MARS ATTACKS

By Tim Thompson


Part One: 1998


The tables below show the team roster & box score. The ratings are as provided for the competition by the U.S. Chess Federation. A rating of 2200 or higher is that of a master, while ratings in the range 2000 - 2199 are in the expert class.

1998 Mars Attacks Team Roster
Board Name Rating Score
1 Richard Borgen 2246 4 - 2
2 Larry Stevens 2163 3½ - 2½
3 Julio-Cesar Marin 2083 5 - 1
4 Tim Thompson 2040 4 - 2


1998 Mars Attacks Box Score
Borgen 1 0 1 ½ 1 ½
Stevens 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½
Marin 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1
Thompson 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 0

The U.S. Amateur Team (chess) Championship starts every year over the President's Day weekend, when teams gather for four regional competitions, north, south, east, and west. The USATW is commonly hosted by the Southern California Chess Federation and conducted in the Los Angeles area. I have played several times in the USATW, holding 4th board for the 3rd place team The Four Horsemen in 1984, and winning the top prize for that board in the process, with a 6-0 score. I won the Best Performance by an Alternate award in 1987 (sounds like an Academy Award, doesn't it?), and now in 1998 I get to take another trophy home, the Best Industrial Team award. Shuck's, it's only been 11 years since I last won something there. Maybe in 11 more years I can do it again!

Julio-Cesar Marin put in the best performance, with 4 wins and two draws. His 5 point total on board 3 was the top score for that board in the tournament, but there were several players who scored 5-1 at 3rd board, and the top score prize went to another player on tie-break points. Marin is a counselor & teacher at San Gabriel High School. The rest of the team are from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, by virtue of which Mars Attacks qualified as an industrial team.

Mars Attacks won the top industrial team award by edging out a team from Tandem Computers (The Orphaned Polgar Brothers) which came down to L.A. from Cupertino to compete in the tournament.


1st Round
Mars Attacks Wins vs. The Mongos

As expected for the first round of a Swiss System tournament, we outrated our opposition by a large margin on all boards, and won all four games. The Bond family, Mel and his two sons, plays in the tournament, with Newton visiting from Las Vegas every year. I have known them for a long time, and we wondered together before the pairings were made, whether or not we might meet in the first round. And so we did.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Mel Bond 1805 0 - 1 Richard Borgen 2246
Larry Stevens 2163 1 - 0 Mike Newton 1749
John Bond 1674 0 - 1 Julio-Cesar Marin 2083
Tim Thompson 2040 1 - 0 Mike Bond 1630

2nd Round
Mars Attacks Loses vs. Who's on 1st, Watson 2nd

Suddenly we faced the number two team in the contest, with an average pre-tournament rating of 2196.5 (2199.75 is the maximum allowed). We could not hold back the two international strength players on the top boards, but we out-rated their bottom two boards, and had chances to draw the match if Cesar and I could both win. Cesar did just that, but I was only able to salvage a draw from my game. After blundering away a pawn in the opening, I managed to swindle my opponent into a drawn endgame when he overlooked a sacrifice that got me a draw in the infamous Rook-pawn and wrong-Bishop endgame.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Richard Borgen 2246 0 - 1 FM Cyrus Lakdawala 2546
IM John Watson 2425 1 - 0 Larry Stevens 2163
Julio-Cesar Marin 2083 1 - 0 Arthur Gramatz 1968
Eric Shoemaker 1847 ½ - ½ Tim Thompson 2040

3rd Round
Mars Attacks Wins vs. Dancing Your Knights Away

This was a surrealistic match. On top board, Richard had a difficult game, but at the very end of the sudden-death time control, with only seconds left on his clock, he was able to finish checkmating Hilliard with King and Rook, obliged to move very fast to avoid losing on time. On second board, with the win in hand, Larry overlooked a perpetual check and was forced to take a draw. On fourth board, I outplayed my opponent in the opening and won when he blundered into checkmate. Or so we both thought at the time. Only days later did I realize that the winning move was illegal! Neither of us noticed that my own King was in check at the time. Had he noticed, and called attention to it at once, I would have been forced by the touch-move rule to block that check with my Queen and lose the game. We are supposed to be better than that, but this kind of weirdness does happen from time to time. Only Cesar won in "normal" style.

