The Secret Square: Playing the World Amateur Team

The U.S. Amateur Team East, also known as the World Amateur Team or “Team East,” has been my favorite tournament ever since I was an eight-year-old just starting out with chess. Anyone who has played the Team East knows what a unique and memorable tournament it is.

There is nothing like the experience of funneling into the large playing hall and seeing the roped off section right at the front of the room. The sideshow is underway: teams with hilarious names, costumes, and skits are ready to show off in front of the entire audience. The tournament directors deal with endless questions about how to set clocks, so much so that it has become a running joke among those who organize the tournament. You really have to be there to understand why it’s so special, and so beloved.

The 2020 Team East took place right before the realities of the pandemic took hold. When the organizers decided that the 2021 tournament would be held online, I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I knew there was no way I’d miss it.

I’ve been playing with the same group of friends since I first started playing the tournament nearly 25 years ago. We’ve rotated in and out a bit, but the same core players have turned up for most tournaments, and our long-term goal has always been to win the tournament one day.

 

Our 2021 team consisted of (in board order) myself, Jason Lu, Sean Finn, and Ed Knesevitch. Sean and I have played on the same team nearly our entire chess careers, while Jason and Ed joined up for the first time this year. Jason is a student of mine, and it has been exciting watching him grow into a great player and valuable member of the team. Ed is an experienced player and coach, making him a strong fourth board.

This team was an offshoot of an online league we’ve been playing in called the States Cup. We formed the “Garden State Passers” to represent New Jersey, and the four of us played regularly against teams from other states. We also bonded as a team by playing endless amounts of bughouse on the internet. It has become our favorite pastime during the pandemic.

This is where our team name — “Secret Square” — was developed. No matter how many bughouse games we played, somehow someone was always getting checkmated on f7, which we dubbed the “secret square!” Going into the tournament our average rating was around 2198. We knew we had a strong team, but nothing is ever easy at the Team East when there are so many good players and teams.

The tournament was, by necessity, a stark departure from previous years. There was the obvious difference that we were playing online, but that wasn’t the only change. Traditionally the tournament has a classical time control of two hours with time added after 40 moves. This year the time control changed significantly, to G/60 with a 10 second increment. The shortened time controls allowed the tournament to shrink from three days to two. All in all, we weren’t sure what to make of the changes. Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised and go into a tournament with no expectations. I think it helped us not to put any pressure on ourselves and to go with the flow of the tournament.

Our first-round pairings set us up to play a team that we had a big rating advantage against. As every chess player knows, ratings don’t decide the game and you still need to take care of business. I’ve chosen to show a nice game that Jason Lu played from our first round that helped get us off to a good start. He won the game in convincing fashion, showing good technique from start to finish.

