kevlishvili. He made his league debut in round five going 4/4 against the University of Virginia team. Here is his game against Virginia's top board FM Jason Morefield. Can you find the winning tactic Kevlishvili played in this position?

Kevlishvili found the beautiful shot Qxf6+ sacrificing the queen temporarily. If the king took, he would have a knight discovery winning the queen back. Kevlishvili's perfect 4/4 performance helped bring SLU back on track winning the match 14-2. With strong additions to their team, no one is looking forward to playing this star filled team in the post season. 

Another lopsided match in division one was Mizzou vs. University of Waterloo. GM Mikhail Antipov found a nice finish to their game against Yuanchen Zhang in this position. Would you retreat the knight here?

The grandmaster took advantage of h3 by playing Nd4 hitting the queen as well as the f3-knight defending the h2 mating square. If White had tried for Qd3 to save the bishop, Black would have played Nxf3 with check and the game would be shortly over after Qh2+. Antipov had a perfect 4-0 score to help their team win the match 12-3. Their team's record improves to 5-0 putting them in the sole lead of their group, and they intend to stay undefeated throughout the regular season and playoffs to win back the championship they earned back in season two. 

Yale played against a strong Bucharest team, and they split the match 8-8. Last year Yale beat Bucharest 9-7, and Bucharest was a half-point away from getting their revenge this season. Yale's top board GM Nicolas Checa only managed two points, and their board four Maxim Yaskolko led the team with 3.5/4. Here's a nice game from Bucharest's board two IM David Gavrilescu taking on the grandmaster from Yale. 

Gavrilescu in this position dove in with the knight on b5 trying to open up the position to attack Checa's king. The piece sacrificed worked as the open a-file allowed Gavrilescu's rook to give check and win the queen after the very nice Ba5 pin. Yale's top boards are going to have to convert their games if they are to stand a chance against some of the tougher teams in the playoffs. 

Princeton managed to get their first win of the season against UCLA. They were even playing without their board four who didn't show up. Their top board GM Andrew Tang was able to clutch the match going 4/4. Here is his game against UCLA's top board NM Daniel Yedidia

Yedidia made the first mistake by taking on a6 in this position, and Tang had the simple follow-up Qb7 threatening both checkmate on g2 and the knight on a6. After winning the piece, Yedidia put up quite the fight and even managed to fork Andrew's queen and rook. Yedidia now had a rook against knight and bishop, but Tang's speed and pressure eventually broke through Yedidia's defenses. His perfect 4/4 performance was instrumental in their 9.5-6.5 victory despite missing their fourth board. With their first win now under their belt, Princeton will look to finish the season strong and find a way to make the playoffs. 

The California rivals UC Berkeley and UC San Diego had a close match-up with Berkeley taking the edge in the final round winning 9-7. Berkeley's captain IM Josiah Stearman had this nice game against UCSD's board two Chanin Tangtartharakul. Do you see the tactic Stearman played here?

In this position, Stearman found the interference tactic Nd6+ which blocks the rooks and wins an exchange. The game ended shortly after with a nice mating sequence, and Stearman ended up winning all four games in a strong performance to help his team win the match by two points. 

UChicago made swift work of the struggling Northwestern team winning 11.5-2.5. GM Awonder Liang led the charge with a sweep of the Northwestern team. Here is a nice game of his from the match against the Northwestern board three NM Spencer Lehmann

Liang doubled up on the seventh rank with an unstoppable attack on b7. Black desperately tried making space for their bishop stuck in the corner but was a move too late as Liang could now take on b7 and win the game. Black resigned since there's simply no move. Taking with the rook would allow his opponent's queen to take on h8 with mate to follow, and taking with the queen would allow the bishop to take the queen followed by the queen taking on h8 again. UChicago's win keeps their streak alive, and they are still undefeated so far this season alongside UTRGV. 

Lastly, Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan had a very close match. Michigan's top board IM Ben Li had this sweet finish in his game against NM Vedic Panda. Black developed their knight forking the queen and rook in an attempt to trade down, but this was a big blunder. Can you see the move Li played to finish the game?

Li sacrificed the queen in a smothered mate fashion on g8, and after the only response Rxg8, there was Rxg8# thanks to the coordination of the bishop. Although Ben won 3/4, the two teams drew the match 8-8 which gave Georgia Tech their first points of the season. 

Game of the Week

The game of the week comes from SLU's GM Robby Kevlishvili against University of Virginia's board two NM Owen McCoy. This game features a lovely king walk leading to an eventual checkmate. 

McCoy had just grabbed a pawn with his bishop, and Kevlishvili went for the tricky Nd4 to interfere with White's queen from defending the bishop. White took the knight allowing for the first of many checks against the king. Kevlishvili took the bishop and began a series of checks forcing McCoy's king up the board until it eventually landed in a mating net all the way on h7. 

Clip of the Week

This week's clip comes from a Division 13 matchup between UCLA E and Baylor C. 

Live broadcast of the Collegiate Chess League is available at twitch.tv/collegiatechessleague; commentary provided by UCLA's Chess Club President Richard Mirzoian, Baylor's Chess Club President Mark Mettler, and League Commissioner Joe Lee.

Upcoming Matches

Round six is set for this weekend starting at 7 a.m. PT/16:00 CET on Saturday, March 26. Some of the toughest matches of the season have been scheduled for the end of the season, so you won't want to miss some of these key matchups. 

The biggest match to keep an eye out for is Mizzou vs. Yale as they fight for first place in their group. Both of these teams have yet to lose a match this season although Yale is coming off their first draw of the season against Bucharest from the last round. A win for Mizzou will clinch a top-two spot along with a ticket straight to the quarterfinals in the playoffs. If they lose, they will need to fight for their spot in the final round against the improved Saint Louis University roster.

Another exciting matchup to look out for is SLU vs. Bucharest. Both of these teams are strong contenders, and this could be a preview of what's to come in the post-season. 

Georgia Tech will look for their first win against Waterloo, and a loss for them here would put them in a must-win situation in the last round for a chance to make the playoffs.

Michigan will play Virginia as they fight for the sixth spot in the standings. A win for Virginia will leapfrog them over Michigan, but a win for Michigan would clinch a playoff spot if Georgia Tech doesn't win their remaining two matches.

In the other division one group, UChicago will look to take down UC Berkeley like they did last season in the division one semifinals. They won by a close score of 9.5-6.5. 

UCLA will take on UC San Diego in the rematch of last season's division two semifinals. UCSD won that match with a solid score of 11.5-4.5.

Princeton will take on UT Austin and look to add on to their first win from last week.

Lastly, UTRGV will face Northwestern. A loss for Northwestern would eliminate them from making the playoffs—a rough situation, considering UTRGV sits at the top of the standings with a perfect 5-0 record. 

Many of these matches will be streamed live 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 after you navigate to Collegiate Chess.

For any league-related questions, please email Commissioner Joe Lee at ccl@chess.com.


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