US Amateur Teams

by admin on January 13, 2016

It’s been a while since my last tournament, as some of you may have noticed. Let’s put it this way: When I played my last tournament, the baseball season was still going, IM Emory Tate was still alive, and there had been only one Republican presidential debate.

But now I finally have my next tournament picked! I will play at the U.S. Amateur Team West tournament in February, about a month from now. This will be my first time playing in the USATW since 2012, when my team (called “Forfeit by Disconnection”) won the whole thing! That was, of course, before the three-year run of success/reign of terror by NorCal House of Chess, which have not only won the USATW three straight years, but also have won the national playoff in each those years. If we hadn’t beaten them in 2012 (round five, if you go back and look at my earlier post) they probably would have won four years in a row.

I’m not expecting any such miracles this year. For one thing, I’m playing on a team with a lower average rating. I haven’t worked it out precisely but I think we will have an average of around 2140. The best teams typically have average ratings over 2190 (the maximum is 2200). When you think about it, a 2140 team against a 2190 team is giving away 4 x 50 = 200 rating points, which is a pretty serious amount.

The other reason I’m not expecting to win is that Robin Cunningham isn’t on my team. I wrote about Robin recently when he had a smashing victory over GM Glenn Flear at Hastings. Aside from that, Robin is basically the god of team chess. He is the only person I know who has played on three US Amateur Team winners in three different regions: (1987 East, “Walk Your Dog”; 2001 South, “Five Dollar Haircut”; and of course 2012 West, “Forfeit by Disconnection”). He was also board one on my winning team in the short-lived East Bay Chess League in 2006.

Robin is back in North Carolina now, so at least we don’t have to play against him. But you need a pretty potent weapon to beat NorCal House of Chess, and it would be good to have on board one the only guy who’s won as many Amateur Team titles as they have. And a guy who eats GM’s for breakfast!

Anyway, the great thing about the amateur team tournaments is that you don’t have to stress out about anything. Win or lose, it’s all good fun.

By the way, I think we have a pretty good name this time. Naming the teams is also part of the fun, with outrageous puns and allusions to current events being the norm. I won’t reveal our name because we haven’t sent in our entry yet, but I can tell you what our name won’t be. My first suggestion was “The Star Wars Gambit: R2d2 Bb8!” My teammates said, “Huh?” Well, the point was supposed to be that the new Star Wars movie has a new robot character named BB-8. I think that it’s quite remarkable that of the three named androids/robots in Star Wars (C3PO, R2D2, and BB-8), two of them have names that are actually legal chess moves. However, aside from that the team name that I suggested is pretty meaningless.

Can anyone think of a game where the moves R2d2 and Bb8 were both played? Or even Rd2 and Bb8?

Okay, that’s all the chess news I have for today. But on a non-chess note, I’d like to mention that a math puzzle of mine was discussed in the New York Times Numberplay blog for January 4. The simplest version of the puzzle is this: If somebody tells you that his age in a certain year will be the square root of that year, what year is he talking about, when was he born, and how old will he be? (Only whole-number ages and years allowed.) To find out the answer to this and other questions, and to find out why 2184 will be the best year ever, click on the link above.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Aigner January 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Unfortunately, the chess notation R2d2 is, technically speaking, impossible under normal conventions. If the rook moves horizontally to d2, then the notation should include a letter denoting which rook, e.g. Rcd2. If the rook moves vertically to d2, then you would write R3d2. Alas, R2d2 means the rook moved vertically, starting somewhere on the 2nd rank and ending up on d2. This constitutes a disruption of the force.

Of course, someone might point out that Rcd2 could easily be written as R2d2. This is, however, not the standard notating convention.

I search my MegaBase for positions with white rooks on d1 and d2, and a bishop on b8. I limited the results to games with one player rated 2500. The program conveniently highlights the first time such a position arises, I could easily scroll through the list (of ~100 games) to find a suitable example.

Move 29 of the following game is R2D2 BB8. (I took the liberty to rename Rcd2 as the equivalent R2d2.)

[Event “?”]
[Date “2009.05.18”]
[White “Nguyen Anh Dung”]
[Black “Sadorra, Julio”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteElo “2518”]
[BlackElo “2451”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. e3 d5 5. Nc3 a6 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Be2 Nc6 8. O-O
Bd6 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. b3 O-O 11. Bb2 Ba7 12. Rc1 Re8 13. Qc2 Bg4 14. Rfd1 h6 15.
h3 Be6 16. Bf1 Qe7 17. Ne2 Rac8 18. Qb1 Ne4 19. Ned4 Bd7 20. Rc2 Rcd8 21. Qa1
f6 22. Nxc6 bxc6 23. Bxa6 g5 24. Bb7 Qd6 25. Rdc1 c5 26. Rd1 Be6 27. Nd2 f5 28.
Nxe4 fxe4 29. Rcd2 Bb8 30. Bxd5 Qh2+ 31. Kf1 Bxd5 32. Rxd5 Rxd5 33. Rxd5 Qh1+
34. Ke2 Qxg2 35. Bh8 Qf3+ 36. Ke1 Qf7 37. Qf6 Qxf6 38. Bxf6 Kf7 39. Bc3 Rc8 40.
Rd7+ Kg6 41. a4 Rf8 42. a5 Bh2 43. a6 Bg1 44. Rd2 Ra8 45. Rd6+ 1-0


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