[pgn][Event "World Team East"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2021.02.13"] [Round "1"] [White "Lu, Jason"] [Black "Liao, Connor"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B68"] [WhiteElo "2145"] [BlackElo "1508"] [Annotator "Molner"] [PlyCount "103"] [EventDate "2021.??.??"] [TimeControl "3600+10"] {This game is from the first round of the tournament. It was a good performance from my student NM, Jason Lu. Jason won a smooth game in nice fashion which help set the pace and standard for the tournament.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 Bd7 {Not Black's most common choice.} ({Normal is} 6... e6) 7. Qd2 e6 8. O-O-O a6 9. f4 Be7 10. Nf3 $5 { [#] A strong retreat. Black's cramped position is not easy to handle, and he needs to find a solution to the threat of e4-e5.} Ng4 $2 {A costly mistake. Black most likely feared the e4-e5 pawn push, but trading the dark-squared bishops was too big a price to pay. Better was} (10... b5 $1 {Black has to try to soften up White's center before it completely steamrolls the black position. Plan could continue} 11. Bxf6 ({Worse is} 11. e5 b4 12. exf6 bxc3 13. Qxc3 gxf6 ) 11... gxf6 {with a complex position and a big fight.}) 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 { Now the d6-pawn has softened up significantly. White needs to be careful not to rush in too quickly to capture the pawn.} 12. h3 $1 {Pushing the knight back so that White can capture the pawn on d6.} ({Of course not} 12. Qxd6 $4 Nf2 $2) 12... Nf6 13. g4 $1 {Jason is mindful of his opponent's potential counterplay. If he captures immediately Black may have some play involving ... Nf6-h5.} ({After} 13. Qxd6 Qxd6 14. Rxd6 Nh5 15. Ne2 Nf6 {the White pieces are a little awkward but he still has the advanage after} 16. Ng3 h5) 13... O-O-O { Now ... Bd7-e8 is a threat so White should capture the pawn.} 14. Qxd6 Be8 ({ Black could get clever with} 14... Nd5 15. Qxe7 Ndxe7 {but it doesn't make a big difference.}) 15. Qxe7 Rxd1+ 16. Kxd1 Nxe7 17. Bd3 Bc6 18. Ne5 Rf8 19. Kd2 Nd7 20. Nxc6 Nxc6 21. e5 h6 22. Be4 ({Perhaps more precise is} 22. Ne4 $1 { heading towards the outpost on d6 with good play.}) 22... Rd8 23. Ke3 Nc5 {[#]} ({It looks like} 23... Kc7 {, preventing White from damaging the queenside pawn structure, would be ideal for Black, but it ends up being a bit slow:} 24. Bxc6 Kxc6 25. Rd1 {and here, in order to untangle the d7-knight, Black has to guard the d8-rook. This gives White time to bring his knight to d6.} Kc7 26. Ne4 $18) 24. Bxc6 $1 {Perfect timing. Jason damages Black's pawn structure and gives himself some targets on the queenside to eventually attack.} bxc6 25. b4 ({Gaining space on the kingside would also be a good plan:} 25. h4 Kc7 26. h5 { and White can open another front on the kingside by playing g4-g5 and giving the rook targets.}) 25... Nd7 26. Rd1 Nb6 $2 27. Rxd8+ Kxd8 28. Kd4 $1 Kd7 29. Ne2 ({A common idea in endgames with an advantage is to fix a weakness on a square where it will be a permanent target. When White plays} 29. a4 $1 { , with the idea of a4-a5 in the near future, it will create a weakness on a6. White can then play Nc3-e4-c5 with a winning advantage, i.e.} Kc7 30. a5 Nd7 31. Ne4 {.}) 29... Nd5 30. a3 Nc7 31. c4 Na8 32. Nc3 Nb6 33. Ne4 Na4 {[#]} 34. g5 ({Trading immediately leads to a winning position:} 34. Nc5+ {Trading immediately leads to a winning position.} Nxc5 35. Kxc5 Kc7 36. h4 {.}) 34... h5 35. Nc5+ Nxc5 36. Kxc5 {Jason shows off some simple but effective winning technique to bring home the full point.} Kc7 37. h4 g6 38. a4 a5 39. bxa5 Kd7 40. a6 Kc8 41. Kxc6 Kb8 42. c5 Ka7 43. Kd7 Kxa6 44. c6 Ka5 45. c7 Kxa4 46. c8=Q Ka3 47. Qb7 Ka4 48. Kc6 Ka3 49. Kc5 f5 50. Kc4 Ka2 51. Kc3 Ka1 52. Qb2# { A smooth game from Jason that helped set the stage for our team throughout the tournament.} 1-0 [/pgn]

There appeared to be a pairing glitch for the second round, but everyone took it in stride and played their games without complaint. Our team won our second and third round matches and we felt like everything was working as expected in the tournament.

My fourth-round game was one of my most memorable of the tournament. It was a quick game but felt impactful because of the team studying we did on the Sicilian Defense before the tournament began. My opponent walked into a line of the Rossolimo variation that we all had studied in great detail. It only took one mistake for my opponent to end up in a dire situation. To me the game was representative of the hard work and progress we made leading up to the tournament. Hopefully the reader will get some enjoyment out of it as well.

