Beating the lower rated players at the Washington Junior Open Rounds 1-3

Beating the lower rated players at the Washington Junior Open Rounds 1-3

NM Joseph_Truelson

Picture is of the talented Brandon Jiang, a 1400 (1487 to be exact). Joseph Truelson played him in the first round of this tournament. Also, Joseph Levine is amazed to be in the photo and as a result is making sure to be looking at the camera. Here is Joseph's Truelson new amazing report on the Junior Open!- the new editor

"You get the reader right into the action!", my 8th grade English teacher exclaimed. We were learning about the various types of "hooks" you can have for your essay or paper, or in this case, blog. Let me elaborate. This paragraph was actually a perfect example of what he was trying to get us to do.

English -101 

A long time ago (2 years ago), at least for the young kids who are able to read by the age of 10, I was sitting in my English class assigned seat, half listening and half playing "Blackjack" on my Kindle device that the school let the 8th graders borrow to read our assigned books (if you can call the stuff we read books!). I know, it's pretty silly, letting us play games on the devices that we are supposed to use for schoolwork. This is similar to my school iPad, which I am using to type this. The school probably should get rid of the app store if they actually want us to pay attention. But if they won't, well, then I will just continue on and use the iPad for anything but the reason I should be using it.

In any case, the teacher was telling us that while our recent papers weren't bad (Trust me: They were), they were not engaging and he was falling asleep reading them. (Actually, he was probably falling asleep because he was grading them right before he went to bed. He is lucky, he has a free "boring book" to read to get himself to sleep!) So he decided to teach the class that it is very important to have a hook at the beginning of every paper. At least he tried to teach us. I'm the only student that still remembers anything that he said on that snowy, winter day. (If you didn't know, Minnesota has snow.)

One way to engage the reader is to start off the essay by asking a question that hopefully the reader is interested in. The more questions you ask, the more the reader can relate, so I probably should have started this blog off with a hundred different questions. A good example of this is if I was writing an essay on the book "Where the Wild Things Are", (One of my favorite early early childhood books, early early childhood being 5th grade) I might start off the essay by asking " Do you believe in monsters"

Another good way to begin an essay is by quoting something famous. For example, if I was writing an essay on Romeo and Juliet and my teacher was, I don't know, Samuel Deng, I might start off the paper with "Samuel, Samuel, wherefore art thou Samuel?" Believe me when I say that I have a lot of stories to tell about Romeo and Juliet, as last year we did a whole unit on it. I had a lot of fun with the book when we were supposed to recreate a scene from the play and make it more "modern", in other words, make it more funny, something that I excel at. But alas, that story will have to wait for another day, when I don't have anything else to write about. 

Then there is my favorite type of hook, which I've already introduced, but since you probably forget what you read 3 minutes ago, (ok, scroll back up and re read this) I'll explain it some more. This is my favorite type as it confuses everyone, and confusing seems to be what I'm aiming for. You jump the reader right into the action. Typically books and movies will do this by stating something that happens at the end of the story, or right before the great climax. I'm sure you can recall some movies that were like that. Now I will attempt to do that, except that for a whole book, the span of a lifetime, or at least a few years, it will be about just 3 rounds, at the Washington Junior Open. I know that it might seem lame, but if it is, then why are you reading this?

(By the way, if you actually managed to read this huge wall of text, I congratulate you, although not personally. It's so long that I didn't even proofread it. Maybe the reason that no one reads these blogs is because of the long "introductions", which never have anything to do with the actual topic of a chess tournament. But you have read it, and you will regret it...)

For a non-chess player this would be the worst hook. But now I can elaborate on that chess position. It was my position in the 3rd round, which should happen at the end of this essay, and it was the end of my game against Joshua Lewis-Sandy. What move will never cease to amaze me? Find out by scrolling down and skipping half of my blog!

After that really really long introduction, I think I will now stop going back and forward in time, and will go in chronological order, which sure is logical, but not the most exciting way to read something.

How does one prepare for a chess tournament? Let me tell you about my previous day, Sunday January 15th, 2017.

