U.S. team places fifth as top NATO chess players face off

This screenshot shows the final stages of the match between Lithuanian Lukas Stauskas and Germany’s Robert Stein, who finished first and second in the 31st NATO Chess Championships. (Stars and stripes)

Poland emerged triumphant as nearly 100 individual NATO alliance members tested attack and defense strategies – on the chessboard.

Belgium hosted the 31st edition of the NATO Chess Championships which brought together a large US contingent and competitors from 18 countries last week. The Americans, who have never won the event, took fifth place behind top performing Air Force 1st Lt. Eigan Wang and Captain Jason Loving. Each has won four games, lost twice and drawn.

Retired Army Col. David Hater led the U.S. team and made his 16th appearance at the championships, which began in 1989 – when some current members were allies of the Soviet Union. It did not take place in 1993 due to funding issues and in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The US team was second at the start of the seven-round event.

“Unfortunately, we did not finish as well as we would have liked,” said Hater.

Poland edged Greece 21-20 1/2 points for the title, tallied through a Swiss scoring system that awards points to the top four of each six-member team. This is the 17th time in 18 competitions that Poland have finished in the top three since entering the event, Hater said. Germany, who have won the event 23 times, a record, were content with bronze this year.

Lithuanian Lukas Stauskas individually dominated German Robert Stein and Dane Finn Pedersen. Wang was 14th and Loving 16th.

Air Force Tech also earned points for the US team. Sgt. Andrew Duran (34th) and Air Force Maj.Gordon Randall (42nd).

Active-duty and retired members of the Navy, Marines, and Army also competed for the U.S. team or a NATO team made up of members from allied nations.

The US team was selected by ranking in the American Chess Federation, Hater said.

“Just being selected sets you apart from your peers and it is quite an honor to be selected to represent your country,” he said. “Also, the ability to compete against the best military from allied nations is pretty appealing. “

Estonia is expected to host the championships next year.

Kent harris

Kent has held a number of roles at Stars and Stripes including: Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief, Journalist / Photographer, Web Editor and Overseas Sports Writer. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he served as TDY in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he graduated from Humboldt State University in 1988 and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.



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