[pgn][Event "World Team East"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2021.02.14"] [Round "4"] [White "Molner, Mackenzie"] [Black "Mundayat, Abinav"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2483"] [BlackElo "2130"] [Annotator "Molner"] [PlyCount "29"] [EventDate "2021.??.??"] [TimeControl "3600+10"] {My 4th round game was one of my most memorable of the tournament. It was a quick game but felt impactful because of the team studying we did on the Sicilian Defense before the tournament began. My opponent walked into a line of the Rossolimo variation that we all studied in great detail. It only took one mistake for my opponent to end up in a dire situation. To me the game was representative of the hard work and progress we made leading up to the tournament. Hopefully the reader will get some enjoyment out of it as well.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 {This move is the so-called Rossolimo variation. It is named after Nicolas Rossolimo, an American grandmaster who played some very nice games with it. It looks like it should lead to less aggressive and combative games compared to the Open Sicilian but there are lines which can lead to quick confrontation.} g6 ({The most popular alternative to the game continuation is} 3... e6 {with one idea being that Black wants to play ... Ng8-e7 to defend the c6-knight and avoid doubled pawns on the c-file. This line is out of fashion in elite chess, but is certainly playable.}) ({Another move, tried by GMs Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, is} 3... e5 $5 {It doesn't have the same level of respectability but does have a decent bit of surprise value.}) 4. O-O {One benefit of the Rossolimo for White is that it is easy to quickly castle and grab a lead in development. Part of Black's strategy involves minimizing the impact of this while still fighting for control of the center.} ({A serious alternative is} 4. Bxc6 {.}) 4... Bg7 5. c3 {I like this move, aiming to play d2-d4 while Black is taking some time to get their pieces out.} ({Caruana tested} 5. Re1 e5 6. b4 {in his World Championship match against Carlsen, getting to positions with very interesting play.}) ({And} 5. Bxc6 {is still a serious move to consider.}) 5... e5 { Black fights for control of the d4-square with as much force as he can muster. This is one the main ways of handling the position for Black, along with 5... Nf6.} 6. d4 $1 {Despite Black's strong control of this square, White needs to strike here anyway in order to open up the position to make use of the lead in development.} cxd4 7. cxd4 Nxd4 $6 ({White's initiative is kept at bay with} 7... exd4 $1 {.}) 8. Nxd4 exd4 9. Bf4 {The bishop is heading to d6 where it will be very inconveniently placed for Black, obstructing the d-pawn and inhibititng queenside development. My opponent's next move is certainly designed to prevent this move, but there is a major tactical flaw.} Qb6 $4 {[#] } 10. Na3 $1 Qf6 {My opponent tries to gain a tempo, but this is yet another queen move. Black is falling desperately behind in development, and if action isn't taken to quickly castle it is likely Black's king will be stuck in the center.} ({The most natural move would be} 10... a6 $2 {but here we see the point of 10. Na3. White plays} 11. Nc4 $1 Qxb5 $4 12. Nd6+ {winning Black's queen and, soon, the game.}) 11. Qd2 a6 12. Bg5 ({I also considered} 12. Nc4 { during the game. It looks like the threat of Bf4-e5 could be potentially powerful but it doesn't work out after} axb5 13. Be5 bxc4 14. Bxf6 Nxf6 { . Black has rightly exchanged the queen for three minor pieces. White has lost all initiative, while Black has improved their development and stands better.}) 12... Qe6 13. Bc4 Qd6 14. e5 Qb6 {The fifth queen move, and the last lost tempo Black can afford.} 15. Qf4 {[#] The f7-pawn cannot be defended without incurring heavy material losses, so my opponent resigned.} 1-0 [/pgn]

We won our fourth-round match and found ourselves paired against a very strong team in round five. We were off to a good start, with strong positions on most boards, but a major blunder in left our team down by a point early in the match. This meant we needed to score 2½/3 on the remaining boards to win the match. Somehow we managed to do it, with one of the most important performances coming from Sean Finn on third board.

