US Amateur Team East/World Amateur Team Report

03.04.18 On February 17-19, Matthew Fishbein was one of two Mainers to play in the US Amateur Team East/World Amateur Team tournament played in Parsippany, New Jersey. This 48th year of the hugely popular tournament, otherwise known as "The Team," had record attendance, with 326 teams and 1,377 total players from 28 states and several foreign countries. This is the largest non-scholastic tournament in the U.S., based on number of participants. Dan Fishbein has submitted this report.

The team 101 Rascals plays at the US Amateur Team East/World Amateur Team tournament played in Parsippany, New Jersey on February 17-19, 2018.

USCF crosstable of this event

This tournament is unique in many ways. It has no cash prizes--only clocks with commemorative plaques are awarded. It is one of the only tournaments that is played by teams, and in this case it's any team of four you can make, as long as the total USCF rating points are under 8800. Teams range from beginners to Senior Masters, from groups of friends to high school teams to college teams, and typically a dozen or more Grandmasters participate. It's also a tournament filled with good-natured "hoopla," with prizes for costumes and clever team names. This author's friend and the tournament organizer, Steve Doyle, presides over the start of each round like a Catskills comedian warming up the crowd for bingo. This is a social tournament, with serious play and serious fun.

Matthew's team, "101 Rascals," on three of four boards is the same team he has played with for all six years that he has gone to this tournament. On Board 1 was IM David Vigorito, Matthew's former coach. On Board 2, for the second year was Matthew (he had played Board 3 his first four times at this tournament). Board 4 is team sponsor, Mark Fins, a 1900+ player. To fit the ratings limit, the remaining Board has rotated, this year being filled by up and coming chess wunderkind Jason Tang, rated 2161.

101 Rascals came into the tournament with the 19th highest rating of the 326 teams. In Round 1, they won a convincing 3.5 to 0.5 match over the Millburn, NJ High School Chess Team. Round 2 that evening is always challenging, as it is a second long round played late into the evening on a day when many have also travelled. This round saw the Rascals in a 2-2 draw with the University of Virginia A team, with the two younger players (Matthew and Jason) getting the points.

Sunday dawned sunny and cold after a surprise 8" of snow the night before. Sunday was a great day for the team, starting with a 3.5 to 0.5 victory over CK&Q Top Guns. In Round 4, the team defeated the CBA Allstars 4-0. (As a side note, when I was growing up in Long Branch, New Jersey, my brothers played on the chess team and CBA/ Christian Brothers Academy was a friendly rival, making this win a bit sweeter.)

Sunday was also a day when a number of celebrity chess enthusiasts were sighted as spectators, including Howard Stern.

The wins of Sunday placed 101 Rascals on Board 6 (behind the velvet ropes) for Round 5 on Monday morning. The Rascals did not disappoint, besting the New England Jets (apparently a Massachusetts team with one Jets fan on the roster) 3.5 to 0.5.

The final round late Monday saw the team on Board 3. With 4.5 points, they retained an outside chance to win the whole thing. The match against Eigen Values could have gone either way, and ultimately ended in a 2-2 draw, with a win on Board 2 and draws on Boards 1 and 3.

101 Rascals finished in 7th place out of 326 teams, ahead of top teams like prior winner Princeton A. The winner was Carnegie-Mellon, and the Rascals finished just 3 positions behind MIT.

Team rookie Jason Tang finished with an impressive 5 points out of 6 on Board 3. Matthew Fishbein finished with a perfect 6-0 score, the only Board 2 in the tournament to do so. This won him the Board 2 prize. There were 9 players out of 1,377 to win 6 games, ironically including honorary cousin GM Alexander Fishbein (no relation). Matthew has always done well at this tournament, with his total record in six tries now 26 wins, 9 draws and 1 loss. It was also at this tournament four years ago that he earned his National Master title. At this tournament his US Chess rating reached 2258, making him now the highest rated player in Maine.

One other Maine player in the tournament was Warren Lohr, whose Pawn-E B Goode team finished in 171st place. Warren had a strong performance with three points.

Maine is one of the only states in the Northeast that typically has little representation at this unique tournament. This is a fun and competitive event, and it would be great to see some Maine teams there next year!

Boards 3, 2, and 1 (from left) Jason Tang, Matthew Fishbein and IM Dave Vigorito prepare to start Round 1 against Millburn High School.

In Round 2 the pairings were adjusted so that The US Naval Academy and US Military Academy could face each other on Board 1. Two games were still going as Midnight approached.

Starting Round 3 against the CBA Allstars.

Part of the main playing hall. With so many teams, the tournament also spilled over into many smaller conference rooms.

With 2,000 people in the Hilton Parsippany including parents and coaches, space for Skittles was in great demand.

Playing "behind the ropes."

(Left to right): IM Dave Vigorito, scholastic Expert Jason Tang, entrepreneur and author Mark Fins, NM Matthew Fishbein.


Outstanding performance by the " Rascals " . It looks a little chilly playing behind the ropes with winter hats and coats adorned and hoodies up.

Must be an efficient A/C system

Many kudos to the team, "Rascals" and especially to Matthew

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