How to Lose a Girl in 3 Days
By Shaun Smith   
February 20, 2010
Yury Lapshun and Fritz Gaspard, boards one and two on How to Lose a Girl in 3 Days
Another US Amateur Team East Tournament is in the books and you can even download a pdf of the crosstable now! As usual, the team of directors and organizers led by Steven Doyle did a magnificent job.  Every year this is one of my favorite tournaments, and I go to work the following day wishing there were two more rounds.  While sad the tournament is over, I am happy knowing that the 2011 USATE is less than a year away. 

My team this year consisted of several colleagues from the company I work for-Chess-in-the-Schools (Bd. 1 - IM Yury Lapshun, Bd. 2 - Fritz Gaspard, Bd. 3 - Jeff Kelleher, Bd. 4 - Shaun Smith).  We did quite well finishing with 4.5/6 points.  We had a chance at winning first place until we lost our last round to top NY Team and overall second place finisher Hunter Chess High School.  However, we did win an award for Best Company Team.

Our team name this year was USATE: How to lose a girl in 3 days!  We had a hard time coming up with a team name this year, but at the last minute I threw this name out and everyone laughed, easily understanding the difficulty of playing chess during Valentine's Day weekend if you have a girlfriend.  In fact, many of my friends do not come to this tournament because they have a girlfriend or a wife.  This is not to say that having a girlfriend/significant other is an automatic deterrent from competing at the US Amateur Team Tournament, as evidenced by the record breaking 271 teams at this year's 40th anniversary event. I was also featured in a US Chess Scoop video talking about this phenomenon. In case you missed it, check it out:

In my team's case, Fritz and myself are in both in relationships, and Yury and Jeff are single.  However, both Fritz and I date women that play chess and both brought them to play in the event.  As such, we did not have anywhere near the dilemma that many other players had.  Many players bring their girlfriends to the tournament only to be ignored because they are playing 12 hours of chess a day, and still others leave their girlfriends at home alone on Valentine's Day - both recipes for disaster.  I hope that nobody lost their girlfriends this past weekend because they played in a chess tournament.  However, if you did, and you do not plan on giving up chess, then either teach your girlfriend how to play chess, or find a girl to date that already plays.
How to Lose a Girl in 3 Days in the final round

The great thing about the USATE is that you get see all of your friends from the chess world, many you haven't seen in years.  Unfortunately, in some cases you can end up playing against them.  Luckily we did not have to face any of our close friends.  However, in round 2, we faced JJNJ (Joshua Colas, Justus Williams, Jehron Bryant, Nigel Bryant), who feature three strong students from our program.  We were lucky to come away with a win in a very tough match that ended in our favor 2.5-1.5. 

Below is a key game of the match, between Jeff Kelleher and Jehron Bryant. 


Our team needed Jeff to win this game in order to secure the match.  Both teams watched as Jeff slowly but surely repositioned his Knight to dominate black's bishop.  Jeff had to be careful of a timely c5 pawn breakthrough by Jehron. 

Jeff was easily the Co-MVP of our team along with Yury Lapshun.  In round 4, Jeff won a complicated endgame against expert Doug Fiske to draw our match with Connecticut's best team: New Britain Prodigies.  Yury won his first five games without any trouble, until running into the talented Michael Thaler in the last round.

Here are a couple of games from our team for your enjoyment.





See Jennifer Shahade's full USATE report, Fun & Names at the US Amateur Team East. Download a pdf (102 pages) with the full crosstables and board lineups at