[pgn][Event "World Team East"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2021.02.14"] [Round "5"] [White "Zhu, Jenny"] [Black "Finn, Sean"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E83"] [WhiteElo "2002"] [BlackElo "2121"] [Annotator "Molner"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "2021.??.??"] [TimeControl "3600+10"] {In this game our board three player, Sean Finn, won a vital game in our push towards victory as a team. After a loss on board four we needed a resounding performance on the remaining boards to get the win. Sean came through with flying colors in an opening that he has a lifetime of experience in.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nge2 O-O 6. f3 Nc6 7. Be3 a6 8. Rc1 e5 $6 { Most likely this is not the best move here.} ({Black's most common plan in this variation is to play} 8... Bd7 $1 {with the idea of protecting the c6-knight, and playing ...b7-b5 at a later time.}) ({Another way to achieve the same idea is} 8... Rb8 9. Qd2 Bd7 {.}) 9. d5 $1 {White closes the center and gains time against the knight on c6.} Ne7 10. Qd2 Nh5 {[#]} ({Here the best option for Black is} 10... Ne8 $1 {In the King's Indian, Black needs some kind of pawn strike against the white center. The most common way to achieve this is playing ...f7-f5, focusing attention on the kingside where he has a space advantage. Sean's move in the game aims to accomplish the same thing, but unfortuntely allows White a nice response.}) 11. Bh6 $2 ({Samisch players should play the thematic} 11. g4 $1 {as White entertains the idea of a kingside attack, and here there is no tactical reason not to play it. For example, if} Nf4 {(the typical reply to g2-g4)} 12. Nxf4 exf4 13. Bxf4 f5 14. h3 $1 {White has a complete grip on the position. Black lacks counterplay in return for the pawn.}) 11... f5 ({Black should insert} 11... Bxh6 12. Qxh6 { and only then push} f5 {.}) 12. Bxg7 Kxg7 {This exchange significantly helps Black. It removes Black's worst piece and leaves White weak on the dark squares.} 13. Ng3 $1 Nf4 ({Not} 13... Nxg3 $2 14. hxg3 {when White would be poised for a dangerous attack.}) 14. h4 h6 ({Another good option was} 14... Ng8 {.}) 15. Nce2 fxe4 $2 ({Black gets an overwhelming space advantage after the superior} 15... Nxe2 $1 16. Bxe2 f4 $1 17. Nf1 c5 $1 {.}) 16. fxe4 $2 ({ White absolutely has to get the knight back into the center with} 16. Nxe4 $1 { so that it has a purpose. On g3 it is dominated by the g6-pawn.}) 16... c5 { A nice idea by Sean, limiting counterplay while also getting ready to open up a second front with the move ...b7-b5.} 17. Nxf4 Rxf4 18. Be2 Ng8 $1 {Another strong manuever, bringing the knight back to the center where it exerts pressure on e4 and helps cover other important kingside squares.} 19. h5 g5 { A position like this illustrates why it is in Black's interest to trade off his dark-squared bishops -- it would be completely shut in were it still on the board. Instead White has the same problem for his bishop.} ({Also good was } 19... Qg5 {.}) 20. Rf1 b5 $2 ({Preparing the pawn push with} 20... Bd7 $1 { was more prudent.}) 21. Kd1 $2 ({Here White missed a surprising resource with} 21. b4 $1 {when White is right back in the game. The center becomes very unstable and the white pieces get active. After} cxb4 22. c5 {the game becomes very complicated. Black's pieces on the back rank are seriously misplaced.}) 21... Nf6 22. Qd3 $2 ({The last chance to continue the fight was} 22. b4 $1 {.} ) 22... bxc4 23. Qxc4 Rb8 $1 {Now Sean is total control. White's pawns are overextended and Black has tremendous counterplay on the dark-squares.} 24. Kc2 Rb4 $1 {White's position collapses.} 25. Qd3 Rd4 26. Qc3 Nxe4 27. Nxe4 Rdxe4 28. Bd3 Rd4 29. Kb1 Qf6 $1 {I remember watching the game while playing mine and thinking that Sean is setting a trap for his opponent. Although it looks like Black is simply making a developing move there is a hidden threat behind it.} ({Sean avoided} 29... Rxd3 $4 30. Qxd3 Bf5 31. Qxf5 Rxf5 32. Rxf5 { which would be an absolute disaster for him. The white rooks are going to be very active and presenting problems for the black king.}) 30. g3 $2 {[#] White doesn't notice Black's idea. I like to remind students to always be alert to your opponent's active moves. Instead of moving the f4-rook, Black has a better option.} Rxd3 $1 31. gxf4 ({The main idea was} 31. Qxd3 Bf5 $1 {when the f5-bishop defended by the queen as well as the rook. After} 32. Qxf5 Qxf5+ {it's mate in five!}) 31... Rxc3 {Black's advantage here is completely unstoppable. Sean advances his kingside pawns and White soon resigns.} 32. Rxc3 exf4 33. Ka1 g4 34. Rc2 f3 35. Rcf2 Bf5 36. Rg1 Qg5 37. a4 Be4 38. a5 g3 39. Rff1 f2 {White resigns} 0-1 [/pgn]

The strangeness of playing online had passed. It felt like the tournament was flying by, just like it would were we in Parsippany. Before we knew it, it was the final round.

