The Gauntlet of Children (TX State Championship)
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The Gauntlet of Children (TX State Championship)

BlakeyBChess
NM BlakeyBChess
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5

A couple weeks back, I made a last-minute decision to play in the Texas State Championship.  On Friday morning, I thought I might just spend my 3-day weekend relaxing at home...and less than 24 hours, later, I'm waking up at 4am to rush to the airport, jumping on a plane to my birth city in Dallas, Texas, and driving to the hotel with only an hour to spare before the first round of a tournament!

Prior to this tournament, I had taken a hiatus from tournament chess for about half a year, to focus on my personal life as well as growing my chess website dedicated to helping you all achieve your chess dreams (that's ChessPathways.com, for anyone who's interested!), so I had modest expectations going in.  Nonetheless, I knew it was a great opportunity to find my "tournament legs" again and play some competitive chess!

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Let's get to the games! I started the event with the white pieces against Harvey Zhu, a young expert.  This would begin a trend that would remain true for the whole tournament - with the exception of my game against GM Julio Sadorra, every one of my opponents in this tournament was under the age of 18! Those outside the chess community could be forgiven for thinking of this as a gift, but we know otherwise...on the contrary, it often means that our rating is about to take a beating!

In Round 2 I played GM Julio Sadorra and lost.  The game falls a bit outside the theme of this article (as GM Sadorra is certainly not a child), and I think I'll plan on analyzing this game as part of my "Taking on the Titans" video series, where I chronicle my games against Grandmasters and International Masters! The first video in this series can be found HERE - subscribe to the channel if you want to follow along!

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Let's move onto my Round 3 game, against another talented youngster - Baron Niu.  I wasn't the only Master that Baron took down this tournament, so I'll take that as a small consolation! This line of the dragon features all sorts of fun material imbalances:

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We'll fit one more game in today  (I don't want to overwhelm you with 6 annotated games in one post! Don't worry - I'll analyze the rest in good time). Here's my 5th-round game against Cole Frutos - CM Cole Frutos, to be exact! When you see a sub-2200 player with the FIDE CM title, you know it's likely that they're improving very quickly and could be stronger than their rating - the title is often awarded to the winner of a World Youth section (I asked Cole after the game, and he said he earned the title by placing at Pan-Ams - the U10 section, if I understood him correctly).

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I was very impressed with all these youngsters - I bet they'll all be masters in no time!

That's all for now! Take your time and go through the annotations here, and let me know if you learned something.  To make sure you don't miss new content, go to ChessPathways.com and sign up today! It's totally free to join, and it'd be an honor for me to help you out on your journey to chess success.

Until next time...good luck at the chessboard!