The Chess Party of the Year: US Amateur Team Preview
February 14, 2012
The most anticipated adult tournament series of the year, the Amateur Team Championships are set for Presidents' Day Weekend in Northbrook, IL (North), Fort Lauderdale, FL (South), Parsippany, NJ (East) and Santa Clara, CA (West.) Get a sneak peak below and if you have a story or game of your own, send it along to CLO editor at jshahade@uschess.org

Al.jpgUS Amateur Team East by Al Lawrence & The US Chess Scoop 
Look for updates at CLO on the U.S. Amateur Team East by Al Lawrence. Al, playing on Hanon Russell’s “Rustlers” at the USATE (also designated the “World Amateur Team Championship”), will be filing updates on Sunday and Monday nights. If you’re playing in Parsippany, please see Al to pass along a favorite game or story. Al is serving as Chess Journalists of America president this year, so he would also appreciate hearing from those who are interested in joining or volunteering to help CJA.
 
Jason Smiles, the "Amateur Who Invaded" last year's World Amateur Team will return to do another US Chess Scoop video. In last year's video, which earned #8 in Best of CLO 2011, Jason talked to players from GM Leonid Yudasin to GM Robert Hess about tips on improvement:


 

US Amateur Team West by Kostya Kavutskiy

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Samuel Sevian
For the first time in recent years, the U.S. Amateur Team West is going to be held in the Bay Area rather than the usual location of Southern California. While this will probably cause the event to miss many strong players from So Cal, the bright side is that many talented juniors of the Northern California will get to participate in this fun and exciting event. For example, the 6th highest rated team, Chess Punks, consists of Cameron Wheeler, Kesav Viswanadha, Vignesh Panchanatham, Allan Beilin, who are all rated over 2050 and probably stand under five feet. They are definitely a team to watch as I'm sure they are collectively underrated by about 200 points! Another young star to watch is NM Samuel Sevian, the youngest master in history, as he leads his team, aptly named "Little Armenia".

I'll be playing on the first board for my team, Metropolitan Chess, which also includes NM Mike Splane, Paulo Santanna, Simon Rubinstein-salzedo, and Udit Iyengar, another one of these Bay Area youngsters with a bright future. I definitely look forward to taking part in this awesome event with absolutely zero money prizes, which means that everyone will be there to enjoy playing chess in a very competitive team atmosphere! I also look forward to covering the tournament for CLO and Chess Life magazine.

US Amateur Team South by Melinda Matthews
For the first time in more than 20 years, the U.S. Amateur Team South will be held in South Florida, a siren’s call that many in our local chess community could not resist.  Consequently, USATS is shaping up to be one of of the largest and most tightly-contested battles in recent memory, with 40 teams scheduled to vie for the Ugly Rook.  Advance entries include the welcome return of GM Renier Gonzalez to local tournament play and five teams with averages over 2100.   

This year, Nicky’s joining forces with fellow players from the Boca Raton Chess Club in a yet-unnamed team averaging 2108.  Leading their team is the strong and solid NM Eric Cooke.  Board Two is the club’s newly-minted National Master, Mel Goss; Nicky’s moving up to Board Three after last year’s turn on Board Four; and rounding out the team is the talented and underrated expert, Lester Machado.

To keep up with the latest news in this anything-can-happen team format, please check the Boca Raton Chess Club page regularly (www.bocachess.com) for details and updates throughout the tournament.

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Awonder Liang, Photo Andi Rosen
US Amateur Team North by Alex Betaneli
The US Amateur North will be held at the same location as last year. The beautiful Crowne Plaza still has a few rooms at the fantastic chess rate of $83 (includes hot buffet breakfast!), so the late comers won’t be disappointed! The North division is unique when it comes to prizes: the winners are given a certificate for the book store and can choose their prizes. Thus, if you own a chess clock, you can opt for great chess books, wooden chess sets or DVDs.
 
Pre-registration list can be found on http://chessweekend.com/usat/pre.html

Traditionally strong teams from IL, IN and WI are looking to determine the best contender for the National title. Of interest, the young world champion Awonder Liang has a team of underrated juniors. Stay tuned to find out if youth can trump the experience!

Look for reports on the US Amateur Team Championships on CLO and send your own contributions to jshahade@uschess.org.