We found it humorous that our final round opponents were another local chess team, “DOCA,” or “Dean of Chess Academy,” that we all know very well. My opponent was IM Dean Ippolito, a good friend of mine and a long-time training partner. We’ve played countless times so it made for an interesting opponent. Our team was slightly outrated on boards two and three, but we had an advantage on board four. The match was eventually drawn. I’ve chosen to show the only game our team won from the match.

[pgn][Event "World Team East"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2021.02.14"] [Round "6"] [White "Evans, Serena"] [Black "Knesevitch, Ed"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B33"] [WhiteElo "1960"] [BlackElo "1616"] [Annotator "Molner"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2021.??.??"] [TimeControl "3600+10"] {Heading into the final round, our team was 5-0 and we were paired against another New Jersey team that we were very familiar with. Eventually the match was tied 2-2 and this was our team's only win. Our entire team had been studying the Sicilian in preparation for the tournament, and our fourth board, Ed Knesevitch, was able to put some of that practice to use in this game.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 {Serena opts to go into the mainline of the Sveshnikov Sicilian. The biggest upside to White's position is the fantastic outpost on d5. Black will often gain the bishop pair and have counterplay against the center using pawn strikes like ... f7-f5.} a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 {All standard theory thus far.} 11. Nxf6+ $2 {[#] Serena veers off the beaten path. The d5-knight is a more valuable piece than the f6-bishop. White should play to maintain her powerful grip on the light squares while bringing the a3-knight back into the game. The two key moves here are 11.c3 and 11.c4.} gxf6 $2 {There are many positions in the Sveshnikov where Black wants to capture back towards the center, but this is an exception.} ({After} 11... Qxf6 $1 {Black's activity will lead to a better game. He will have no issues with castling and will quickly be able to complete his development, while White still needs more time to bring the a3-knight back into the game.}) 12. c4 Qa5+ ({Black can occupy the juicy d4-square immediately with} 12... Nd4 $1 13. cxb5 Qa5+ 14. Qd2 axb5 {and Black has an advantage.}) 13. Qd2 Qxd2+ 14. Kxd2 b4 15. Nc2 f5 16. exf5 Bxf5 17. Ne3 ({Serena should trade the bishops if allowed. After} 17. Bd3 Bxd3 18. Kxd3 f5 19. a3 {she would even be pushing for an advantage if she can soften up the queenside a bit.}) 17... Be6 18. g3 ({Creating a grip on f5 with} 18. Bd3 $1 { would be very valuable.}) 18... Nd4 $1 19. Bg2 Ra7 20. Rac1 Rc7 21. Nd5 Bxd5 22. Bxd5 ({The position is equal after} 22. cxd5 Rxc1 23. Rxc1 Kd8 {. White's control of the c-file is counterbalanced by their bishop lacking scope, and Black has a strong knight on d4.}) 22... Ke7 23. Rhe1 f6 24. Rcd1 Rc5 25. Kc1 Kd7 26. Kb1 b3 $2 ({Connecting the queenside pawns with} 26... a5 {is a strong idea, and}) ({exchanging the h-pawn with} 26... h5 {would be an ideal plan, opening up the h8-rook and getting rid of an isolated pawn.}) 27. a3 $2 ({After } 27. axb3 $1 Nxb3 28. Re3 Nd4 29. g4 {the rook's access along the third rank will give White the chance to attack Black's isolated pawns.}) 27... a5 28. Re4 h5 $1 29. Re3 h4 30. g4 Rh7 {Around here it looked like either team could win the match, so we really needed Ed to press for a win, and he delivered!} 31. h3 a4 $1 32. Rf1 (32. f4 {would help restrict Black's kingside advances. The e5-pawn is tied to the knight and the f6-pawn needs to guard the e5-pawn. If White can play f4-f5 next, the position will be completely locked up.}) 32... Ne6 33. Bxe6+ Kxe6 34. Rc1 Rhc7 35. Rec3 e4 $2 ({Much cleaner is} 35... f5 $1 { with a huge advantage.}) 36. Re1 Rxc4 37. Rxe4+ Rxe4 38. Rxc7 Re1+ 39. Rc1 {[#] } Re2 ({Everyone knows that trading when ahead in material usually leads to victory. After} 39... Rxc1+ {Black may not lead in material but the difference in king activity is key:} 40. Kxc1 Ke5 41. Kd2 Kf4 42. Ke2 d5 43. Kd3 Kf3 44. Kd4 Kxf2 45. Kxd5 Kg3 46. Ke6 Kxh3 47. Kxf6 Kxg4 {with a trivial win.}) 40. Rf1 f5 ({Why not just push the d-pawn down the board with} 40... d5 {?}) 41. g5 Kf7 42. Kc1 Kg6 43. f4 Rc2+ 44. Kb1 d5 45. Rc1 Rf2 46. Rc6+ Kf7 47. Rc7+ Ke6 48. g6 Rxf4 49. g7 Rf1+ 50. Rc1 Rxc1+ 51. Kxc1 Kf7 52. Kd2 Kxg7 53. Ke3 Kf6 54. Kf4 d4 55. Kf3 Ke5 56. Ke2 Ke4 57. Kf2 f4 58. Ke2 f3+ 59. Kf2 d3 60. Ke1 Ke3 61. Kd1 f2 62. Kc1 f1=Q# {A crucial and much needed victory for our team. At this point in the match I was still playing my own game against International Master Dean Ippolito. I was pushing for a win but eventually the game leveled out to a three-fold repitition, landing us in a massive tie for first with 5½/ 6. We were very fortunate to come out ahead on tiebreaks.} 0-1 [/pgn]

