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Chess Match Breaks Out at Hockey Game Print E-mail
By Colonel David A. Hater, US Army   
February 9, 2015
An unusual occurrence occurred at the United States Military Academy (USMA) on January 24th. Every year USMA has an exchange program with its Canadian counterpart, the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC).  The event aims at preserving the long standing tradition of camaraderie and cultural exchange between RMCC and USMA by providing the Cadets an opportunity to engage in social, athletic and military activities with their counterparts;


This year USMA hosted the weekend of competition with the flagship being the hockey game on Saturday night.  The other events were debate and rowing. The chess clubs also had their match formally recognized as one of the weekend’s events.  USMA was the home team this year and they did not disappoint their fans as they swept the events! In addition to the competition, there were friendly exhibition events such as Battle of the Bands fencing and martial arts.

USMA won the hockey game 8-0.  This is the eighth year in a row USMA has won the hockey game which is significant given the role that hockey plays in Canada. I was sitting in the Canadian section rooting for USMA.  While I am certainly no expert in hockey, I think the Canadians had a right to be upset this year.  Virtually every penalty that was called was against Canada.  Canada was playing short handed for nearly half the minutes in the first two periods.  USMA scored six goals on power plays.  Also, one of the Canadians was ejected.  The high number of penalties and an ejection is unusual when two military schools face off.  They tend to be more disciplined and play “clean” games.  There was far more “rough” hockey being played than I would have expected from two military teams.

On the chess board there were no power plays, penalties, or ejections, but the Canadians were definitely short handed.  Just as their hockey team couldn’t compete short handed, their chess team also had an uphill battle.

The tournament was a 4 round Swiss and the top three scores would be added to determine the team winner.  Because of the small number of players the tournament was run as a Swiss with no team restriction to allow all the USMA cadets to play.  This resulted in many USMA vs USMA pairings.
Cadet Nick Oblak from USMA (the 2014 Armed Forces Open Champion) won the tournament 4-0.  Cadet Wesley Loudon from USMA and Cadet Owen Murphy from RMCC tied for 2nd/3rd at 3-1 with Loudon taking second place on tiebreaks. Each one lost only to Oblak.

Unfortunately for Canada, their other two players only managed points from the bye and the final score was USMA 9 RMCC 5.

Next year’s event will be hosted in Kingston by the Canadians.  In spite of the “spirited” contest on the ice and even though USMA took all the trophy this year, next year will be a new year with two close allys facing off again.  We may be enemies on the ice, over the board, on the water, and in the auditorium, but when all was said and done, all the cadets have mutual respect and go back to being close allys again.