The day before a chess tournament is usually pretty boring. My parents were quite supportive of me playing the next day (that was nice after a chess ban!), so I was allowed to do whatever I wanted to do, which they assumed was being productive and studying chess, and preparing for the event. But that didn't really happen. For one thing, I figured I should study the opening, but I was too nervous that my opponents would have better knowledge of the opening than me, because I never get to understand my openings well enough. So I looked through the "Catalan book", and "Play the French", a book I got just in the last week, a few days before the event. But after an hour or so, I wasn't really interested in studying. So I decided that I would avoid doing anything chess related for the remainder of the day, and instead played the piano for an hour, watched a 2 hour movie, took forever to eat, and talked to my family. So my idea of making the day a chess filled one didn't really happen. For all of you wishing to win tournaments, follow my advice! Don't do anything chess related before the event and you will dominate!

The next day, I woke up at 6:30am, way too early for me usually, but since there was going to be a chess tournament I jumped out of bed, ate breakfast, and then said my goodbyes and left to take the bus at 7:25. After a little more than an hour, at 8:30am, I arrived at Interlake High School. As expected, the playing area was in a separate building nearby, and the skittles room/cafeteria was in the school building. After playing a few blitz games, wishing luck to players except if they played me, the pairings were up. I ran to where the pairings were posted and found Brandon Jiang, who I've played twice before, and his dad said they were looking at the registration sheet and they thought that I would be playing Brandon. I wasn't that surprised, as I thought that the middle of the field was around 1500, and being that I was #4, and Brandon was 1487, Mr. Jiang was correct. I was to play Brandon Jiang on Board 128 as White. For some reason we play a lot in first rounds! (This being our third game together, you can find the other two games here: Me vs. Brandon Jiang

I was fine playing him, although Brandon's always determined and aggressive style made me figure that I should play it safe. That meant that I should play the Catalan. I really wished that I had looked at the Catalan book more! 

Before the game, I took 2 pictures of Brandon Jiang, and he was fine with it. After some meaningless announcements by the tournament directors, (I don't want everybody to show up on time!) the round was supposed to start, and so it did, of course late but not as late as usual. I shook Brandon Jiang's hand, he pushed the clock and I played 1.d4. We entered an opening which is favored by quite a few players in this area, the Catalan! Samuel would be proud, until he sees that I didn't follow the book moves. 

This win was (no offense to Brandon!) pretty straightforward after seeing Ng5, which surprised me because I was concerned that my ban from chess would make me play worse. It probably did, but not that significantly. Like all my other games, this game was decided due to my opponent messing up in time trouble.

Anyways, there were a lot of chess players who were not having a good time. The #3 seeded player Gabriel Tafalla, in fact lost his first game to the evil Joshua Lewis-Sandy! He ended up being a dangerous opponent in this event, you'll read more about him later. 3 other players were also victims to the numerous lower rated players who were determined to win an upset medal and gain rating. The number of draws was also quite high despite the often over 300 point rating difference. Scary, I thought. Would I be next? I didn't want to think about that happening to me, so I didn't. Instead, I found a group of kids in the cafeteria area and decided to give them extra Armageddon odds. It was really nice for them. I had 2 minutes and White, They had 3 minutes, but they would win in a case of a draw. I beat the first 2 players with about 30 seconds to spare against each one. But then came an evil Owen Xuan, rated 1738 USCF and definitely a tough player! We've played bullet on at one tournament, and while I did get 5.5/6 against him, the games were not easy! So I was wondering that maybe we should even the time out, but he didn't want it understandably enough, and then I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this. Well, I couldn't. We entered an incredibly sharp Sicilian, that left us taking too much time, and by the time I queened my pawn I only had 2 seconds left! Knowing that I would for sure not be physically able to checkmate him, I decided to settle for the draw and got rid of his pawns, therefore ending in a draw due to lack of material for him, but since a draw wins for him, he technically won. Oh well. Pretty close! 

The large skittles area where everyone was allowed to be loud.

