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Yo Doy Clase Wins Record Setting US Amateur Team South Print E-mail
By Melinda Matthews   
February 23, 2012
What chess party of the year would be complete without a party? Unfortunately, none of our US Amateur Team South participants were invited to join the ebullient gathering taking place in our venue on Friday night. Instead, ever the wallflowers, our group was hustled into a smaller room for the opening round to make room for the singing, dancing, drinking, and merriment weaving in and around our proceedings.
The venue itself, the remodeled and surprisingly-hectic Universal Palms hotel in Fort Lauderdale, paid homage to kitschy Las Vegas-style chic with unashamed abandon. Anything nailed down was mirrored, gilded, draped, adorned, or any combination thereof, and the hyper-attentive staff jumped upon any infraction that might detract from the lobby’s glittery appearance.  Such watchfulness did not prevent the players from frolicking between rounds, with many taking advantage of the perfect 80 degree Chamber-of-Commerce weather by cooling off in the pool.

Jon Haskel ran the tournament with his usual efficiency, spearheading the largest USATS tournament in recent memory, with teams from all over Florida and the Virgin Islands descending upon South Florida to compete.  Charles Hatherill, bringing his own touch of Las Vegas to the tournament, served as Jon’s assistant tournament director.

This year’s format changed slightly from previous USATS.  Instead of breaking out into separate scholastic and open sections, all 40 teams were combined into one large section, although the trophy categories remained the same.  As I surveyed the sparkling crystal trophies, lined up in neat and tidy rows, Jon pointed out an unplanned coincidence: 64 trophies were to be awarded, corresponding to the number of squares on a chessboard.

64 Trophies, the Ugly Rook, and a President’s Day refresher

The Winning Team: Yo Doy Clase (left to right) Front: Eric Rodriguez, Mohammed Yousef Rear: Ernesto Alvarez, Bennett Pellows

The competition for the title was fierce, with teams headed by FM Eric Rodriguez and GM Renier Gonzalez picked as early favorites.  In the end, Eric’s team, Yo Doy Clase, took clear first, ending with 4.5 points.  The team's Board Two and Board Three, Ernesto Alverez and Bennet Pellows, respectively, each finished with an impressive 5-0 to help propel their team to victory, and each won the Board prize for their efforts.

Here is Eric Rodriguez’s Round two win:


Paul Muro also played a tough game against GM Renier Gonzalez in Round Two, holding strong until the very end.  When asked for a comment on his game, he responded by email: “This was my 1st ever game against such a formidable opponent and the pressure of my victory brought forth a callous blunder of my bishop in the endgame.''


Nicky’s never-named team started out strong, wining their first two rounds with 4-0 sweeps on all boards.  Round three saw the team in trouble when Board Four, Lester Machado, lost his match, followed by Nicky, who couldn’t recover after losing a piece.  Even though the team’s Board One, Eric Cooke, scored an impressive finish by playing GM Renier Gonzalez to a draw, and Mel Goss won his Board Two match, the team lost the round and their shot at the title. Nicky’s team went on to win their fourth round match and draw their final round to end with 3.5 points.  

Eric Cooke, Mel Goss, Nicky Rosenthal, Lester Machado
Eric Cooke’s strong personal showing garnered him the top Board One prize on tiebreaks, winning him the Cronos clock, a much-needed accessory.  As Jon Haskel confided, “I’m really glad he won one of the Chronos clocks because he always comes to the Chess Club without a clock.” 

Eric Heerschap & TD Jon Haskel 
Top Board Four prize went to Eric Heerschap, who also finished with a perfect 5-0 score.

Congratulations also go to Nicky’s friend and tough scholastic competitor, Reinaldo Perez, whose 4.5 finish, including a Round Five draw with Eric Rodriguez, edged his rating over 2200 and earned him the National Master title.

I was happy to meet a few of the newest up-and-coming faces of chess, including Dario Martin, age 7, perhaps the tournament’s youngest participant who’s already sporting a rating over 1200.  He anchored Board Four for his team, Destroyers, finishing with 1.5 points against some tough competition.

Dario Martin

Two other young faces were Jay Wu, a 9-year old with a rating exceeding 1400, and Maggie Helmke, one of the tough young female competitors, playing on Board Three and Board Four, respectively, for their unnamed team.

Jay Wu and Maggie Helmke
USATS is understandably one of Nicky’s favorite tournaments, always an energetic and fun mixture of old and young, seasoned and new, enlivened by the unusual bond of team unity.  The camaraderie that develops between teammates often spans ages and ratings, and, for Nicky, this year was no exception.  Between rounds, Nicky and his teammates would gather under one of the pool’s tiki huts blitzing, talking, and laughing together, regardless of how the previous round ended.  And that’s how it should be, because ultimately, long after the tournament has ended, some of Nicky’s best chess memories will be linked to the connections he’s formed on and off the board.

For a complete list of winners, please check out the Boca Raton Chess Club’s website (www.bocachess.com).

September - Chess Life Online 2012

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