Sunday, January 27, 2008

USATE 2008 Preview

The World Amateur Team & U.S. Team East is set to begin February 16-18 at the Parsippany Hilton (same as last year). You have until February 5th to send in your $140 for your team, otherwise it is $170 at the door. See the complete announcement at NJSCF and USCF for details. All teams must be under 2200 average rating.

three maestrosThe Three Tenors?

Rumor has it that there will be a three-GM team this year featuring GM Izoria (2705), GM Perelshteyn (2615), GM Dzindzichashvili (2586), and an unnamed youngster (max 894). If the rumor is true, that team's composition seems against the spirit of amateurism that the event intends to promote. But I guess Dzindzi was disappointed last year when his team with Perelshteyn kept losing on the two bottom boards (as they did against our Kenilworth B Team). If they don't have a team name yet, I suggest "The Three Tenors."

The Kenilworth A Team will be back in action, with the same players as last year: FM Steve Stoyko (2245), Scott Massey (2217), Ed Allen (2200), myself (2027) and Bob Rose (2052) as alternate, with an average rating of either 2178 or 2172, depending on how they calculate. Both Steve (in 1978 on The Westfield Winners) and Ed (in 1973 on The Independents) have been on winning teams before.

I'm told that last year's winning team Beavis and Butt-vinnik (featured on the cover of Chess Life) will also return, with James Critelli (2386), Evan Turtel (2205), Nick Panico, III (2120), Evan Rabin (2066), and Alan Kantor (2013) as alternate, giving them a very strong team average of 2194. We played a tough match with them last year in Round 5 on Board 1. Maybe we will get a second chance this year? A team has not repeated since the 1970s, when the GSCA four--featuring Ken Regan, John Fedorowicz, and Tyler Cowen--managed to do it. A team called "Mahko Ornst" won twice, but not back to back and not with any of the same players. If Beavis and Butt-vinnik repeat, that will be the second chess record in as many years that Tyler Cowen will have seen tied or surpassed.

No doubt Fedorowicz's team and teams from the University Texas, Dallas will also be in close contention. That is, if "The Three Tenors" don't just blow us all away!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grandmasters and International Masters have no right to play in this event. What is wrong with the organizers for accepting this entry?

Mon Jan 28, 02:35:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with that statement. Grandmasters and International Masters should certainly be eligible to play as it enhances the excitement of the event as it gives other chess players top-level games to watch. As you can see from the winning team from last year, Beavis and Butvinnik won the last round against a team with GM Fedorovicz on Board 1. However, it showed that the weaker boards had to be weak. However, there should be a rule that they used to have, which is the difference between the peoples' ratings on boards 3 and 4 should be less than 1000. This will prevent teams like such.

Mon Jan 28, 03:38:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Chessplayers,

First of all I would like see everyone at the USATE in good health and in good spirit. For an overwhelming majority of players I know, of various rating levels, everyone always states that this is
their favorite tournament to participate in. A large part of this I believe is due to the environment that the organizers are able to create at the physicalities, being the venue and using the resources available, and emotionally, in terms of chess spirit!

Having a variety of creative prizes to go for really makes the tournament fun for various levels of play. However, there are many well rounded teams that try to
put teams together to try to win the event; being amongst the top few finishers overall.

However, I don't feel it is great spirit to have to go against a team that has 3 GMs on it! To have a team that is comprised of 50% or 75% players who have professional titles (GM) really doesn't equate to an "Amateur Team".

Myself and many others attending the event feel that regardless of what the rules or tournament ad
advertise; of being u2200 averaged as a team, the spirit of the event becomes tainted.

Even if the team of 3 GMs is considered to be an "Exhibition Team", where they are unable to win amongst the top finishers, I don't think it is right.

For example, if the teams in the running, in the later rounds, that lose to this team and end up going 5-1, it creates a biased tournament. There might be a team that goes 6-0, that never faced the 3 GM team, yet the team that went 5-1, who lost to the 3 GM team would have had to face this team that is truly not an "Amateur Team". Things of this nature are not good for chess nor the promotion of historic tournament.

