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U.S. Amateur Team East Shatters Its Own Attendance Records Print E-mail
By Al Lawrence   
February 20, 2012
Despite what we hear about the dire economy—or maybe because of it—the U.S. Amateur Team East, an event known to put big fun into chess with a small entry fee and lots of fellowship, set a new attendance record with 294 teams and about 1300 players. 

“It’s the all-time record for the U.S. Team, the biggest tournament in the U.S., and the biggest team tournament in the world,” organizer Steve Doyle told the crowd in the main ballroom before the kick-off round.

Former US Women's Champ IM/WGM Rusudan Goletiani
A favorite ingredient of the USATE’s annual shtick is the Best Team Name and Best Gimmick (normally a team costume or performance) competitions.  This year’s event drew its share of candidates for memorable monikers—among them some football-inspired rimshots: “Tebow’s Bishop Couldn’t Skewer Your Queen” and “Tried the Brady gambit, but Welks dropped the pieces.” Even an end-of-the-world chess pun made the list--“Mayan National Team in Time Pressure.” The Occupy Wall Street Movement inspired a half-dozen names, with “Occupy the Center: 99% Solution” making the final roll of nominees. But in the end, the crowd in the main ballroom decides with hoots and claps. When Doyle read off the list, it was clear the players favored the politically inspired “Team Romney: We Play Both Sides of the Board”. Best gimmick went to the T-shirted uniforms of “Occupy d4.”

DSC_0197_417.JPG“The Hoodies” (see photo), Ian Mark (N.Y.) and Dan Yeager (Penn.,) topped the always-enthusiastic crowd of bughouse-chess competitors on Sunday night.

After two days of play in the main event, five teams are going into Sunday morning’s round five with a perfect four points: “Caro-Cain Defense: 999 Plans to Mate,” “Three and a Half Masters,” “Mayan National Team in Time Pressure,” “Forking with Tebows Knight Never Leads to Mating,” and “Go Ahead, Mate My Day.” And 11 teams with 3.5. join the match-up behind the stanchions for a chance to make history when the tense, final round  begins at 3:30.

On Tuesday, look to CLO for a wrap-up of all the winners and some best games. Meanwhile, I have to run to report to a rare appearance with those roped-off finalists, as fourth board on Hanon Russell's “The Rustlers,” among the teams with 3.5 points. Whatever happens, it’s always fun at the USATE.

Look for reports from all four US Amateur Team events later this week and a US Chess Scoop video from Parsippany.