White Rating Score Black Rating
James Hilliard 1997 0 - 1 Richard Borgen 2246
Larry Stevens 2163 ½ - ½ Myron Cook 1787
John Diebold 1734 0 - 1 Julio-Cesar Marin 2083
Tim Thompson 2040 1 - 0 Jericee McFadden 1630

4th Round
Mars Attacks Draws vs. The Orphaned Polgar Brothers

The last round of the 2nd day of the competiton found us paired against our main rivals for the Best Industrial Team trophy. Although we outrated them on the bottom 3 boards, we could make no headway. They all played well and cautiously, and all four games ended in draws. So our two teams went into the final day of competition with the same scores, tied for the trophy.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Richard Borgen 2246 ½ - ½ Richard Koepke 2288
Jim Uren 1991 ½ - ½ Larry Stevens 2163
Julio-Cesar Marin 2083 ½ - ½ Chris Block 1927
Peter McKone 2040 ½ - ½ Tim Thompson 2040

5th Round
Mars Attacks Wins vs. The Queen-T-Essential Tribe

This morning we found ourselves against the all-female team from San Diego, and I was paired against Alina Markowski, who must be the oldest active chessplayer in southern California. We have played many tournament games over the years, but I have still won them all. Richard & Larry put in strong performances to bring home the points in good style. Ann Marie Rosas got a strong game out of the opening, and had good winning chances, but she could find no way through Cesar's defence, and they eventually drew. The Orphaned Polgar Brothers lost their morning match, puting us a full point ahead of them going into the last round.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Ivona Jezerska 2195 0 - 1 Richard Borgen 2246
Larry Stevens 2163 1 - 0 Chouchon Derapetian 2117
Ann Marie Rosas 1912 ½ - ½ Julio-Cesar Marin 2083
Tim Thompson 2040 1 - 0 Alina Markowski 1500

6th and Final Round
Mars Attacks Draws vs. Carlos and the Bobcats

The last round was a tough match. Larry and McGuire agreed to a draw very quickly, at McGuire's suggestion, due to lack of sleep the night before; good for us, as McGuire with a master's rating, would be exected to put up a strong fight otherwise. Cesar won a neat game against long-time friend/rival Wes White. I lost my game against the former Girls-under-18 champion of China, who played very well. Richard's game was one of the last two or three games to finish, a see-saw affair that saw both players on top at one point or another, and finally ended in a draw. The Orphaned Polgar Brothers won their last match, but by drawing we remained ½ point ahead, to win the Best Industrial Team trpohy.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Richard Borgen 2246 ½ - ½ Carlos Garcia 2235
Bob McGuire 2208 ½ - ½ Larry Stevens 2163
Julio-Cesar Marin 2083 1 - 0 Wesley White 1960
Xiaosong Zhu 1854 1 - 0 Tim Thompson 2040


Part Two: 2003


2003 Mars Attacks Team Roster
Board Name Rating Score
1 Richard Borgen 2284 5 - 1
2 Julio-Cesar Marin 2070 2 - 3
3 Tim Thompson 2040 3 - 3
4 David Stein 1798 3 - 3


2003 Mars Attacks Box Score
Borgen 1 1 1 1
Marin 0 1 0
Thompson 1 0 1 0
Stein 1 0 1 0 1 0


1st Round
Mars Attacks Wins vs. Praxis O' Wee Pawns of Mass Destruction

The most popular source for team names is a movie title, but current events are another one. Combine the sudden proliferation of the phrase "weapons of mass destruction", and "praxis", made famous by Nimzovich in the book title "Praxis of My System", and there you have it. But they were not that destructive. Rusty from a couple of years away from tournament chess, Cesar missed a win in his game. Martin tried 1.b4 against me but was never able to make anything of it. We won the first round fairly easily, as expected.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Ped Bashi 1762 0 - 1 Richard Borgen 2284
Julio-Cesar Marin 2070 - Ronald Hoffman 1692
Richard Martin 1556 0 - 1 Tim Thompson 1900
David Stein 1798 1 - 0 Edwin Sasaki 1546


