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2023 Charlotte Open
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2023 Charlotte Open

Lightning
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Hello there, welcome to the Lightning Reports! Last week I played in the 2023 Charlotte Open to compete against much stronger players and attempt to steal their rating points. Going into the event I am rated 2127 USCF, and I have been stuck for about a year and a half now. As I stated in my previous blog… NM by the end of 2023. That’s it. That’s the goal. And a strong showing in Charlotte would help quite a bit. So… how’d I do? Read on to find out. Or not. Up to you.


ROUND ONE


So for some quick context. I decided to play the 2-Day schedule rather than the 3-Day schedule, which means the time control for the first 3 rounds is G30+5. 30 minute games… not a lot of time for me because nowadays, aside from the opening, I'm slow as heck. But it’ll be fun, and hey maybe I’ll flag someone lol

For round 1 I thought I was going to be paired with the lowest-rated player in the event… ha, no. I got paired with the highest-rated player instead. GM Lazaro Batista, rated 2681. He seems like a decent chess player. 

Welp. That’s to be expected. I felt good about the game after, honestly. I felt like I did ok there - given that he had 20 seconds, it was very possible for me to hold that endgame to a draw. Well, that’s what I felt like at least, but realistically he’s just gonna win that anyway… I tried lol


ROUND TWO


Heading into round 2, I’m comforted by the fact that I’ll play someone a bit closer to me in rating. This will be a much more realistically winnable game. I mean, the next dude I had to play was rated 2110, so we should be fairly evenly matched. But. I had just watched him draw a 2500 in the first round, and I thought he should have won that as well. With that in mind, I’m a little concerned… but I should be fine, right? It’s not like I’m gonna screw up basic opening theory. I would never do that. 

Yeah, so I screwed up the opening. Lol I put the knight on b3 instead of putting the bishop on b3, which loses me a bishop for a knight, which I really should not allow to happen in such a position. Impressive, I know. Anyway, I was immediately worse after Nb3, and I blundered a pawn a few moves later. My opponent inexplicably blundered it back immediately though and we drew. No harm done. I’m sure I won’t regret not winning this game.


ROUND THREE


Ahhh I didn’t lose round 2, so there’s no way I could possibly get a bye. That was part of why I didn’t try pushing for a win in a drawn position last round. I knew a loss would get me a bye and a draw should save me from that fate. 

Ooh, the pairings are out!

Huh, where am I?

Uhhh why is my name at the bottom…?

Uhhh and why does it say my opponent’s name is BYE…?

Shoot. How the heck did I actually get a stupid bye? Seriously?? I was rather confused, because someone else had 0.5/2 as I did, and he was lower rated than I, so why didn’t he get the bye? I dunno man. As you might have noticed, I was extremely unhappy with getting a full-point bye. What the heck even is a bye anyway?! I thought it was another mythical unknown opponent like NN. Turns out it’s just the TDs way of saying you don’t get to play chess. But I wanna play. I came to Charlotte to play. I don’t want a stinking bye, let me earn a win on the board. But OK, it’s fine, I eventually, bitterly accepted my fate. It is a free point I guess… 


ROUND FOUR


As difficult as it was, I managed to survive my round 3 bye. Which you should all be very impressed with. I hope you're all proud of me. Anyway, I now have a very much undeserved 1.5/3 score. But… I also now I get to play an IM. On a dgt board. Which is actually very cool and I was pretty excited about that. https://www.chess.com/events/2023-charlotte-open/04/Snow_Zachary-Ippolito_Dean

With my game being played on a dgt board, it was broadcast on chess.com, so some of you already know what happened… 

Yeah. So. I just did that. I can explain. When I played a3 after 28 minutes of thinking, I had already concluded two things. 1, I can’t stop b4, so he will either end up with a more active rook or a more active knight, leading to an endgame he will just grind out and win. Looked boring and miserable. And 2, my chances are better if I sac the knight and hope my passed pawns can compensate for the knight later on. Against a lesser player it might have honestly worked, but credit to the IM, he handled it very well and played very accurately, much to my disappointment. I have no regrets about what I did… well, except for the fact I lost. That was pretty regrettable. Ok so maybe I shouldn't have done that... 

