How the West was Won

By John Hartmann |  February 24, 2020  |   News

The 2020 U.S. Amateur Team West Championship concluded in spectacular fashion on Presidents’ Day evening. After a final day of battle between some very strong teams, BCS (Best Chess School) from the Berkeley Chess School won as the Champions of the West. This team will move on to the national semi-final later this year.

This event was held in Burlingame, California, just right outside of San Francisco and organized by the Mechanics’ Institute. A total of 64 teams and 266 players participated in this year’s tournament, and the wealth of young local talent and ageless veterans produced some exciting match-ups. There was a lot of parity at the top, and this created intriguing matches very early on in the tournament. After the first four rounds, the elite rose to the top, and the stage was set to determine which teams had the resilience to persevere through the gauntlet of the team competition. As with any team sport, no one person wins or loses a match, and winning an event like this with the level of talent assembled requires a team to bring out their best when it matters most. In the final round, two teams from Berkeley Chess School in Berkeley, California, faced off for the championship. The BCS (Best Chess School) team came through with a dominant performance, defeating Can We Wu It?, which was led by WIM Rochelle Wu and Derek Wu, with a score of 3-1 game points, earning sole first with 5.5/6. The winning team consisted of IM Gabriel Bick, IM Ladia Jirasek, FM Rayan Taghizadeh, and Ben Lemkin. The match clincher was delivered on board 3 by FM Rayan Taghizadeh (2407) against Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan (2142).

[pgn] [Event "US Amateur Team West Championship"] [Date "2020.02.17"] [Round "6.3"] [White "Saikhanchimeg, Tsogtsaikhan"] [Black "Taghizadeh, Rayan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B42"] [WhiteElo "2042"] [BlackElo "2311"] [PlyCount "110"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Ba7 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. O-O d6 9. Kh1 Nf6 10. f4 b5 11. Qf3 Bd7 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Qxe3 e5 14. Nd5 Rb8 15. Rad1 O-O 16. c3 exf4 17. Qxf4 Nxd5 18. exd5 Ne5 19. Nd4 g6 20. Nf3 f6 21. Nd4 Qe7 22. Qg3 Kh8 23. Nf3 Rbe8 24. Rfe1 Qg7 25. h3 f5 26. Be2 h6 27. a4 g5 28. axb5 axb5 29. Nxe5 Rxe5 30. Bf3 Rfe8 31. Rxe5 Rxe5 32. Rd4 Qe7 33. Kh2 Re3 34. Qf2 Kg7 35. Rd1 g4 36. hxg4 fxg4 37. Qg3 Kh7 38. Rf1 gxf3 39. Rxf3 Rxf3 40. Qxf3 Qe5+ 41. Kg1 Bf5 42. Qh5 Qxd5 43. Qe8 Bg6 44. Qe7+ Bf7 45. Qd7 h5 46. Qe7 Kg6 47. Qd7 Qe5 48. Qh3 Kg5 49. Qd3 Bc4 50. Qh7 Bd5 51. Qd7 Kf4 52. Kh2 Ke3+ 53. Kg1 Qg3 54. Qa7+ Ke2 55. Qe7+ Kd1 0-1 [/pgn]
A very special shout out must be made for our own young team Junior Mechanics’, who won the under 2000 category with a score of 4.5. This team of NM Ruiyang Yan, CM Ethan Boldi, Daniel Lin, and Nicholas Boldi (all Mechanics’ Chess Club players) drew the tournaments overall top seed Elem to GM (2199) in the final round to win the section prize. Congrats to these tough kids! While UC Berkeley Team 2 finished in 4th place overall, there was a huge team upset that is worth noting. Mission San Jose High School (2083) pulled off a ferocious upset of UC Berkeley Team 1 (2190) in the final round, scoring 4-0. The game on the top board set the tone for the rest of the match, with a fine win by NM Ganesh Murugappan (2164) against IM Joshua Sheng (2594).
[pgn] [Event "US Amateur Team West Championship"] [Date "2020.02.17"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Murugappan, Ganesh"] [Black "Sheng, Joshua"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [WhiteElo "2095"] [BlackElo "2474"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 a6 5. Bc4 b5 6. Bb3 Bb7 7. O-O Nd7 8. Ng5 e6 9. f4 c5 10. f5 Bxd4+ 11. Kh1 gxf5 12. exf5 Ngf6 13. fxe6 fxe6 14. Nxe6 Rg8 15. Bd5 Bxc3 16. Bxb7 Qb8 17. Bxa8 Ke7 18. bxc3 Qxa8 19. Qe2 Qe4 20. Nf4 Ne5 21. Qxe4 Nxe4 22. Re1 Nf2+ 23. Kg1 Nfg4 24. h3 Nf6 25. Nd3 1-0 [/pgn]
The beauty of this great event is in the impact it has on the community. While the event itself is a novelty that is enjoyed by many because of the scarcity of team competitions, the format also brings a level of drama and camaraderie not usually seen in a chess event. Emotions fill every table, and results reverberate across the room. Players are not playing for just themselves anymore, as the needs of the team take priority, causing players to fight for the good of the team. It reveals a very human side of competition, and it is exciting to see how competitors of all ages deal with the responsibility and excitement of this type of competition. More importantly, this event brings people together, not just from the local active chess community, but unites family, friends, classmates, siblings, and old friends for a weekend of chess, reminiscing, and good old-fashioned fun. This event is every bit about coming together as much as it is about competition, and it is something that is looked forward to every year. Our goal at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club is to bring people together and unite communities through chess, and this event in particular embodies that spirit. It was an honor for us to organize this great event, as it truly represents what is best in art, sport, sportsmanship, culture, human kindness and togetherness. Everything there is to love about chess and life is reflected in the Amateur Team Championships, and we only hope that the positive impact on players and the community continues on for new generations of players.


Final USATW results: TEAM PRIZES 1st Place: BCS (Best Chess School) - 5.5 2nd Place: BCS Can We Wu It - 5.0 3rd Place: Kolty - 5.0 Top U2000: Junior Mechanics’ - 4.5 Top U1800: Shoreview One - 4.0 Top U1600: 4T Knighters - 3.0 Top U1400: UCLA B - 2.5 Top U1200: Lowell Cardinals - 2.0 INDIVIDUAL PRIZES Top Player Board 1:  Steven Zirek - 5.5| Top Player Board 2:  Kyron Griffith - 6.0 Top Player Board 3:  Saik Tsogtsaikhan - 5.0 Top Player Board 4:  Jaden Fang - 5.5 Top Alternate:  Junior Mejia - 4.0 CATEGORY PRIZES Top Club: XCELL Chess Team 5 - 4.5 Top College: UC Berkeley Team 2 - 5.0 Top Elementary School: Weibel Team 2 - 2.0 Top Family: 4 Brothers - 4.0 Top Female: Bright Chess Queens - 2.0 Top High School: Mission San Jose - 4.5 BEST NAMES 1st place: Not really Reti, but who Keres 2nd place: May the Fork be with You 3rd place: Pink Fluffy Uniform


Abel Talamantez is the Chess Director at the Mechanics’ Institute and Dr. Judit Sztaray is the General Manager of Youth Outreach and Events at the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco.

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