2nd Round
Mars Attacks Loses vs. Indiana Jones and the Knights of Doom

In 1998, the 2nd round saw us meet the 2nd ranked team. This year we managed to take on the 3rd ranked team instead. Led by stron senior master Stephen Jones (I don't know if he's from Indiana), the strong team proved too much for us. Richard managed to hold a draw, but the rest of us were outgunned. I missed a good try against my opponent and lost a close game.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Richard Borgen 2284 - Stephen Jones 2360
Charles van Buskirk 2317 1 - 0 Julio-Cesar Marin 2070
Tim Thompson 1900 0 - 1 Takashi Iwamoto 2153
Michael Carr 1950 1 - 0 David Stein 1798


3rd Round
Mars Attacks Wins vs. Pushy Pawn Promoters

This round requires a bit of an explanation. Larry Stevens, who played on the 1998 team, and on others, decided to get married over President's Day last year, and we figured he probably would not take the whole weekend off, on his anniversary. So Richard & I asked David Stein to play. No sooner had we set up the team, than Larry sends me an E-mail about playing! Larry found another team, from the Arcadia Chess Club, and played top board for them. Larry & Richard shared a room at the hotel during the tournament, and in this round our teams were paired. Larry had to take on his old buddy. Playing the white pieces, Larry threw the kitchen sink in a wild attacking game, but Richard held on to score the point. Cesar & David won in normal style. I managed to win only after achieving a dead lost position against Fred (whom I have played many times at Arcadia). He failed to press the advantage, and my counter attack rattled him into blundering into a loss. By luck & skill, we managed a clean sweep.


White Rating Score Black Rating
Larry Stevens 2060 0 - 1 Richard Borgen 2284
Julio-Cesar Marin 2070 1 - 0 John Anderson 1748
Fred Brock 1747 0 - 1 Tim Thompson 1900
David Stein 1798 1 - 0 Marcus Benton 1653


4th Round
Mars Attacks Draws vs. One Knight in Bangkok

The team name is a double-entendre; "One Night in Bangkok" being a popular song from the musical "Chess", and also referring to 4th board player Chris Lee, who is Thai (and changed his name from Leeisaranakul to Lee since nobody could pronounce Leeisaranakul). Playing against a stronger team, we held a draw. Richard scored an upset on top board, and Cesar & I held off strong experts. Only the Bangkok Knight managed to win, saving a draw for his team. In My game, Nethercot played a Schleimann Defence in the Ruy Lopez (aka Spanish Opening), and I avoided main lines by playing an early Qe2. I might have tried to trade off rooks and play for a theoretical win in the K&P endgame, but considering that those endgames are Nethercot's specialty, and figuring he would not readily trade off the rook anyway, I settled for a draw. So was a being chicken or realistic? You be the judge.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Richard Borgen 2284 1 - 0 Danny McClintock 2347
Charles Grotts 2197 - Julio-Cesar Marin 2070
Tim Thompson 1900 - Ben Nethercot 2162
Chris Lee 2066 1 - 0 David Stein 1798


5th Round
Mars Attacks Draws vs. Castle if you Can

Well, I can tell you we all managed to castle! The game between David & Randy Higa on 4th board was the last game to finish in the round. I invited Darrell Yap to attack me by swiping a pawn in a line where I've never seen anyone do it before. It worked, he attacked, and one might wonder if he should not have won. But he gave me one chance at a counter attack and I jumped on it. rattled, he blundered into a loss. But the position was complicated and I lost the way. Eventually he was forced to draw by perpetual check.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Eric Ferguson 2177 0 - 1 Richard Borgen 2284
Julio-Cesar Marin 2070 - Randy Hough 2008
Darrell Yap 1947 - Tim Thompson 1900
David Stein 1798 1 - 0 Randy Higa 1865


6th Round
Mars Attacks Loses vs. The Taylor and His Apprentices

International Master Tim Taylor couldn't get past Borgen either. But the rest of his apprentices managed to pull it off. In my game I sacrificed a Knight for two deep, connected passed pawns supported by my Queen. Unfortunately, my attack wanted a tempo (just one more move!), and I resigned going into a Q&P ending, down a couple pawns and the sac'ed Knight. You can't say we didn't try.

White Rating Score Black Rating
Richard Borgen 2284 - IM Tim Taylor 2411
Leonid Furman 2112 1 - 0 Julio-Cesar Marin 2070
Tim Thompson 1900 0 - 1 Mikhail Zaloznyy 2083
Alberto Barosso 1934 1 - 0 David Stein 1798


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