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Orange County's ship comes in Print E-mail
By Jerry Yee   
February 27, 2007
Photo Lola Nunn

The 2007 U.S. Amateur Team West (February 17-19) was held for the second year in a row at the beautiful Doubletree Marina Hotel located at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.The turnout was slightly less this year with 44 teams, which was surprising considering the lovely oceanview. This year's Best Team name award went to "e2 Brute?", however there were 2 other names worthy of mention. They were "Coach Kramnik Said No Bathroom Breaks" and "THE wireless DEEP BLUE tooth TEAM". Both were obvious sarcastic jabs at the ridiculous cheating allegations recently at the highest levels of our great game. Fortunately, this event had no such incidents. Instead, it was filled with friendly but competitive spirit, enthusiasm, and energy!

"Coach Kramnik Said No Bath Room Breaks" Team members Brendyn Estolas, David Karapetyan, Omar Wiseman and Anna Karapetyan.

Michael Taylor, standing, Mike Zalozny, right and Shivkumar Shivaji (left) attempt to solve a composition by David Zimbeck between rounds at the 2007 United States Amateur Team West Chess Tournament. Photos Lola Nunn

In the final round, there were two teams tied for first with 4.5/5, "The Orange County Chess Club"(Alexander Kretchetov, Ilia Serpik, Takashi Iwamoto and Krsihna Kaliannan) and "Hoo's The Next American Idol" (Jouaquin Banawa, Joel Banawa, Takashi Kurosaki, Melinda West and Jonathan Soo Hoo). "Hoo's The Next American Idol" prevailed on boards one and two, but O.C. came back on boards three and four to draw the match. Here are the impressive Banawa brother wins on boards one and two.



This match draw left both teams at 5/6 and allowed other teams, such as "Yung Gunz" and "Knights of Republic" to catch up. The "Yung Gunz" team had the top ranked 12-year-old in the U.S., Ray Robson of Florida, teaming up with California's own sensations, 13-year-old Christian Tanaka and 17-year-old Elliott Liu. "Yung Gunz" had defeated "Knights of the Republic" in round 4, but with a championship on the line, could only draw their final round match against the team with the highest rating at 2199, "James Pawn 007 in Casella Royale", finishing in 4th place overall and taking home the Top Junior Team prize.

"Knights of the Republic", featured a very unique blend of players that included an International Master and three kids. IM Enrico Sevillano and 15-year-old Master John Daniel Bryant (Sevillano's stepson) reside in the Bakersfield area and normally stay at 12-year-old expert Michael Yee's house in Woodland Hills whenever there is a major tournament in Los Angeles. Since IM Sevillano was available this year for the USATW (he normally has played in the USATE the last couple of years), Michael's father, Jerry Yee, decided to have the three play on the same team. Michael is ranked fifth in the U.S. for the age 12 category and wanted another 12 year old, his friend Vincent Huang (ranked 10th in the U.S.) to be the final piece to the puzzle. The name of the team was a small tribute to the popular Star Wars video game and their team motto was "May The Forced Move Be With You.....Always". After playing for almost six hours in round six, young Michael Yee finally got the draw against tough Expert Maximillian Landaw that was needed for his team to win the match.

Armen Ambartsoumian, left, analyzes with Vincent Huang, of the "Knights of the Republic" Photo Lola Nunn

Now the "Knights of the Republic", the "Orange County Chess Club" and "Hoo's Next American Idol" were all tied for first with 5/6. All that remained was for the computer gods to decide this year's champion. This time the force was with "The Orange County Chess Team" who won by the narrowest of tiebreak margins. Here is a crucial round five victory from OC Chess Team board two Ilya Serpik:


"Orange County Chess Team" will participate in a playoff with the other 3 U.S. regional champions on March 24th on the ICC. Read the official press release on the U.S. Amateur Teams for more information.