This is how I imagine everyone watching the game reacted when I played a3, Nxb5, and Nxc7 lol

ROUND FIVE


Alright, well, 1.5/4 isn’t bad. But I’m still in denial about the bye so in my mind I only have 0.5/3. Given who I’ve played, there’s no shame in that… but I want a win today. In round 5 I was paired with a fellow 2100. He was a few points higher than me. I played him 5 years ago when we were 1600s and we drew. I remembered thinking I should have won that game and I was annoyed by that. Aha, added motivation. Don’t worry, 2018 me, I’ll totally avenge you. Totally. 

Oh. Well. That was trash. I played terrible chess in this game. And I honestly had no idea. I didn’t think the game was that bad… it was a little messy I guess. I couldn’t tell who was better for most of the game. Apparently I was just worse for most of it. Lol oops. I even thought I was gonna win that at the end, but he defended everything too well. I’m just glad I had enough sense in me to take the draw instead of pushing for a win because I absolutely would have ended up losing that.


ROUND SIX


Well, here we are again! It seems to always, and I do mean always, come down to the last round for me. Will I win, gain rating, and have what I would deem to be an overall successful tournament? Or will I once again suffer a last-round defeat, resulting in rating loss and disappointment? Who knows… I’ll tell you this though, I didn’t lack confidence. I don’t know where my confidence has come from, cause even a year or so ago I had no confidence whatsoever. But here I am, paired against a 2200, and I’m seriously thinking this is a game I should win. I’ve played some terrible chess, I’m playing on 3 hours of sleep, and I have not won any games in the entire event… no problem. I got this. I mean, it’s not as if I’m about to have a winless tournament for the first time. 

Crap. That hurts. It always hurts. I always find a way to lose that last round game… but this may be a new low. I simply lost my mind. I can’t remember the last time I blundered that badly. Oh, the misery… I’d like to say, after looking through it with the computer, that I should have won that. But I can’t, really. I had no idea I was actually winning at any point in that game. I knew I had real, legitimate chances, but it always seemed messy. I never found an obvious path to victory. You might look at that game and tell me I did miss an easy win… I dunno. I didn’t find it, nor did my opponent. Neither of us knew what the heck was happening in that game. And honestly… that made it fun. Which made the loss a lot easier to take. It was a really fun game to play. And my opponent was super super nice about it after. Much respect to him. I just wish he hadn’t taken the free bishop!


FINAL THOUGHTS


I won’t lie, that was rough. I had a sucky event. I went to Charlotte knowing the competition would be stacked, knowing I’d play some titled players, and knowing 2/6 was a very probable score. But I thought I’d win a game or two, not go winless. I didn’t anticipate finishing with 0 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses, and 1 bye. Looking at it that way, this was terrible… but my losses were all against titled players. A 2127-rated player losing to a GM, IM, NM, and drawing two other 2100s? That’s not bad. Not at all. Those are respectable losses and draws. Not a bad event in that sense. It was just extremely disappointing. But even still, I’m glad I played. I had a good time competing in Charlotte, I gained valuable experience playing those titled players - I don’t play for the experience, but this is something I really can learn from. I definitely don’t get to play GMs in Alabama lol

Idk who took this photo, there were several ppl taking photos for the Charlotte Chess Center. So uh credit to them for this image of me in round 1 trying to remember my opponent's name (yes that's actually what I was thinking about when that pic was taken... I couldn't remember his name lol)

I feel like I’m so close to putting it all together… it’s right there, within my grasp. I’m going to break through eventually, I’m sure of it. But for now, I am still stuck. I lost 11 rating points in Charlotte and dropped my rating down to 2116. Disappointing. But it was worth it. And hey, this was at least better than my first trip to Charlotte a couple of years ago… but that’s a story for another day.


