USATN: UChicago B Repeats as Tournament Breaks 100 Teams

It is quite impressive how the US Amateur East Team manages over 300 teams every year, but until Heisenberg gets dethroned, the US Amateur Team North is the first of the other regional events that was able to break 100 teams, clocking in at 110 this year. Chess Weekend has done a phenomenal job in growing this event over the years into what it has become. To my friends that hosted in Parsippany, New Jersey: we are knocking on your door.


Grey Matter

A collection of the nation’s finest young minds, will UChicago B repeat as champs? If the average rating of a team does not exceed 2200, all is fair game. Even if your top board is a grandmaster. And your second board is a grandmaster, for that matter!


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GM Awonder Liang in action for UChicago B (courtesy Jiten Patel)


It is common to have a more balanced team but, for the second straight year, UChicago B employed a bold strategy where they stack three titled players on the top boards and average it out with a sub-1000 player bringing up the rear. The grandmasters — Awonder Liang and Praveen Balakrishnan —stayed the same, but FM Kapil Chandran and 812-rated Will Eastwick were new additions.

Other pre-tournament favorites included dreamy knights, Iowan Joseph Wan’s team that always contends for the title. This year, the knights boasted IM Dimitar Mardov on the top board and young Iowan upstart Irene Fei bringing up the tail end.


dreamy knights
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IM Dimitar Mardov (L) captains the dreamy knights (courtesy Jiten Patel)


Another favorite was a new team whose average rating clocked in at exactly 2200. These ringers, known as Welcome to the Dojo, certainly bear some relation to their same-named cohorts competing for the top prize at USATE. While GM Jesse Kraai of the Chess Dojo led the East’s team, fellow sensei IM Kostya Kavtuskiy led the balanced brigade at the North.

Yet, by the end of the first full day, none of these top teams remained unbeaten. With so many strong teams, both Welcome to the Dojo and dreamy knights were facing off against teams with average ratings over 2000 from the start, and both conceded draws. But the upset of the tournament occurred in round three, when Riders on the Pawn Storm, boasting an average rating of only 1757, held UChicago B to a draw!

Here’s GM Awonder Liang with very insightful and humble analysis of his loss that cemented the upset.



This cleared the way for local youngsters Stevenson HS to lead the field headed into the final day. But after yielding a draw to Welcome to the Dojo, no team entered the final round unbeaten.

With “dreamy knights” and “Welcome to the Dojo” drawing their fifth-round encounter, Uchicago B could claim at least a share of first with a win. And so they did, defeating WE SAT Down to finish 4½/5. WE SAT Down also had a strong event, starting with a perfect 3/3 after defeating basically northwestern 3½-½ in the third round. Only Aria Hoesley was able to hold a draw against Elijah Platnick on board three.



Would Riders on the Pawn Storm be able to keep up their Cinderella run? Not if basically northwestern had anything to say about it. The purple menace won the match to tie for second, handing outright first to UChicago B in the process. Here’s their decisive board one encounter.



Of course, earning the title of “Top Overall Team” is just one of many reasons over 400 players flocked to the tournament. Many teams are here playing as a group of longtime friends, high school clubs, colleagues at work, or various other reasons. A common thread here is a passion for the royal game and wanting to be a part of an amazing chess community. However, it was obvious that some teams wanted you to…



The honor of “Best Theme” was won by Good Bish, and it seemed clear throughout the weekend they were going to win it especially when maintaining a stoic and calculated demeanor like this.


Good Bishop
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Alberto Pablo captains the Good Bish team (courtesy Jiten Patel)


But when it came to “Best Team Name,” the competition was more open:


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The Human Centipawn: Craig Goodwin (L), Tim Lund, Thomas Erhardt (courtesy Jiten Patel)


There was also no shortage of color from the players.


Avi Schneider
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Avi Schneider of King Kat Sargossa Specialists


Given all the local (and national) color, it only made sense that an artist was on site to abstractly document the event. What if a chess game could be expressed in color? Meet Keegan Shiner, an individual who recreates a game played between two individuals based on its notation. We were delighted to have him display some of his artwork and show off what he can do.


Keegan Shiner
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Keegan Shiner turns your games into living color (courtesy Jiten Patel)


Keegan’s chess paintings can be found here and on Instagram so check out his work.


In the Reserve section, the two teams facing off in the final round featured two bands of weary travelers. The Beer Blitzers (1481) were from Indiana, and the Minnesota Kingslayers (1476) hailed from the land of Prince and kings.


Kingslayers v blitzers
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The Minnesota Kingslayers (L) take on the Beer Blitzers for all the marbles (courtesy Jiten Patel)


The Beer Blitzers managed to walk a straight line all weekend, winning their final match to emerge undefeated as the sole 5-0 team in either section. Drinks are on them!

All prizes and results can be found on Chess Weekend.