My Final Tournament Of 2022

My Final Tournament Of 2022

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Hello there. Welcome to the Lightning Reports! Last weekend, on December 17th, I competed in a local otb tournament. I wasn't going to at first, but then I was told an NM would be there, so I figured I'd play as well to try to beat the NM. Yes, I knew it wouldn't be an ideal tournament for me to play in, as I was the second highest-rated player, meaning my rating is in big danger playing against anyone other than the NM, but I wanted to play again. It was time. It was a good chance for me to shake off any potential rust before my next big event. And of course, if I win all four games, I earn a solid 30 points or so. Seems legit to me. So, how did I do? Read on to find out!


As much as I would love to type out every single relevant detail about this tournament, which would surely be oh so very difficult, I think I'll just share the flyer. Yeah, that'll do.

Not bad. Key things to notice: The time control is G/60; d5. Nowadays, that isn't much time for me. Another thing to notice is the sections. I played in the Premiere section, which was open to anyone rated above 1600. Definitely not ideal. I knew in advance I'd have to play some players rated 400-500 points lower than me. Just don't lose, just don't lose...


In round one I was paired with Saharsh Santosh, a 1745-rated player from Georgia who I had never faced before. I had enough time before the game to check out his USCF tournament history... the kid is 11 years old and rated above 1700. Playing kids is always scary given their more raw potential. Oh, and 6 months ago his rating was below 1000. So, yeah, this is a potentially dangerous opponent here. I of course knew better than to underestimate him.

So it wasn't my best game. That's fine. Despite nearly blowing it in the end - it would have been very difficult to win if he finds 39...Be7 - I still got the dub. He put up one heck of a fight for sure. He actually played pretty quickly, and it was I who was under time pressure in this game! If he had slowed down just a bit, who knows what would have happened... as it is, I'll take the win and start the tournament off strong with a 1/1 score.


In round two I was paired with Michael Porcelli, a 1961-rated player who actually beat me quite convincingly the last time we played. So he is fully capable of beating me. Heading into this game, my record against him otb is just 2-2. All of our games seem to get complicated right out of the opening. If you know me, you know I like complicated, messy games. But so does he. So my plan for this game was to not let it get complicated. Keep things solid, limit his tactical chances, and outplay him. 

So, uh, it wasn't looking good after 11... Qc6. My goal was to keep things solid, not to be losing after 11 moves of play. Fortunately, it all worked out, and we had what I thought was an easy middlegame for me to play. He still tried to complicate things and get an attack going, but my position was too solid for me to be in any real danger unless I blundered. In the end. I managed to outplay him and get the dub. Not my best game, again, but I'll take it as I improve to a 2/2 score.


Alright. Round 3. This is it. A chance to steal rating from an NM. I'm playing NM Yury Barnakov, against whom I have a terrible 1-5-2 record. One win, 5 losses, two draws. Not great huh. He's quite a strong player, but even still I felt like I could at least get a draw against him as white. My main issue is he plays so many different openings that it's impossible to know what to expect. Not ideal at all.

Well. That sucked. Just a terrible, terrible game by me. I should have known better than to try taking the a7 pawn early on, that was dumb. And then playing g4 not long after that was really dumb. But really, if only I hadn't taken the a7 pawn.... sigh. It was honestly arrogant of me to believe I could do so and get away with it against a much stronger player. I won't be quick to do that again. Very disappointing in what was yet another loss to an NM this year.


Man, I felt like I was reeling here. I started with two wins where I didn't play all that well and then was demolished in round 3. I didn't have much time to process my loss either, the break in between games was rather short. Normally I would talk to a friend or my club about the loss because it honestly helps me process it, but I don't have any friends who care to hear about it, and my club doesn't do anything but troll. So I did what I used to always do... I pushed my emotions deep deep down. I did my best to avoid thinking about that loss. Forget about it, it doesn't matter now. Because I can't be feeling down while playing my final game. If you're beating yourself up for a loss during a chess game, chances are you'll just take another loss. Don't do that lol

In round four I had the misfortune of being paired with 1638-rated Cody Smith, who you might know as Chess_Lad on twitch (he analyzed our game on his stream the other day, go watch the vod if interested - start it around the 3:30:00 mark of the vod). Anyway, I'm very unhappy with this pairing. I mean Cody is cool and all, but like... he's a 1600, which means I stand to gain nothing by beating him, and could lose everything if he beats me. Even a draw would hurt me. But I had a plan for this game and I stuck to it... similar to my game in round 2, my goal was to keep things solid and easy for me to play, and don't give my opponent any chances.

