Perpetual Summer: Academy Youth Wins US Amateur Team Again

Summer Chess Academy for Talented Youth: Warren Wang, Board 3, Jason Li, board 4, Ethan Li, Board 1, and Wesley Wang, Board 2 Photo Vanessa Sun

Summer Chess Academy for Talented Youth won the US Amateur Team East for the second year in a row, an amazing feat achieved only once prior in the National event’s 46-year history. FM Ethan Li, NM Wesley Wang, NM Warren Wang, and Jason Li went into the tournament not as the top seed team, but as the sixth seed. One member of the team was swapped (Jason Li for Henry Qi), but the others were also on last year’s victorious team. They had a high average team rating of 2197 in a U2200 tournament-among the 306 total entries to the tournament, a whopping fourteen teams were rated above 2190!

Although they each faced tough competition from strong players, a lot of the tournament result came down to the final round. Quite a few teams had 4.5 points going into the sixth round, but no one matched the 5 points Summer Chess Academy for Talented Youth scored. So when “Academy” clinched the team victory midway through round six, the calculators could be put away- no one could catch up to their undefeated 6/6 final score.

The secret to their success? They largely attributed it to teamwork. Although many teams are composed of friends and family, still many are formed due to mutual friends or even almost randomly. With two brothers and a close relationship besides that, there was an extremely strong bond with the players. They found that they were able to rely on each other throughout the tournament.

This was especially true for FM Ethan Li, who had a rough start. Scoring 3.5/6, he ended up placing 508th in the whole tournament. However, he was able to have his team carry him through the first few rounds. It is commendable that he was able to hold GM Yudasin to a draw and beat both FM Hans Niemann and WFM Carissa Yip. Ethan had a hard, uphill battle as Board 1, but came through strong to support his team in the end, despite his losses and draws in the first half of the tournament.

The team readily agreed that NM Wesley Wang was the MVP. Scoring 5.5/6, he had a phenomenal tournament. He has a new post-tournament peak rating of 2286 and his games showed it. In an upcoming issue of Chess Life, Wesley will annotate his last game of the tournament, but for now, see if you can find his winning move here:

Warren Wang only gained his NM title recently, but has been proving himself ever since. As a high school junior, it was difficult to find time to train intensely prior to the tournament. He still performed just as well as his brother, with an amazing 5.5/6.

Jason Li was more of a mystery to some because he was the newcomer to the team. As the youngest player and last board, he made a great debut, scoring 4.5/6 and gained over 40 rating points in the end. He recalls that he wanted to join the team because it was more competitive than the teams he had previously been on. Knowing the pressure was on, Jason even competed through a 100 degree fever.

Photo Vanessa Sun

In addition to the success of the champs were other remarkable performances. GM Eric Hansen was the best Board 1 player with a score of 6/6. His team, “Chessbrahs”, was a rather special one; with his fellow Chessbrah, IM Aman Hambleton on Board 2, Hansen’s team was completed by two longtime fans of the Chessbrah stream, Eric Kurtz (who also livestreams himself playing chess)  and Dan Naylor. Eric and Aman were looking for a fun tournament and knew that USATE was the biggest team tournament, as well as the closest to Toronto. They enjoyed the more relaxed environment, as they did not have to think about FIDE rating points. They could play without pressure and have a good time.


Photo Vanessa Sun

The runners-up, “We Make the Best Team Names: Everybody Loves Them” were also full of energy and camraderie. The squad was led by FM David Brodsky, who had an impressive win over GM Larry Christiansen. As he works his way toward the GM title, this is quite a victory. The team also consisted of Aravind Kumar, Martha Samadashvili and Dexin Li.

Photo Vanessa Sun

The runner-up team at USATE: Brodsky, Li, Samadashvili and Kumar, Photo courtesy Dexin Li Photo Vanessa Sun

Here is FM Brodsky’s game against GM Larry Christiansen:

David Brodsky Photo Vanessa Sun

Martha Samadashvili, also of “We Have the Best Team Names: Everybody Loves Them”, Photo Vanessa Sun

Another young wizard, FM Hans Niemann also submitted a game he enjoyed.

Ethan Li vs. Hans Niemann, pictured here with opposite colored hoodies. Photo Vanessa Sun

His team won the “best gimmick” or costume of the tournament. Called “H.A.N.G. Loose”, Hans’ team name was an acronym for all the players of his team: FM Hans Niemann, NM Akira Nakada, Nate Shuman, and Gus Huston.

Photo Vanessa Sun

Carnegie Mellon’s top team beat out the domination of powerhouse Ivies and other top schools for the Top College title. WFM Carissa Yip’s Team “Yip Yip Hooray!” won the Mixed Doubles prize.

Carissa Yip playing GM John Fedorowicz Photo Vanessa Sun

The best team name was hotly contested and ended in a two way tie between “Grab Em by the Polugaevsky” and “Pillsbury En Croissant.” You can see the full list of winners below.

