CLO strongly recommends reading the rules and prizes below before registering for fantasy chess. Login here if you've already created an account. (Please note that the Fantasy chess login is separate from your uschess.org login, so you will create a new password.)
I know what most of you are probably thinking right now. "Fantasy chess? What kind of nonsense is that?" Well "Why not?" might be the more appropriate question. After all, in all sports when it comes time for the most important events of the year whether it be the Super Bowl, World Series, or the ever popular March Madness, Americans always delve into predicting who the winners might be ahead of time. We at CLO see no reason why the biggest chess event of the year in the US shouldn't be approached with the same anticipation and so we've come up with a competition which will hopefully provide an extra spice of excitement in that regard to those who plan to follow (or even play!) in the Championship. Here is the way it will work.
(1) Any current USCF member is eligible to enter with only one entry per person!. (Please note that you are not eligible for prizes if you are an employee of the USCF, or an immediate family member of an employee.) Each entrant will pick a team of seven players amongst those competing to serve as their "fantasy team"
(2) Just as winning these prediction contests often come down to who can best pick the upsets which occur, the key to winning this one might well be similar. How you ask? Well that's where the rating cap comes in. See it really wouldn't be very interesting if you could just pick the top seven players competing. Therefore the average rating of the players on your team will have to be no more than 2510.00. Hence it could be that recruiting "sleepers" for your team may be the most probable path to victory. Update: If there is a tiebreak match for first place, you will earn 1/2 bonus point if you have the clear winner on your team.
(3) Scoring works as follows: Very simply, the total of the number of points each player on your team scores (out of 9) is your team's score.
(4) Some, when seeing the 2510 rating cap, might be inclined to search out a team with that exact rating. While I make no claims to how effective that strategy might be, if two or more players end up tied with the same team score, the entrant whose team has the lower average rating will be considered to be the winner. Thus, maximizing out the rating cap might not end up being the most effective strategy.
(5) As noted in (4), the first tiebreaker if two entrants have the same team score is whose team has lower rating. There will also be two tiebreaker questions which will allow us to differentiate between entrants with the same score and same team rating (most likely to occur when their two teams are identical).
(6) Be very careful on the registration form to enter your USCF ID # correctly. If the ID # you enter under doesn't match your name (or simply doesn't exist), you will not be eligible to win any of the prizes even if this was just a typo due to an oversight. We must implement this rule to ensure no one attempts to enter the contest more than once.
And aside from the fun of just seeing how adept you might be at picking a winning team and rooting on your favorite players, there is some real incentive to compete in this contest. The prizes are as follows:
1st Place: An 80 GB video IPOD (brand new, approximate $300 value).
2nd Place: 1 hour internet/phone lesson with IM Josh Friedel. I'm sure you all know Josh is the recent winner of the Samford Fellowship and also quite experienced at giving lessons. At the same time, despite how serious he takes chess, he manages to maintain a fairly laid back attitude, always with a flippant remark on the tip of his tongue. I'm sure this lesson would be a nice prize for any player. Just be sure not to call him Meatball at any point during the lesson if you don't want it to end in an ugly way (and I'm speaking from personal experience here).
3rd Place: 1 Year Extension of USCF Membership
4th Place: Autographed copy of the brand new book (release date- May 8, 2007) byIM Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence.
5th Place: Autographed copy of Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sportby WGM Jennifer Shahade
And unlike most similar contests, this one is absolutely FREE to compete in. So any current USCF member reading this be sure to check back here on Thursday for more detailed instructions on how to enter (though now that you know the rules you can already start planning out your team!). Given what you might win, there is simply no reason to not take a few minutes to submit an entry. Also, those of you who were thinking of acquiring or renewing USCF membership in the near future and want to enter the contest, now just might be the time to do that!
I hope everyone enjoys this contest and the US Championship itself. I know I personally am really looking forward to seeing who comes out on top in both!
Arun Sharma is an editor at www.uschessleague.com, where he also writes weekly predictions during the regular season. He is a PHD student in Math at Berkeley and helped to organize the premiere U.S. Championship Fantasy Contest.