Tuesday, February 21, 2006

U.S. Amateur Teams East, 2006


Kenilworth A players FM Steve Stoyko (foreground
right) and NM Scott Massey (background left).


Kenilworth B: (l-r) Mikhail Kruglyak, Ray Massey,
Joe Demetrick, and Greg Tomkovich

I played on the Kenilworth A team this President's Day weekend at the U.S. Amateur Teams East in Parsippany, New Jersey. I had arranged an alternate in case my wife went into labor (we are expecting our second child within the next three weeks) and was glad to have him fill in for me on Sunday -- not because my wife gave birth (thank God - I have so much to do around the house!) but because my son Joe had a terrible stomach flu and required constant care. I felt bad enough being gone from home two out of three days, but my 3.5/4 points helped the team, which scored a respectable 4.5/6 -- the same score that last year secured us the Best New Jersey Team title. I was also fortunate to have my alternate play on the tougher Sunday rounds, when he lost two tough games. Better him than me is my only thought... And the extra day of rest made it a more enjoyable experience all around, I have to admit, since the three-day tournament usually tends to wipe me out by the end.

As a Glenn Budzinski's classic ChessCafe essay, "Tournament Chess for the Rest of Us," puts it, if you can play in only one tournament per year due to family commitments, then this is the one to play in. I don't think I can add much to what Budzinski writes, except to note that a team tournament naturally promotes camaraderie and it's always a pleasure to see old friends, since anyone who plays chess in New Jersey tends to play or at least stop by. I also enjoy browsing through Fred Wilson's book table, which for me is the highlight of any East Coast tournament I attend since I never have time to get into New York to visit his shop any more. And seeing lots of kids enjoying the game brings back some of that childhood wonder that got you hooked in the first place.

The busy weekend has left me with lots of work to catch up on, but I will be posting a few things in the coming days, including the better games from our team, games from Round 6 of the Kenilworth Chess Club Championship, further notes on The Panther, and my typically eclectic commentary on all things chess-related. I hope to say a few things about the Linares tournament, too, especially after the stunning Svidler victory over Topalov in Round One.

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