Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Preparing for USATE 2008

On Monday, I received this e-mail.

Hi, Jim:

Just a quick queston about the Amateur Team East held each February in New Jersey.

Can any group of chessplayers make up a chess team name with four members and an alternate, or does the chess team have to be made up of local chess club members, and what is the breakdown on the chess ratings of the chess team members, and finally how does each chess team advance in the Amateur Team East chess event?

Thank you in advance.


The short answers to your multi-leveled question are: yes, no, average of 2199 or below, and winning each match by at least 2.5-1.5.

Any group of four USCF rated players (plus one alternate, if you choose) whose combined ratings average out at less than 2200 can form a team. They do not have to be local chess club members, although quite often that is the case.

Your team advances by winning its matches. The margin of victory in each match determines tie-breaks at the end of the tournament. Naturally, sweeping a match 4-0 provides the best tie-break points; a narrow victory, the least. When my team won the USATE 1999, it happened on tie-breaks.

My advice to you when forming a team is to avoid the top-heavy approach of very highly rated players on the top boards and extremely weak players on the lower boards. Try for a more balanced mix. The most important player on your team could be your lowest rated one! In 1999, my board four scored 4-0-2. Basically, we started every match feeling that we were already ahead of our opponents!