2018 USAT North Tournament!

Feb 26, 2018, 12:32 PM |

My team, the Beer Blitzers, participated for our 3rd year in a row at the U.S. Amateur Team North tournament. The event is split into a North, South, East, and West; with the East segment having the most popularity. However, the North is growing every year and I wouldn't be surprised if there were over 100 teams next year!

I present my 5 games from the event here. My record was 2 wins and 3 losses. My chess playing has been on a decline as of late, but I have good excuses: I'm happily married to my wife and also a father to a 1.5yr old son! As an NM once told me, "A new father generally loses 100 rating points!" I started off proving him wrong by gaining points after that quote, but that only happened in one event.
At this point, I'm not all that serious about my rating. I'm more concerned with expanding my opening repertoire and general understanding of the game. The rating will go up from there.

The time control for Rounds 1 and 2 was G/60 with a 5 second delay. For the rest of the event, it was G/90 + 30 sec. increment per move, starting from move 1.

Our first round of the tournament was a little amusing. Two of my opponents are from a chess club I've attended many times -but we all drove an hour north to play against each other! They formed a team with two other individuals who needed a team to be on. My opponent was one of those other two. Although the opening did not go well for him, he fought hard throughout the game and almost earned a draw after I inadvertently relaxed late in the middlegame.

My second round was against a youth, Kevin Ho, whom I've played once before. He was a strong player when I had played him previously and he's improved since!
This game was my first loss at the USAT North since the 5th round of 2015!
I feel like it's important to note that even though this game began as a Sicilian Defense, it really carried the characteristics of a French Defense and it's a key to recognize what the plans are for both sides.


I played round 3 against a very strong player who knew the opening much better than I did! I didn't even know where I went wrong in the game while we were playing. I had to research the opening after the round ended to discover my mistake on move 12!

I want to congratulate my opponent of the 4th round: Ashley scored 4.5 out of 5 with wins over higher rated opponents! That's more impressive when you consider that we play on the first board!
I got my move order wrong in the opening and we had a mutually awkward position as a result. However, I never really had the initiative and it showed.



My final round was a back-and-forth game that has a small story to it: The night before, I played in the Blitz tournament that accompanies the main event. I played this same opponent in the blitz and we each won one game against each other. He won the game where he played White. However, I couldn't recall exactly how the game went so I did not learn much from it, other than that I wasn't dissatisfied with the opening position. Therefore, I allowed a repeat with the premise that I slow down my play in the opening.

I miscalculated (like I've been doing) and lost a pawn fairly early and couldn't find the appropriate compensation by force. I was fortunate to net the pawn back with a tactic that seemed to completely turn the game around. My opponent was visibly unhappy with his position, offered multiple draws (I rejected them all), and started to get into long, deep thinks at the board. Since he was on a mental tilt, I felt that I should not accept any draw if there's life in the position. Eventually, I found an advantage and didn't let go.

The main event was split into two rooms of the hotel. My team had to play in the "overflow" room for the first time in our 3 years (and my 6 years) competing in the event. Since I was on first board - and our team was on the top table of the room, I can say that my game was on the top board of the room! My game was also the last to finish in that room - playing for roughly 3.75 hours!

I enjoyed the weekend and had fun playing at the USAT-North! Until next year!!