February 20, 2013

My experiences in US Amateur Team North

"There is no 'i' in team but there is in win." these legendary words were said by Michael Jordan on working as a team! Through this article I would like to share my experiences in playing the US Amateur Team Championship North which was held in Schaumburg, Illnois from 15-17 Feb 2013. Read more.

My experiences in US Amateur Team North
By Priyadharshan Kannappan

Lindenwood University where I study, sent two teams with 4 players in a team under the team names "Lindenwood" and "Lions" for this prestigious tournament. I was appointed the captain of the "Lions" team which had IM Levan Bregadze on board 2, Zach Stuart on board 3 and Micah Losee on board 4, the team average rating was 2172 which was well under the 2200 USCF rating regulation for this tournament. The other team was captained by Kostya Kavutskiy with WGM Anna Sharevich playing on board 2 and Calvin Parnon playing on board 3 with Josh Cardenas finishing the lineup playing on board 4. This team's rating average was only 1981 because Josh Cardenas didn't have an USCF rating but by real strength I would rate this team to have a strength of around 2080 USCF.

We left the Lindenwood Campus at 10 am on 15th with half sleepy faces in a big van with our assistant coach Matt Barret driving the vehicle to Schaumburg, which is 5 hours journey by road. The whole journey was enjoyable as we were playing many mind games like word builder, 21 questions etc.

The first round was scheduled to start at 7pm on the 15th and we arrived at the playing venue/staying hotel, The Hyatt at 2 pm and was all ready for the game by 7pm.

The Lions were seeded 4th, so we faced a weak team named "Kings and Queens" whom we crushed 4-0 but the biggest upset of the round was the Lindenwood team which faced the top seed "The Gorlok Express" which in other words should be called a super strong team from Webster University compromising of GM Anatoly Bykovsky, GM Denes Boros, IM Vitaly Neimer and Paul Truong. The Lindenwood team crushed the Gorlok Express 3-1, though they were outrated by more than 300 points on every single board. The best game of that match and I believe of the tournament was between Calvin Parnon and Vitaly Neimer, the game is analyzed for you by the winner Calvin Parnon in Youtube. A funny gossip that was going around after this game was there was some computer chip in Calvin's crutches which helped him to play such a flawless game!

The one in orange jacket is Calvin, one in pale green is Zach Stuart, with Levan Bregadze standing on the right of the pairings board and our coach Matt Barrett wearing a black t-shirt and the girl with the bag being Anna Sharevich

The 2nd round on the following day was also filled with surprises as another strong Webster team under the name "Oppan Gorlok Style" lost to a weaker team named "The Rachel's Knights" and the Lindenwood continued their hot winning streak this time scalping the much higher rated X-men by the margin 2.5-1.5, my team the Lions managed to win the team full of tiny tots under the name "We have a dream" by a margin of 2.5-1.5 with me being held to a draw by Zach Kasiurak and Zach Stuart from my team losing his game to a young girl but the winning punch being delivered by Levan and Micah.

Micah Losee(left) and Josh Cardenas(right), board 4 of the Lions and the Lindewood team respectively!

After the end of Rd 2, we were dreaming of becoming the champions as two of the strongest competitors, the teams from Webster in the event have already been eliminated from the title race as they both faced upset losses and there were only very few strong teams left with full points but we received a shocker in Round 3, when we played against the University of Chicago "A" as Micah went down very quickly to his higher rated opponent in board 4 and Zach being in a dubious position right from the start but then had good chances to salvage a draw but failed to capitalize those chances and losing his game. I and Levan won our game with not much trouble but with some pressure as we had to draw as a team at any cost as losing would completely hamper our chances for a stake at the title. The "Lindenwood" team which was in roaring form was once again very close to upsetting the eventual joint winners "TMCC:Mating Specialists" but luck was not in their side as Calvin missed a simple win to settle for a draw and also the team had to settle for a draw as a result of that game.

Lions battling it out against the University of Chicago A in round 3

The final day was out there on the 17th the Sunday, we had a quick breakfast at the Einstein's Bagel, where I tried a very unorthodox bagel sandwich of Chocolate Chip bagel with Spinach,Eggs and Tomato as my teammates looked so weird at me, as I was eating that unorthodox combination!

Kostya and Zach at the breakfast table! in the Einstein's

The Lions faced the team from Michigan under the name of "Attackamania III" we were very confident before the game, that we would be tearing apart our opposition in this game and we came very close to it as I drew my game against National Master Kevin Czuhai and Levan continuing his hot streak winning his 4th game on a trot but Zach suffered his 3rd straight defeat in the tournament and Micah playing out a clearly better position but in the time scramble he completely misplayed it and managed only to get a draw and thusby we made another draw as a team and thusby all our chances for the title being killed by this result. In the meantime the Lindenwood team was defeated by the strong "WI Chess Academy team".

Lions facing the Attackamania III team in Rd 4!

As all our title chances was done, I felt really dejected and demotivated to play my 5th and final round game but as it was very much obligatory I went to the board to face Alex Ding from the University of Illnois, who played for the team "Illini Illusionists" before the game, when I was talking to my teammates, I said guys, I am going to go out and have fun playing 1.a4 but all of them completely were kinda not agreeing about my funny idea, so I had to settle for a less inferior opening than that, I played the 1.e4 c5 2.Na3 and after 5 moves a funny thing happened the former Women World Champion Susan Polgar, the coach of Webster Team, who was looking at the games was really intrigued to see a completely unorthodox position on the board by move 5 in my game!

I managed to outplay my opponent and Levan continued his great run by winning his 5th game too to end with a score 5/5, whereas Micah was outplayed by his opponent in an endgame and Zach's game being complicated all through till the end and finally it ended in a draw and thusby we won the match 2.5-1.5 and managed to finish joint 3rd in the standings.

The Lindenwood team which played a team titled "One Brother and the Other" was down 2-1 with Anna Sharevich also playing in a worse position but which was completely drawn, her opponent refused to give a draw and played out a really long game which lasted 200 moves and more than 6 hours thusby disrupting all our plans of heading back quickly to campus :( Anna got frustrated by his opponent's no draw attitude and blundered in the end also her result was anyways inconsequential to the final results.

In the end the winners of the prestigious US Amateur Team North being shared between "The Illini Schmakelers" and "TMCC:Mating Specialists". Congratulations to both teams for their deserving title win.

Overall, it was a big learning experience for the Lindenwood players as this was our 2nd team championship after the Pan-American Collegiate Championship and more or less every player found some of their weaknesses exposed in this championship, which they have all started working to rectify it!

I would like to end this article, with the weirdo final round game that I played against Alex Ding in this tournament

External Links
Report of this tournament in the US Chess Webpage
Official Tournament Site
Calvin Parnon's win over Vitaly Neimer