February 22, 2008, 8:50 pm
GGGg: A Great Idea or a Stretch?
By Joel Benjamin
NY Times

The U.S. Amateur Team East event (also known as the World Amateur Team), held over Presidents’ Day Weekend in Parsippany, N.J., produced a mild controversy over the composition of the winning team. “GGGg” — the name representing three grandmasters and a future grandmaster — had the only perfect 6-0 match score. The grandmasters — Zviad Izoria, Eugene Perelshteyn, and Roman Dzindzichashvili — scored a collective 17 1/2 out of 18, while the fourth board on the team, 5-year-old Stephen Fanning, lost all six games.

The U.S. Amateur Team Championship has been regionalized into four tournaments (East, South, North, and West) for several years, but the original event, going strong for 35 years, is by far the most significant. The 291 teams in 2008 set a record for the event. The tournament is strictly for fun, with no monetary prizes. Many teams take the contests for best-team name or best costume more seriously than the games themselves.

Teams represent the spectrum of chess players. You find foursomes of little kids, club members, future grandmasters, and a few current grandmasters as well. This year, GMs Nakamura, Yudasin, Bisguier, Christiansen, and Benjamin all participated, the latter two on teams with their wives. Despite the “Amateur” in the title, anyone is eligible to play. The only condition is the four highest-rated players on a team must average below 2200 USCF (teams may use a lower-rated alternate whose rating is not counted).

There are many strategies for fielding a potent lineup. “Balanced” teams utilize four players of similar ratings; not surprisingly, these teams tend to score well on the lower boards. “Stacked” teams, with a fourth board substantially lower rated than the others, have some history of success in the tournament. “Ace Reporter Tisdall” took the title in the 80’s with three international masters and a 10-year-old girl (the girl, Julia Sarwer, actually won a critical game for the team). A team of similar construction, “Grandmaster Fedorowicz” (which I played on), lost the title on tiebreaks a few years later.

Here is the full article.

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