A full house at U.S. Amateur Team East
As the politicians will tell you this election year, support is nice, but it’s turnout that’s critical. By that score, this year’s U.S. Amateur Team East championship, held again in its familiar Parsippany, N.J., home, surpassed even its high standards. The popular team event, the largest of its kind in the United States and one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world, attracted a record 294 four-player teams this year.
As noted here previously, the team Forking With Tebow’s Knights Won’t Lead to Mating” (oddball team names are part of USATE tradition), anchored by Yale GM Robert Hess, took the title and will square off in the playoff in the coming weeks with winners from the other three regions.
With teams limited to an average rating of 2200, a single team at the USATE can span the ratings gamut, with a grandmaster on top board and a Class E player on Board 4, with both games counting the same toward the final match score. Celebrating the little-guy, democratic vibe of the tournament, we offer here a trio of games by players squarely in the middle of the ratings charts.
The Board 3 battle between Class A players Douglas Ulrich of One Point Too High and Walter De Jong of the Binghamton Ecssh Dyslexics featured some master-level tactics on both sides, starting with White’s very sophisticated exchange sacrifice after 21. Qe2 Qe6 22. Rd5!. DeJong wisely declines, as in lines such as 22. . . . Bxd5?! 23. cxd5 Qf6 24. g4! White threatens to overwhelm his opponent with 25. e5 Qd8 26. e6 Re8 27. Qb2 f6 28. d6! Bxd6 29. e7 Bxe7 30. Qb3+ Kh8 31. Qf7 Rg8 32. Bxa8 Qxa8 33. Ne7, winning.
But after 22. . . . Rfe8! 23. Bh3!?, Black should have grabbed the rook with 23. . . . Bxd5, as he has plenty for his lost queen after 24. Nh6+ gxh6 25. Bxe6 Bxe6 26. Bxh6. Instead, 23. . . . Qxe4?! 24. Qg4 g6? (Bc3! was the last, best hope — 25. Bg2 Qe6 26. Rd6 cxd6 27. Bxb7 Ra7 28. Bd5 Qe2 29. Nh6+ Kh8 30. Nxf7+ Rxf7 31. Qxe2 Rxe2 holds) opens the floodgate for the impressive final assault.
Thus: 25. Bg2 Qe2 26. Nh6+ Kg7 (Kh8 27. Qxe2 Rxe2 28. Re5! wins material) 27. Bf3 Qe6 28. Be5+! f6 (Kxh6?? 29. Qh4 mate, while 28. . . . Kf8 29. Qd4 Bxd5 30. Bg7+ Ke7 31. Bxd5 Qe2 32. Qf6+ Kd7 33. Qc6+ puts the Black king in a mating net) 29. Rd7+ Qxd7 (no better was 29. . . . Kh8 30. Qxe6 Rxe6 31. Bxb7 Nc5 32. Bxa8 Nxd7 33. Bxc7) 30. Qxd7+ Re7 31. Qg4 Rae8 32. Bxf6+! Kxf6 33. Qd4+, and Dejong resigned facing 33. . . . Re5 34. Ng4+ Kf7 35. Bxb7 Re1 36. Qf6+ Kg8 37. Nh6 mate.
More tactical fun was on the menu in another Board 3 battle, this one between expert Edward Epp of the Tarnished Knights and Class B player Ethan Klein of ICA3, with Klein scoring a nice upset. In a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Black has to find an early saving move in 12. Qb3 Nxd4!, ready to meet 13. Nxf7?! with 13. . . . Bxh2+ 14. Kxh2 Nxb3 15. Nd6+ Qe6 16. Bxb3 Qxb3 17. axb3 cxd6, winning a pawn.
With both players poised to attack, an ill-timed check undermines White’s game: 23. Qg8+? (g3! Qh5 24. Qg2 is equal) Ke7 24. Qg7+ Kd8 25. Nb5, and though White’s attack looks dangerous, it is Black who breaks through first with 25. . . . Nf3+! (good enough, but an extra exclamation point would have gone to 25. . . . Qxh2+!! 26. Kf1 [Kxh2 Nf3+ 27. Kh3 Rh5+ 28. Kg4 Nh2 is a very nice mate] Ng4 27. Ke2 Rxf2+ 28. Kd3 Rxe3+ and mate soon) 26. . . . Nxh2+ 27. Kg1 (Ke1 Rxe3+ 28. Kd1 Qxf2) Rxe3! 28. Nxd6 (fxe3 Qf2+ 29. Kh1 Qf1+! 30. Rxf1 Rxf1 mate) Qxf2+, and White gave up in light of 29. Kh1 Re1+ 30. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 31. Kxh2 Rh5 mate.
Finally, one of the event’s more piquant finishes came in the Board 1 game between expert David Petty of Rochester No. 2 and master Brian Hulse of the family team No Hulse Barred. Having neglected to castle, Hulse hopes to deflect the pressure on his e-file with 13. Bh4 Nxe4? (much too provocative — with 13. . . . Nc5, Black is fine) 14. Bxe7 Nxd2 (see diagram), when the expected 15. Qxd2? Kxe7 16. Bf5 Bd5 holds things together.
But Petty crosses up his opponent with the lethal and unexpected 15. Nxe6!, intending 15. . . . fxe6 16. Bg6+ Kxe7 17. Qxe6+ Kd8 18. Qe8+! Rxe8 19. Rxe8 mate; Black resigned at once.