With our games done, we eagerly awaited the results from the remaining matches to see if our 5½/6 score would hold up for first place. After a draw and win by the right teams, we found ourselves tied at the top of the standings with several others, and after the tiebreaks were crunched, we were shocked to find out that we won overall! We were overjoyed. It was a nice bit of joy in a very difficult time, and winning with a bunch of friends made our victory that much better.

This last year has been incredibly difficult for many people both mentally and physically. In a time when so many things we took for granted weren’t possible anymore, and when “pandemic fatigue” was really beginning to kick in for so many people, this tournament gave players something really exciting and positive to look forward to.

I’m grateful to the NJSCF and chessclub.com for hosting the tournament, and to the organizing team lead by E. Steven Doyle for all the work they did to make this tournament happen. Special thanks go (but are not limited) to David Hater, Danny Rohde, Aaron Kiedes, Harold Stenzel, Harold Scott, and the late Ken Ballou. The Team East was the last event that Ken worked before his tragic passing in April. He will be so very missed.


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GM Mackenzie Molner

Mac Molner is a Grandmaster who learned to play at the age of seven, winning state championships, national team championships, and the GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions during his scholastic career. Today “Mac” coaches both individuals and teams through his “GrandMaster Mac Chess Academy.” Visit his webpage at grandmastermac.com for all the details.


2021 U.S. Amateur Team East, At A Glance:

Winners: 1st: The Secret Square (GM Mackenzie Molner, Jason Lu, Sean Finn, Ed Knesevitch); 2nd: DOCA (IM Dean Ippolito, Ian Harris, William Marcelino, Serena Evans); 3rd: ICA Freudian Mouseslip (FM Dylan McClain, Evan Rosenberg, Maxwell Schwartz, Yuvanshu Argarwal); 4th: Imagine Playing Chess on Valentine’s Day (IM Craig Hilby, IM Joshua Sheng, FM Guannan Song, Dylan Rosario); 5th: Intangibles (Steven Cooklev, FM Jim Dean, John Langreck, Drew D. Hollinberger).

Class Prizes: U2100: Hydroxychlorokings; U2000: Middlegame Stops; U1900: The Terrifying Thrashers; U1800: Random Guys; U1700: The Chess Geec's; U1600: Beth's Double Pawns; U1500: Achoo (Stevens-A); U1400: Pawn-Z Scheme; U1000: Gill Knights.

Top College: Princeton Tangerine; Top High School: ICA BCA I; Top Middle School: Virus Killer; Top Elementary School: Killer Knights. Top Scholastic (Collin’s Award): Stalemated by COVID Since USTATE.

Mixed Doubles: Quaranteam in VA; Top Senior: Socially Distant Opposition; Top Female: Knights Of The Square Table; Top Family: All Ng The Family; Top Future: Magical Chess; Parent/Child: The Eagle Fang Attack.

State Winners: CT: Hopkin’s Grey; FL: 4th Board Man Gets Paid; MD: Team Mumpai; MA: We Won't Come Short of Winning; NJ: The Secret Square; NY: Stalemated by COVID Since USTATE; PA: Russian Mafia; VA: Quaranteam In VA.

Best Name: Find Me 11,780 More Pawns.

See complete standings at: https://njscf.org/usate-2021/

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