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US Amateur Team East Features Seven GMs Print E-mail
By Al Lawrence   
February 20, 2011
Westpointlead.jpgTwo teams from China watched as West Point cadets presented the American flag as the 41st annual U.S. Amateur Team East (a.k.a. World Amateur Team Championship) started on schedule today in Parsippany, New Jersey. Then 279 teams (made up of 1,186 players) started their clocks nearly simultaneously for round one. No six-figure prize fund was the call to arms. In fact, there are no cash prizes at stake here. All these players came for the chess and the camaraderie—and for the fun that has become the hallmark of the six-round, three-day event directed by Carol Jarecki and organized by E. Steven Doyle, along with a congregation of dedicated volunteers.

Seven GMs—Art Bisguier, Alex Fishbein, Robert Hess, Sergey Kudrin, Gennady Sagalchik, Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, Leonid Yudasin—and IM/WGM Irina Krush are among the competitors.

But it is “Dean of Chess Academy,” led by IM Dean Ippolito, with GM Panchanathan on board two, that ranks as the pre-tournament number one, with an average team rating of 2199—the maximum permitted for the four-player teams. The competition is fierce, however, with only a point or two separating the top teams—40 teams coming in at 2175 or over. Interestingly, none of the GM-led teams made the top-10 list of highest rated. In fact, this year one had to look 22 teams deep on the cross-table to find a team led by a GM on board one, while Krush’s “we're krushing desole” began as 14th seed.
The first round saw few upsets—there were only three favored teams nicked for draws in the top 46. But the tournament is a mind-bending mini-marathon of chess endurance, and the ultimate winner will be the foursome who yields its losses no more than one round at a time, while teammates score at least the 2.5 points per match that garner the win.

The end of round two saw the top five teams—“Dean of Chess Academy,” “Hunter HS, Vishy Leaks,” “Moody Hedgehog,” and “Team Firejel,”—along with a multitude of other teams—still in the king-hunt with two points.

Stop by CLO tomorrow to find out who’s leading the pack at the end of day two, not to mention who wins the best team name and best costume awards—nearly as hotly contested each year as the over-the-board honors.

See the US Amateur preview here. In addition to Al Lawrence's updates, look for dispatches from the other three events by Andrea Rosen, Kostya Kavutskiy and Melinda J. Matthews. Also keep your eye out for US Chess Scoop coverage of Parsippany next week.