I would sincerely hope that the organizers would not allow this
to happen because not only does it take away from the notion of an "Amateur Team", but mainly from the spirit of competition and play that should be positively reinforced year in and out.

Thank You

Mon Jan 28, 03:40:00 PM EST  
Blogger Michael Goeller said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Though I only heard this as a rumor (from two sources), I thought it important to mention for precisely the reasons people raise. After all, a team with three GMs is a cinch to win the event, leaving all those who tried to construct a balanced team out in the cold. What's more, if the three-GM strategy is allowed, it will lead others to take counter-measures, and soon the top tier will be dominated by three-title teams.

I certainly have no objection to GMs playing, and would be as happy to see "The Three Tenors" at the tournament as I was to see Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti in concert. I have only respect for them and for the other GMs and IMs (including Fedorowicz, Nakamura, Yudasin, and even Karpov years ago) who play in the event. They really add a lot to the atmosphere. I just hope the organizers do not allow three-GM teams.

Tue Jan 29, 11:20:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think in the future, it may be a good rule to limit teams to two FIDE titled players, or come up with a similar restriction. That said, this team is hardly guaranteed to finish first; considering that one of the other teams with a very strong board 1 (and sometimes 2) could take a point or more at the top, and that the board 4 is likely to lose most of the time, a perfect score is somewhat in doubt.

However, as several people have said, it does seem against the spirit of the rules, and any 3 GM team is immediately the favorites to win.

Tue Jan 29, 11:29:00 AM EST  
Blogger Michael Goeller said...

Steve Doyle sent the following e-mail message to a correspondent of mine who mentioned this to him:

"Your point is well taken--and over the years these teams come and go. Legally I cannot change it for this year as the advertisement doesn't preclude....I have not seen any entries come thru like this yet... In [past years -- 35 for me--] I have only seen one team like this ever be successful---and several others that failed terribly. We will consider changing again for future years...."

I think that is very reasonable.

Tue Jan 29, 12:37:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The national playoffs won't allow this team to participate in the final four for the nation so I don't understand why the organizers would disrespect their own tournament by allowing such an event to take place.

You would think that the organizers would want a team from the East that would be able to represent them for the national title.

This seems like a publicity stunt by the individuals on the 3 GM team, that will give them attention that they want for their own selfish reasons, such as promotions, students, etc. It is totally agains the spirit of the tournament.

If they want to be on a team so bad why don't they play on the U.S League, or try to qualify for some world olympic team.

Every team that has to play them should just forfeit and let them go 6-0 on forfeits. They can come and go 6-0, not win 1st place, not play any games, and get the ill attention that they deserve for having the audacity to attempt such a stunt.

No matter how you slice it, by letting the 3 GM team participate, the true winners, who might have 5.5 most likely, will have to have an asterik next to their names, because by winning they would have gotten lucky and avoided a pairing of the 3 GM team, who are extremely likely to go 6-0, besides what Doyle states. I would not like to win like this.

Last year my team won the event
6-0, and we had to play 3 extremely tough opponents in Rds. 4-6. We had no GMs on our team, and yet we beat a team with a GM in the final round. On paper some of the teams were probably stronger than us, but we won because we were not that far behind in strength, but we communicated really well.

This is what the Amateur Team should be about.


Tue Jan 29, 10:37:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tue Jan 29, 10:42:00 PM EST  
Blogger Polly said...

Hopefully they'll bring back the 1000 point difference rule. I thought it was a fair rule. It also eliminated stacked teams. However a stacked team is not a guaranteed winner. The last board is a give away board, so if they play a team that has a more balanced line up such as the team that won last year, there's always the possibility that the high expert or low master on board 3 might swipe a point causing the match to be drawn.

The USATE always has some wild games, and interesting upsets. So one never knows what's going to happen.

Tue Jan 29, 10:52:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Three GM Joke said...