To my surprise, the next round started only 30 minutes late (Usually each round gets progressively later, first round half an hour, second round 1 hour, and so forth) My opponent was Munkhbileg Munkh-Erdene. I remembered him from the Washington Scholastic and the Washington Class (he played in both), and he was also kind enough to let me borrow his phone to call my parents to pick me up at that same event. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't dealing with a nice person that returns favors, he was playing the evil me. Although, you have to give me some credit, at least I didn't try to talk and confuse him!


After this game not many players had 2 points, in fact only 8 out of the original 42 still had a chance. A chance to be recognized forever as the winner of this prestigious event. An opportunity to be seeded in the Washington State Championship "Premier" (It's not really premier since it's not the top section) A chance to finally succeed at life and chess. These last 8 were, of course me, and also Benjamin Mukumbya, who visited from Uganda I believe, and was 1901 FIDE and over 2400 (!) northwest before this tournament, Eric Zhang (2028), Andreas Farny (1785), Joshua Lewis-Sandy (1494), Daniel Shubin (1767), Thomas Taylor (1625), and the extremely surprising Aakash Banjeri, who was rated only 1076 going into this tournament! Major upsets this round? Joshua Lewis-Sandy (1496) decided that upsetting one player wasn't good enough, so he went out and beat Andrea Botez (1792). Meanwhile Aakash, fresh off beating Joseph Levine (1590), also beat Anne-Marie Velea (1652). Some pretty underrated players, or maybe, as others would complain, it was either "luck" (in other words their fault but they won't admit it), or the time control. Many players weren't happy with the time control, and that includes the winners. But not me. I wished the tournament was faster as all my wins happened because of my massive time advantages. My next game is a perfect example.

So I decided I should go find the pairings and find out who I'd play. Unfortunately, there were a dozen players surrounding the pairings sheet. So I decided to use my rights as a high rated player. (This is practically the only event that I can do that at) "Hi everyone! I am higher rated so you have to respect me and let me through so I can see who I'm playing. There is a hierarchy system in chess, and the higher rated you get, the more privileges you get. So let me through!" 

Did that work? You can probably guess: No. But I found another set of pairings inside the playing area, and luckily no one was hovering over the pairings there (expect me, exercising my rights as a high-rated player) so I could find out what would happen.

I was paired against Joshua Lewis-Sandy.

I'd beaten him once before, and you can find that game here. However, here he was having the tournament of his life, having beaten a 1892 and a 1792 as previously mentioned, but since I don't have much to say I have to keep repeating myself over and over again.

But what if I was next? I should have been. What I said earlier about luck isn't fair. My next game is arguably the most lucky game in tournament chess that I have ever played, and the most lucky in this tournament by far (except the scholastic events, where you are lucky if kings are still on the board after 10 moves, being that many players exchange it for a queen). I know everyone says that their most recent games are their most lucky ones, and I am no different from them and so I'm saying it too. Here was the start of the game. (Like Game 2, I didn't record once I got in extreme time pressure, I wanted to keep the pressure on him!)


I did stop notating, but since there aren't many pieces left on the board I remember what the position was like. (It's the same position shown at the start of the blog, remember my idea of getting you right in the action, and starting out right toward the end?


So, do you call that luck? If you don't well then you must think that I am a good chess player (not). So how did the other games finish? There was one draw, between Daniel Shubin and Benjamin Mukumbya, wiping both of them out of contention for the coveted first place. Andreas Farny and Eric Zhang, who were higher rated for once actually won! So that left me and Eric Zhang, the top seed, as the final two. Andreas Farny would play the 1901 FIDE rated player, who was sure to give him some trouble.

The important match up that every player expected to occur was on. Joseph Truelson vs. Eric Zhang. We quickly looked at each other, and remembered in horror the last time we had played... My First game against Eric Zhang 

Was he ready for another Grandmaster Draw? I offered him 5 draws, if he accepted all of them then we would have won with 5.5, because of all the points from the draws. However, he didn't realize that strategy, and instead declined all of them.

Instead, he thought:

"I am going to beat that Joseph, and show him who's the best!"