USC Takes Down Amateur Team West
By Kostya Kavutskiy   
February 25, 2011
USC scored a perfect 6-0 to become the 2011 U.S. Amateur Team West Champions! The tournament was held in Woodland Hills, California over President's Day weekend. Led by head coach of the USC chess team and local favorite IM Jack Peters, the rest of the lineup was very balanced and consisted of Danyul Lawrence, Blake Phillips, Nathan Heussenstamm, and alternate Sriram Balasubramanian. The main reason for their success would have to be their consistency, as out of the 24 games they played, they only lost ONE, made a few draws, and scored a trojan-load of wins!

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USC took down the pre-tournament ratings favorite, Hot Tub Timoschenko (David Adelberg, Nick Thompson, John Gurczak, Jim Geary), in the final round, 3-1, to achieve the well deserved victory. Hot Tub Timoschenko, a team that had traveled from Arizona, also started the tournament 5-0, and after losing to USC finished the tournament in clear second place.
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Board 2 of USC, Danyul Lawrence, was the MVP of the team, going 5.5/6, earning top honors on Board 2. Here is Lawrence's convincing last round win over Hot Tub Timoschenko's Nick Thompson:



Team captain IM Jack Peters went 5/6 on Board 1, beating several strong players. Here are 2 nice wins of his in rounds 3 and 4.



A nice checkmate was pointed out by Peters after 18. Ba5 Nf3+ 19. Kf1 Bh3#



Blake Phillips, who played on Board 3 for USC, was known as "the clincher", because he was able to draw all four of his games, which, when teamed with a few wins would clinch the match in USC's favor. Nathan Heussenstamm scored 3 out of 4 by playing boards 3 and 4, and the alternate, Sriram Balasubramanian, went a very "solid" 4/4 in the 4 matches he played on the fourth board.

Finishing in third place was Chess Palace Team (IM Zhanibek Amanov, Edison Ruge, Jeff Phillips, Aldrich Ong, Albert Lu), who had the best tie-breaks out of four teams with 4.5/6.

Prize Winners by Rating and special categories:
U2100 - The Rooks With a View (Sergey Yurenok, Michael Gilbert, Tony Miller, Abhijeet Gijare)
U2000 - Hemet Chess Club (Jeffrey Arnold, Ken Arnold, Bill Arnold, Marcos Montes)
U1800 - Chess Palace Ho Ho (Daniel Ho, Alec Ho, Craig Hilby, Bryan Xiao)
U1600 - How to Train Your Sicilian Dragon (Nathan Porter, Joseph Timmer, Junda Chen, Mayur Gondhalekar, Martin Diekhoff
U1400 - We Can Reassess your Chess (James Holder, Corwin Cheung, Robert Martin, Evan Anthopoulos)
U1200 - I Didn't Start The Firey Chess (Socrates Inonog Jr, Matthew Shuben, Steven Molotnikov, Michael Hainer, Brandon Eng)
Top College - UCLA (Derek Tan, Jared Tan, Joseph Roth, Julian Michael Lin) <--USC was ineligible due to collecting the 1st place prize.
Top Industrial - Northrop Grumman Westwood Pushers (Robert Potts, Philip Chase, Larry Miller, David Anthopoulos, Alvin Fogel)
Top Junior (u/18) - Modern's So Fly Like 1...g6 (Kyron Griffith, Alan Tsoi, Daniel Giordani, Jesse Orlowski)
Senior (over 50) - Whistling Past the Graveyard (Craig Faver, John R Williams, Craig R Anderson, Chris Roberts, Joseph Warhula)

Best Score:
Board 1 - Jeff Arnold (Hemet Chess Club) - 5.5
Board 2 - Danyul Lawrence (USC) - 5.5
Board 3 - Vanessa West (Naka Wins Tatev's Steel) - 5.5
Board 4 - Mher Mikayelyan (Art of War) - 6.0 <--The only perfect score in the tournament!
Alternate - Albert Lu (Chess Palace Team) - 5.0

Best Team Name
To be bitterly honest, this competition for $10 gift certificates was not treated with the same amount of importance as the actual tournament, despite the opinion that it has high importance of everyone everywhere ever. That said, the winners most definitely deserve mention here:

1st Place - 16 Years and We Still Haven't Won U1600
2nd - Place - Let's Mate Those Little Fockers (apparently this one was a lot more vulgar before the team members were notified that a certain Ben Stiller movie made their name pun-friendly, and they were able to change it in time for the vote)

Best Team Names Not Submitted:

Let's Mate Those Black Swan
Let's Mate Those True Grit
Let's Mate Those The Adjustment Bureau
Let's Mate Those Ratatouille (really late for this one, but alright)

My Team

Metropolitan Chess (Ankit Gupta, Kostya Kavutskiy, Allan Karman, Udit Iyengar), finished well below our expectations, mainly because we expected to win the whole darn thing! That said, we scored a respectable 4/6  and were able to start and end the tournament with a 4-0 sweep!

NM Ankit Gupta, who scored a fantastic 5/6 on board 1, played this incredible game in Round 3 against NM Ronald Bruno:



When there were three black knights on the board, and it wasn't obvious which one was recently promoted to, it was absolutely hysterical to watch extremely puzzled spectators (of all strengths) to count, re-count and re-count the number of black knights.

So overall the tournament was a fun experience for just about everyone involved. It was very well organized by Randy Hough and very well directed by TD John McCumiskey:
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There were a total of 54 teams, along with about 40 scholastic teams, meaning there were nearly 400 players playing team chess at the Waner Center Marriot! Apart from a false fire alarm in Round 1, there were absolutely no issues with the venue and in general things ran quite smoothly!

See CLO's reportage on the US Amateur Team North by Andrea Rosen, the US Amateur Team East by Al Lawrence and the US Amateur Team South by Melinda J. Matthews.