2021 US Amateur Team Events Begin Online This Weekend

In February, we play chess! Not even a global pandemic can stop some of the best and most-sought after amateur events of the year: The U.S. Amateur Team tournaments! Beginning this weekend with the USAT-West hosted by the Mechanics’ Institute, and again through the final three February weekends, the four regional team championships will take place online - for the first time giving your squad the chance to participate in all four events. 

Much of the tradition chess fans have come to enjoy from these special team events will continue, including prizes showcasing the best costumes and team names, and even some upgrades that come with the times – such as a “best streamer” award for non-players. And while we may have lost the handshakes for this year, one thing all four U.S. Amateur Team events have not lost is some of the best event organizers that US Chess has to offer, including award-winning organizers of the year, several more National Tournament Directors, and the powerhouse teams that surround them. 

 

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Mechanics' regular Erika Malykin showing the fun and excitement of the US Amateur Team Championship.

2021 U.S. Amateur Team Championship - West  

Hosted by: The Mechanics’ Institute on Chess.com 

Dates: Saturday, January 30 – Sunday, January 31 

Format: Six round Swiss, three rounds per day. Games/60+10 (Begin with 60 minutes on your clock, with 10-second increments with each move) 

Sections: 1800+ and U1800; four-player teams (no alternates) based on average rating.

Registration and more tournament information here: https://www.milibrary.org/chess/usatw 

The Mechanics Institute hasn’t skipped a beat with high quality events during pandemic and is coming fresh from hosting the successful 2021 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Championship at the beginning of January. Next weekend’s USAT-West event has been organized by US Chess’ 2017 Organizer of the Year Judit Sztaray, and National Tournament Director John McCumiskey as the chief TD. 

The Mechanics’ team has put a heavy focus on fair play regulations, with an extra emphasis on communication for this team event. Webcameras will be employed for both purposes, with all games monitored by an experienced tournament staff, and both Zoom and Discord channels available for teams to see their opponents and hang out. 

Mechanics’ is especially proud of its broadcasting team, which includes three-time US Chess Champion GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead and Mechanics’ Chessroom Director Abel Talamantez, who will be joined by several special guests to cover all the exciting matchups through the weekend on Twitch.  

“Let's show the world that pandemic is no stop for our community and players to gather together virtually,” Talamantez said. “We’ll connect and have fun, and bring fearless competition to find the 2021 US Amateur Team-West Champion.” 

For more information on the USAT-West, click here.  

 

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"SIG Calls" (photo Mike Somers)

2021 U.S. Amateur Team Championship - East  

Hosted by: The New Jersey State Chess Federation on the Internet Chess Club (ICC – chessclub.com) 

Dates: Saturday, February 13 – Sunday, February 14 

Format: Six round Swiss, with three rounds per day. Games/60+d10 (Begin with 60 minutes on your clock, with a 10-second delay to start each move) 

Sections: Open to four-player teams (no alternate) with average rating U2200. 

Registration and more tournament information here: https://njscf.org/usate-2021

Since 1885, when then-New Jersey resident and World Chess Champion William Steinitz began a chess festival on George Washington’s birthday weekend, the tradition continues after 136 years. The World Amateur Team East event is one of the most-popular and largest events on the chess calendar, and one of two big-name national tournaments organized by the New Jersey State Chess Federation each year. 

The World/USAT-East moves to the ICC this year, as an open event that features awards to top teams in rating sections all the way down. Beyond, the organizers have planned an entire cabinet of awards and prizes ready for the top scholastic teams, including collegiate, high school, middle school and elementary; prizes for the best mixed-gender squad, the top all-female team, top all-family member team and the top parent/child team; an award for the top senior team with all players over age 50, and another for the top Future team with all players under age 10. 

The USAT-East has GMs Micheal Rohde and Alex Fishbein lined up for commentary through the weekend, planning the same hysterical event as always and giving out the best pajama prize, the best mask award, and finding the team with the best slipper. Entry fees will be returned to the team with the best chess-related team name, and the team with the best costume or gimmick. 

For more information on the USAT-East, including several how-to explanation videos, click here.

 

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"Unruly Queens" (photo Mike Somers)

2021 U.S. Amateur Team Championship - North  

Hosted by: Chess Weekend on Chess.com 

Dates: Saturday, February 20 – Sunday, February 21 

Format: Six round Swiss, with three rounds per day. Games/60+10 (Begin with 60 minutes on your clock, with 10-second increments with each move) 

Sections: Open to four-player teams (no alternates) based on average rating 

Registration and more tournament information here: https://www.kingregistration.com/event/usatn2021 

The 2018 US Chess Organizer of the Year Glenn Panner joins forces with fellow National Tournament Director Maret Thorpe to co-organize the USAT-North for the fourth year in a row. The USAT-North event has always been a place for longtime chess friends to meet up annually—for some, it’s the only rated event they play each year. It’s also a showcase for strong area high school players, since it closely follows the Illinois State High School Championship, one of the largest team chess events held in the nation, as well as teams from nearby states looking for fresh competition outside their own neighborhood. 

One thing that sets the USAT-North event apart is Panner’s commitment to making sure players who can’t form their own teams get a chance to play. He tells solo entries: “We can guarantee you will play, but can’t guarantee which board you will play, or the ratings of your team.” Panner is a master both at getting everyone on a team and forming teams that function well together -- some of these “Franken-teams” have even won prizes. At the very least, each team player leaves the event with three new chess friends. 

Other than moving to Chess.com, most of Team North’s features remain the same: Best costume/theme and best team name prizes add to the fun, and a range of other prizes gives every team at least one award to shoot for in the tournament’s single section.  

“Some of the previous years’ team names have been way out there and wickedly funny,” Thorpe said, adding that she expects this year’s submissions to be even more creative, given ample brainstorming time for players sheltering in place.  

New this year is a prize for “best streamer” to be awarded to the non-player who does the best coverage of USAT-North. For more event information, click here.

 

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So many likes for "We've Been Promoted"

2021 U.S. Amateur Team Championship - South  

Hosted by: The Texas Chess Association on the Internet Chess Club (ICC) 

Dates: Saturday, February 27 – Sunday, February 28 

Format: Six round Swiss, with three rounds per day. Games/60+10 (Begin with 60 minutes on your clock, with 10-second increments with each move) 

Sections: Open to four-player teams (no alternates) based on average rating 

Registration and more tournament information, here: https://www.kingregistration.com/event/usats2021 

The Texas Chess Association takes the USAT-South to the Internet Chess Club this year, with organizer Franc Guadalupe leading the charge. Guadalupe is an extremely experienced National Tournament Director and International Arbiter, a former US Chess Director of Events and FIDE Zonal President for the USA. He has directed several US Chess Championships and was the deputy chief arbiter for the 2016 World Chess Championship, and for the 2021 USAT-South has surrounded himself with a stable of experienced tournament directors in the back room. 

The winning team of the USAT-South will earn a champion’s plaque and customized commemorative clocks, and the squad will advance to the U.S. Amateur Team national playoff to face the winning squad from each of the other regional events. Gift certificates and medals are in store for several other award categories, including prizes for the top U2000, U1800, U1600, U1300 and U1100 teams; top college and K-12 teams; awards for mixed doubles, senior teams, female teams, top military team, and more. 

For more information on the USAT-South, click here.  

 

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Team US Chess: L to R: Nicky Rosenthal, Alan Kantor, Dan Lucas, John Hartmann

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