Written for The Argo by Christian Discenza and Nicholas Carlson
In a time where in-person recreational activities are all but a fond memory, chess manages to not only survive, but thrive in the online spectrum. This online method of playing chess was essential in hosting the New Jersey State Chess Federation’s (NJSCF) 2021 World Amateur & United States Amateur Team East (USATE) chess tournament, through the Internet Chess Club’s (ICC) website. The tournament was moderated by individuals known as tournament directors (TDs) through everyone’s favorite meeting application, Zoom.
The NJSCF dedicated a great deal of time and effort to facilitate over 500 chess players to participate in this year’s USATE tournament. In order to participate in the tournament, players needed to register an account with the ICC, hold an active membership with the United States Chess Federation (USCF), and use a camera to capture their hands and computer screen while playing.
The USATE tournament was split into six rounds: three rounds on Saturday, February 13 and three rounds on Sunday, February 14. Each round gave players one hour on each of their digital clocks with an additional ten seconds added to the clock for every move they made.
Chess players of all ages and from all parts of the United States formed teams that consisted of four players. Members of Stockton’s Osprey Chess Club entered the fray under the team name, The Ospreys. The Ospreys consisted of Osprey Chess Club members Ahmed Gawash, Samuel Smith Jr., and club Vice President, Christian Discenza. The final member and team captain was Dylan Clark, who is an experienced tournament player from the Toms River Chess Club.
The club’s president, Nicholas Carlson, is the NJSCF’s Media Director and had the privilege of serving as one of the TDs during the tournament. His job was to help promote fair play among all players. E. Steven Doyle, who is an alumnus of Stockton University and the former USCF and NJSCF president, was the Chief TD for this unique occasion and welcomed all players prior to the tournament on the NJSCF YouTube channel. Mr. Doyle expressed sincere appreciation to all chess players signing up this year to continue the tradition of the annual USATE tournament which has been played every year since 1971.
The event was broadcasted live on the streaming website Twitch, where the broadcast featured grandmaster analysis, game spectating, post-match interviews as well as interviews with special guests such as former US Chess Presidents, authors, poker pros, and more. During the tournament, players were able to enjoy their favorite pass-time on a competitive level for yet another year, despite its change in method of play.
Overall, the USATE tournament was a pleasant experience to partake in and it was great to be reminded that not all recreational activities were lost to the pandemic.
Stockton’s Osprey Chess Club was founded in October of 2018 by current president Nicholas Carlson and Professors Bradley Forrest and Yitzhak Sharon. For more information about the Osprey Chess Club visit the club’s website at Ospreychess.com.