No matter who won prizes, the tournament remains a highlight of the year. The President’s Day weekend is remembered by many as a time where you can meet up with old friends and run into people you haven’t seen in years. As IM Jay Bonin put it, “US Amateur Team East is like a vacation. It’s sort of like a homecoming.”

Vanessa Sun will also be writing an article on the US Amateur Team East for Chess Life Magazine. Follow Vanessa on twitter where she posted additional photos during the Amateur Team for US Chess.

Photo Vanessa Sun

US Amateur Team East Awards List

Top 5
1st Place Summer Chess Academy for Talented Youth
2nd Place We Make Best Team Names: Everybody Loves Them
3rd Place #BlackKnightsMatter
4th Place Cornell A
5th Place Better Call Tal

Top Rating Prizes
U2100 Zugzgang
U2000 It’s Clip
U1900 CKQ Fantastic Four
U1800 Singh is King
U1700 King Hunters
U1600 Algonquin Room Massacre
U1500 Northern Virginia Knitting
U1400 Cornell D
U1300 CBA 2
U1200 Gill St. Bernards
U1000 Knight Trappers

Category Prizes
College Carnegie Mellon 1
High School Fisching For Pieces
Middle School Musake
Elementary School Trumpowski Attack – Make America Mate Again
Elementary School 2 SABSMS – 1
Scholastic 1 Carnivorous Cardinals
Scholastic 2 H. A. N. G. Loose
Mixed Doubles Yip Yip Hurray
Seniors Pillsbury Takes En Croissant
Military Make Board 4 Great Again
Company Success Academy Coaches
Future 64 Squares JV
Parent/ Child Team Sprechman
Family Burton Chessboards
Military College US Naval Academy 1

CT Kramnik TO Pay For Berlin Wall
DE Stalemates are Alternative Cks
MD Sons of Bishops
MA On Topolov Yo’ Mamedyarov
NJ Better Call Tal
NY Summer Academy for Talented Youth
PA Our Stonewall is YUGE
VA Virginia Assassins

Upset Prizes
Rd 1 Chess Pops: Angelina Wong – 1005
Rd 2 LVCA Rooks: Gerard Behe – 1029
Rd 3 The Machetes: Jia Wei Tang – 809
Rd 4 Algonquin Room Massacre: Jeffrey Craley – 900
Rd 5 LVCA Rooks: Anish K. Pallod – 911
Rd 6 Tribe Called Chess 3: Skanda Rao – 670

Best Name

Grab em by the Polguevsky
Pillsburry En Croissant
Best Gimmick Junior Cat – Hang Loose
Eye of the Hippo – Eye of the Tiger Rendition

Top Board Scores

Board 1 1 Hansen, Eric, CHESSBRAHS 2659 6.0
2 Paragua, Mark C, Killer Pawns 2602 6.0
3 Narasimhan, Narkee, We’ll Torre You Apart 1939 6.0
4 Shibut, Macon A, 7TH RANK ABSOLUTE 2269 6.0
2 Barbosa, Oliver, Killer Pawns 2602 6.0
3 Kumar, Aravind, WE MAKE BEST TEAM NAMES-EVER 2351 6.0
4 King, Robert, ON TOPALOV YO’ MAMEDYAROV 2172 6.0
Board 3 1 Tian, Eddy, #BLACKKNIGHTSMATTER 2096 6.0
2 Chin, Jonathan, CKQ FANTASTIC FOUR 1933 6.0
3 Young, Ryan, US CHESS TRUST 2194 6.0
4 Johnson, Eric C, We’ll Build the Stonewall, 2104 6.0
Board 4 1 Fiske, Douglas E, KRAMNIK TO PAY FOR BERLIN 2076 6.0
Alternate 1 Izmaylov, Max, LI CHESS MATES 1400 5.0

Individual Opening Results:
King’s Gambit Mana Pandya – Algonquin Room Massacre
Queen’s Gambit Phil Hepler – Golden Age Returns
Ruy Lopez Nikhil Arayath – Three Forks and a Pin
Petroff Scott Aravena – St Joes High School 1
Vienna Game Robert Sulman – Vassar-Chadwick Chessclub


  1. Hi Glenn,

    I believe that the U.S. Amateur Team Tournament East is actually the largest USCF-rated team tournament in the US.

  2. Terrific story and wonderful photos, Vanessa. Thank you.

    USATE is the simply the most fun you can have at a chess tournament. And playing with and for a team is the best motivation and mutual support you can have. My wonderful team of Peter Korning (who came for the third year in a row all the way from Stockholm, Sweden), WIM Beatriz Marinello, and Ryan Young made it a special joy this year.

    –Al Lawrence, captain, “US Chess Trust” (tied for 5th-16th at 5-1)

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