JOURNEY TO NM - WHAT'S NEXT?


The otb chess grind continues as I look to recoup some rating. I’ll play again in two weeks in Alabama. I’m pretty sure our top 2 players will both be there, so I should have a chance to steal some rating. Or I could tank my rating. We’ll see how it goes. After that, I’m not sure when I’ll play again. Might not be until April, so hopefully, this next tournament goes well. It sure did last year…


MY ENCOUNTER WITH ERIC ROSEN


Oh, right. I played in the blitz tournament in Charlotte as well. That was fun. I scored my only wins of the weekend in the blitz tournament! I played some cool people. But none cooler than IM Eric Rosen, who I played in round 1. I also played Rosen in round 1 of the 2021 Chicago Open blitz tournament, and I actually did beat him in one of those two games. But back then, when I told my club about it, they yelled at me for not asking for a picture. I played someone famous and didn’t ask for a picture? Wow, I'm so lame. Well, I remembered that… and this time, I delivered. This encounter didn’t go down exactly like I’m about to say it did, but let’s imagine it… tis storytime!


*At the board*

Me: “Hey would it be ok if we took a pic after the game? I’m a blogger on chess.com and I’m sort of recapping this event and thought my viewers would like a pic if that’s ok.” 


Eric Rosen: “Sure (Tbh I have no idea what he actually said, I was nervous. But his answer was some form of yes.)” 


Me: No clue what I said next, but I said something.


Eric Rosen: I think he also said something in response to me saying something.


There may have been more that was said. I don't remember. I was trying to figure out how to even take a pic after the game without being cringe. I was also trying to figure out if I truly had the bravery and courage to play a certain opening against him. I was nervous, but...  *game starts* 


1. e4 c5 2. Ke2 *laughing nervously* “Sorry… I was dared”
Eric Rosen: *laughs, proceeds to mercilessly destroy me*

After the game. Eric Rosen: “Did you lose a bet or something?”

Me: "Nah. It’s just that I told my club I was gonna play you and they all told me to play the bongcloud for the memes. So I did, for the memes."

Again, not everything I said that was said in that encounter was actually said like that. Lots of guessing, because I really can't remember exactly how that went. Anyway. Yes, more was said. I think I tried to justify playing the bongcloud by saying I didn’t really care about blitz results (which is true… me playing the bongcloud in otb blitz isn’t exactly uncommon) and that I was just there to have fun. He also said something at some point about how he was gonna stream his blitz games but forgot something and couldn’t. Which is fortunate for me, because the game got ugly really quickly. Lucky me.

Anyway. Not too long after the game, I did get that pic with him, sooo here you go. 

Kindly ignore the dorky look on my face. And also the height difference. And pretty much everything else. Focus on Rosen, he cool.

Thanks so much to Eric Rosen for even agreeing to take this pic with some awkward 2100 from Alabama. I’d like to think I wasn’t that awkward but I’m sure it was weird. He was chill about it tho. He humored me as I dared play the bongcloud against him. He showed no mercy. He took the picture and the point. Twas fun, thanks a lot, Eric! 


THE "GOOD JOB, YOU MADE IT TO THE END" PART OF THE BLOG


Good job, you made it to the end. Dunno how you managed to do that. Thanks for reading! I truly hope you enjoyed your time here. Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Yes, most of my future posts are just tournament recaps, sorry lol

As seen in the image above, I have my next few blogs planned out still. I got that otb recap in a couple of weeks, and I’ll try to get Questioning NCPs Part 4 out in March. Then otb recaps in April and in May. And maybe at some point, I’ll just write about whatever, simply because I feel like it. We’ll see what happens in the world of chess.

Once again, thanks for reading, I appreciate it, and I truly hope you enjoyed your time here. I’ll cya in the comments!

Welcome to the Lightning Reports! I post tournament recaps, previews and reviews for big tournaments, and I also started the Questioning Non-Chess Players thing. Good stuff, yep.