Yikes. I mean, yay, I won. But yikes. I nearly turned a two-pawn advantage into a draw... and I missed what probably would have been a game-winning Nxf2 tactic earlier in the game. Twice. But ok, my plan worked, I kept it solid, limited what he could do, made it easy for me to play, and despite blundering into an even endgame, later on, it worked out well for me.


This is a valid question... was it worth it? Was it worth playing? I gained only two rating points, improving my rating to 2127. While every point matters on one's journey to NM, two points simply aren't much, but it's better than nothing. I also won $87.50 by tying for 2nd place. Subtract the $45 entry fee I had to pay, and I made $42.50. Again, not much, but better than nothing.

While I would have loved to win the event and gain a solid 30 points, I also just wanted to shake off some rust before my next big event in January. I can't afford to be rusty in January, and I definitely can't afford to play as I did in this tournament in January. And of course, it was nice to go play otb chess again after a 3-month break. And I still picked up a couple of points and some money. So yes, of course it was worth it! I didn't lose anything by competing in this event. 


As far as my Journey to NM goes, I've been stuck between 2100 and 2142 since August 2021. Surely I'm due for a big tournament soon, surely I'm close to breaking through and reaching a new peak. But where will it happen? Perhaps my luck will finally change for the better in Charlotte next month...

Unless something ridiculous happens, I'll be playing in the 2023 Charlotte Open. And based on the tournament pre-entries, I'm gonna get demolished. I'll be one of the lowest-rated players there in the top section. And that's perfect. I'm near the top of every tournament in Alabama, so a chance to be near the bottom in Charlotte sounds perfect to me! Even just a 2/6 score should get me a handful of points, and maybe even a new peak rating. We'll see what happens...


Starting the year rated 2104, there was plenty of potential for a run to NM. Ending the year rated 2127, I can safely conclude my expectations were far too high this year. While I didn't gain a ton of points this year, I think 2022 was a good year of chess for me. In February I won the Queen of Hearts tournament, in march I won Alabama's highschool championship, and I got to compete in the 2022 Denker... I had a nice year. There was potential for it to be sooo much better, but I got in my own way. I do believe that, despite my rating barely improving this year, I am definitely a better player now than I was a year ago. I feel like I've improved. Maybe I haven't really, but I feel like I have. I've gained a lot of confidence for some reason, too, which I believe has helped me in games against lower-rated players. I would confidently say I am a better overall player now than I was a year ago. No. I'm not an NM yet, and I've still got 73 points to go. But I'm making progress. slowly, but surely.

I did reach a new peak rating this year at 2142. That was back in May. I'm now 15 points away from my peak, which is nice, I'm glad I'm close to my peak rather than far away from it. I just have to do what has been tough for me lately to pass my peak: Gain rating points. But while I haven't been able to gain many points, I also haven't been losing points. I've struggled to beat those who are better than me, but I've gotten really good at winning the games I'm supposed to win. And it shows in my overall record this year.

In the 66 games I played this year, (the most I've ever played in a year btw - 54 was previously the most I had played in a year), my record is 37 wins, 13 draws, and 16 losses. 37 wins last year, that's the most I've ever had in a year. Previously I had never won more than 23 games in a year. 16 losses, that is, unfortunately, a new high, but barely. Of the 16 losses I took, 12 came against titled players. I only managed to win two games against titled players rated above 2200. That's gonna have to change in 2023. I'm working on it - I just hope results will follow.


Good job, you made it to the end. What a great achievement that is. Thanks for reading! I truly hope you enjoyed your time here. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share whatever it is you wanna share. 

These are all subject to change at any given moment

As seen in the image above, I have all my blogs planned out through May. But that could change at any moment. I may even add to it if I find myself playing in more otb events than expected, or if something happens in the broader world of chess that I simply must write about. We'll see. For now, expect monthly posts mostly dedicated to my lil otb adventures.

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