Great comments by Nick.

I agree with having their opponents' forfeit each round vs. them. Let them win the event 6-0 on 24 forfeit wins.

Doyle is spitting in all of our faces by allowing this team to play. Maybe he's getting a Monetary $$$ Kickback in addition to these GM's getting paid.

Tue Jan 29, 10:53:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Three GM Joke said...

If they are stacking the team with 3 GM's why not have board 4 be a "ringer"?

There are plenty of "800's" who play on ICC and are actually 2000 strength.

Who's to say that their board 4 won't really be a ringer who is +expert strength?

There's no way of proving that their board 4 is "really" 800 strength.

This team smells bad. Dzindzi is a notorious scammer.

Tue Jan 29, 10:56:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a multi-winner of USATE, I have had amusing team composition experiments over the years. We'll have to go back to the 80s for these.

I had a team with Leonid Bass, Michael Rohde, me, and Julia Sarwer. We did well because Julia scored a key win in a match.

Another time I had a team with Jay Whitehead, Michael Rohde, me, and Triinu Mikiver. I think Triinu may have scored a draw in some match. In this case we won - only because Jay defeated Dzindzi in a key match in the last round.

Jumping ahead to the 90s, I had success with Victor Frias, Ilya Gurevich, me, and a very low rated kid. He scored 1 out of 6 I think. We also won that year.

After the "Frias configuration" I think the "1000 point ringer rule was enacted. People were not happy. Even so, one "blunder" by any one of the 3 top people in any round and this team collapses out of contention. But as you can see, the "Jay Whitehead configuration" was similar as was the "Leonid Bass".

If we have the 3 Tenors, we should have more teams like this and we'll see some great matches, which will usually hinge on the random 4th board!

--Mark Ginsburg

Thu Jan 31, 03:01:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Scourge said...

Look at it this way. The more FIDE players that participate, the better the chances of getting your own FIDE rating.

Thu Jan 31, 03:03:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they would only pay the FIDE rating fees...

Thu Jan 31, 04:38:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark's comment is not justified because statistically how many teams are there with 3 GMs or IMs playing 3 boards? It would be less than .05%, if that. So what great games on board 4 are we going to see?

I just don't see any validity in that statement. Besides even if there was, this is an amateur tournament.

I'm still saying right now that Beavis and Buttvinnik are the favorites to win because they got some players that are getting much better in the youngsters Critelli and Rabin. Panico (2120) is known to be stronger than his actual rating. I did a search on him and he did real well in his last few tourneys. The guy beats masters on on a regular basis. Evan Turtel was a former prodigy himself, before stopping in middle school. Their alternate Alan Kantor use to be over 2200 himself!

Thu Jan 31, 10:08:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just go out there and play the game. My team average is 2194 this year coming up. We're pretty well balanced. I think the "Three Tenors" would certaintly be unethical, but then again there are no rules agaisnst. So, we must just accept it.

Fri Feb 01, 11:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger Polly said...

Hi Mark,

I remember the CCA team we played on together in 1978 with Ken Regan, Bill Goichberg you and me. Goichberg was so sure we had the perfect team to win. You were our "ringer" on board 3 with your published rating of 2100 something when you really were 2300 after winning the National Chess Congress. Despite Goichberg's 6-0 score on board 2 and I recall you and Ken both got and sick and were on the wrong end of some upsets. It also didn't help that I was doing moronic things on board 4 as shown in this game where I walked into mate to avoid perpetutual causing us to draw the match instead of winning.

