Wednesday, February 3

Sacramento Team Champ Is Underway

(Left: Heiserman white against Lazetich. Right: Micah Cohen white against MacFarland. Photos taken by cell phone.)

The annual Team Championship at the Sacramento Chess Club began last week with nine teams and over 60 players. Each team fields six boards rated under 1750 average, with up to three alternates allowed. The premiere event of the club brings back folks who rarely attend the rest of the year. I counted 5 masters, another 5 experts and over a dozen experienced A players. No doubt the competition on the top three boards will be fierce! Round-robin play continues through March 24, although each team gets a bye.

The defending champions from UC Davis, named after the university mascot Gunrock, appear heavy favorites to repeat. NM Jim Heiserman, Phillip Seitzer, Valeriy Timofeyev and John Cohen give them four players rated above 1950 to fill the top three boards; the lower boards are manned by strong unrateds typically of class B or C strength, but who count as 1300 for the team average rating. Top challengers include Pinoy Destroyers (expert Joe Escoto plus his Filipino buddies) and 2-C (formerly called B-Nam, featuring NM Jim MacFarland on top board).

My own team, Russo's Rustlers captained by rapidly improving A player Joe Russo, might also finish in the top half of the field. (The photo at right shows Robert struggling as black against my student Nicholas Karas.) Unfortunately, we seriously got our bells rung in the first round by Gunrock's Heroes. I have never been on the wrong side of a 5.5-0.5 score before! I even lost to Phillip Seitzer due to tactical blindness and poor time management. Thanks to Marvin Gilbert for avoiding the shutout with a draw on board 4. Fortunately, the team bounced back 4-2 against King Hunters, with me sitting out.

Team Standings after round 2 (MP, GP, top board)
  1. Gunrock's Heroes (2.0, 10.5, NM Jim Heiserman)
  2. Pinoy Destroyers (2.0, 10.5, Joe Escoto)
  3. 2-C (1.0, 5.5, NM Jim MacFarland)
  4. Daze N' Knights (1.0, 5.0, Micah Cohen)
  5. Russo's Rustlers (1.0, 4.5, NM Michael Aigner)
  6. King Hunters (0.5, 5.0, Nicholas Karas)
  7. Zoki (0.5, 3.5, Ted Xiao)
  8. Zoka (0.0, 2.5, NM Zoran Lazetich)
  9. Warriors (0.0, 1.0, NM Steve Ross)
Official team standings and individual results are posted at Sacramento Chess Club website.

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