[Event "US Team"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1978.02.19"
[Round "4"]
[White "Bob Hyde"]
[Black "Polly Peterson"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D78"]
[WhiteElo "1631"]
[BlackElo "1444"]
[PlyCount "75"]

1. g3 Nf6 2. Bg2 c6 3. c4 d5 4. d4 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. O-O dxc4 8. Ne5 Nd5 9. Nxc4 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Nd7 11. Qc2 Rb8 12. Bf4 Ra8 13. Rad1 Nf6 14. e4 Be6 15. Nd2 Qc8 16. Rfe1 Bh3 17. Bh1 c5 18. d5 Rd8 19. Qb3 Nh5 20. Be3 b6 21. Nf3
Nf6 22. Ng5 Bg4 23. Rd2 h6 24. e5 hxg5 25. exf6 Bxf6 26. Qc4 Kg7 27. f4 gxf4 28. Qxf4 Rh8 29. Rf2 Qf5 30. Qc4 Qh5 31. d6 Raf8 32. Bf4 Be6 33. Qd3 exd6 34.Qxd6 Bxc3 35. Be5+ Bxe5 36. Rxe5 Qh6 37. Rxe6 Rd8 38. Rxf7+ 1-0

Mon Feb 04, 01:28:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khodarkovsky's Tycoons will win it!

Mon Feb 04, 04:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger Ilya said...

Looking for a last minute replacement for bd1 for a strong contending team, anyone with 2250+ You can email me

Wed Feb 06, 05:26:00 PM EST  
Blogger John Hillery said...

Apparently we in the West are the only ones still using the 1000-point rule, which is odd since the only place it's ever come up is in the East. I'd be interested to hear from Steve Doyle as to why they dropped it.

Wed Feb 13, 09:06:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, the GMs probably were paid money to participate on the team by the boy's parents- I doubt it's just a publicity stunt. But what is the problem with this phenomenon? It's not the grandmasters' alleged "greed." How do you make your living, more honorably than they do? The grandmasters have spent their whole careers perfecting the art of chess. It's not greed to expect compensation and publicity for a job well-done. Their games are beautiful, an inspiration to all chess players, and these GM's have much more of a right to publicity and money than random patzers who are hoping for a fluke win in the USATE. It's actually pitiable if such strong grandmasters are forced to earn their living by accepting a relatively small sum of money for a good deal of work. By the way, lots of people are paid, at least with conditions, to participate on teams for vanity of the other members.

Sun Feb 17, 12:53:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If people are outraged, simply re-enact the "anti stacked team" rule.

Mon Feb 18, 02:25:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a better solution than either banning multi-GM (or multi-IM) teams, or the former "1000-point difference" rule which strikes me as rather artificial.

Simply apply a minimum rating - 800 or maybe 1000 - to the lowest board or boards, for any team whose top two boards average above a certain number (say, 2400).

The fourth board on the GGGg team at this year's USATE - Steven Fanning, the terminally adorable kid pictured in Vicary's CL Online photo collage from the event - was on the wall chart at 178. You read that right, 178.

As an old-schooler, I fail to see why ratings - or strengths - below 800 or maybe 600 are allowed at all, in any tournament. But in a tournament where eligibility is based on averaging team members' ratings, a 178 rating is simply a fraudulent, free pass. Since there is no practical difference between 178 and 678, 778 or 878, where is the justification for counting GGGg's board four as a full 600 or even 800 points below what it "should" count? All that does is hand an extra, "free" 150 (=600/4) or 200 (=800/4) points to the team rating.

In other words, by finding a kid who happened to have a joke or goof rating of 178, as opposed to some other kid who was equally clueless about how the horsey moves, but who had a normal, honest rating of 1000, the GGGg team showed up on the wall chart with an average rating of only 2017! This made them not only eligible to enter the tournament (if the cute kid on board 4 had been counted as 1000, the ratings would have averaged 2222, making them ineligible) - they're even eligible for a class prize (Under-2100)!

So, I think the best solution is to apply a minimum rating to every player, for purposes of calculating the team rating. Maybe one minimum for scholastic teams with no member above a certain limit (since some low-rated teams might have kids legitimately below 1000 strength), and another minimum (probably 1000) for anyone on a "strong" team - say, whose top two boards averaged above 2400 (or maybe even 2200).

- Jon Jacobs, Rook-N-Roll Forever

Tue Feb 19, 10:36:00 AM EST  

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