My Return to OTB Chess
Yayyy the goofy thumbnails return

My Return to OTB Chess

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Hello there, welcome to the Lightning Reports! It's been a minute since you last heard from me. Now, as some of you following my journey know, I am doing my best to avoid playing in local Alabama tournaments, cause they aren't ideal for me. I either play a bunch of players lower rated than myself and try my best to avoid losing rating, or I play the 2300 here who is simply clearly better than me and I'm likely to lose more often than not against him (and even if I steal some points from him, I eventually do lose to a lower rated and that undoes any progress I made). That tends to be how that goes. And all that is to say... I haven't managed to play otb in 3 months.

However, despite all that... I'll hopefully be playing in an excellent event at the end of this month, and I really really really don't want to be rusty for it... so I decided it was best just to go out and play in a local tournament last weekend to shake off any rust. It's a practice tournament. A warmup, if you will. I just want 3/4 and not to lose rating points, and I'll be happy. I'm not going crazy just trying to gain rating, I'll just play chess and have fun and warm up for what's coming at the end of the month. No pressure, just play chess. Now, without further ado, let's see the games 😁


  • 22 players in my section, including myself, all above 1600. I am the second-highest-rated player here.
  • 4 rounds, time control is 60 minutes with a 5 second delay.
  • If I win all my games... maybe I'll gain 30 rating points. Probably still less than that. One loss likely means no rating gain.
  • The goal is 3/4, shake off the rust, and I'll be content.


Alright, here we go. Round one. Based on the entry list I looked at beforehand, I figured I was playing one of the many 1900s here... but which one, I wondered? I wasn't too sure, but oddly enough I wasn't really concerned. I was just chilling, hanging out before the round one pairings were out. Then suddenly I hear that I am playing a 1921-rated player who I seem to keep getting paired with for absolutely no reason. Sorry about that, Sammy.

Wow. I can't tell you how surreal that one was, being down thirty minutes and having to blitz out that endgame while my opponent had plenty of time to figure it out, and eventually with what seemed like a large crowd of people watching us blitz it out in the end. It was intense. It was fun. And it was such a relief when I somehow managed to steal a victory there. I also felt bad, because... that's just a brutal way to lose, and my opponent absolutely deserved a draw at the very least. Honestly, that's how chess is sometimes. And I know many of you have had rough losses like that. I have, too. Speaking from experience, it's best not to dwell on it too much, and if possible, use it as motivation. Heartbreaking losses happen, sadly (Chicago Open 2021, Round 6, I will never forget...) That's just how it goes. Don't beat yourself up over it, take it and learn from it, figure out why it happened, and do your best to not allow it to happen again.


Ok, close call in the first game, now I head into round two and I am feeling rather uneasy. The one player here who is higher rated than me... lost the first round. This all but ensures that I will only be playing people lower rated than me here. I am now the top seed in a tournament that looks to be full of upsets. And the fact that I was then paired with someone who has always given me a good game, someone who can play well above his rating, someone who was the strongest threat to defeat me every year in Alabama's highschool championship... someone who I swindled last we met, all that did NOT put me at ease whatsoever. But hey, I'm just here to shake off the rust and play some chess. What could go wrong...

Crap. Just... crap. I knew I'd pay for my luck in round one, but I didn't think it'd happen by me throwing away a better position in time pressure in the very next game. That was rough. I was outplaying him... until time pressure really kicked in, and he handled it better. Not much to say, he got me there. Gg, Will, fun as always.

As a side note here, my opponent did end up with 3.5/4, and a win over a 2200 the very next round, and jumped up to 2032, so congrats to him for being an expert again lol


Well alrighty then, I took an early loss. That wasn't exactly expected. I feel terrible for losing that, and now I have no idea who I will play in round 3 (generally I can predict such things). I do know that I was... a little scared. Another loss could mean I drop below 2100. And of all the things I've accomplished in my chess career, I'm quite proud that I have sustained my 2100+ rating for two years now. I dunno how, but I have. The idea of dropping below 2100... after two years... yeah that made me anxious. And when I saw my next opponent was another young, up-and-coming talented player, rated around 1850, that didn't exactly help 😅

Hey, there we go! That's more like it. After ridiculous time trouble in the first two games, only using 24 minutes felt great. Oh and the game itself went surprisingly smoothly. Imagine getting caught daydreaming during a chess game, blitzing out a move you think was bad, but that moves leads you to a winning position. Lucky me I guess lol

As a side note, my opponent just made his way up to 1900. Seems to be on his way up... congrats to him!


Well, it certainly hasn't been pretty so far. In fact, it's been pretty rough. But it was nice to have an actual break after round 3. Given how long my first two games took, I didn't really get much of a break. Round two basically started right after round one, and then after round two I just had time to eat and then it was onto round three. But now I get a solid hour to just... chill out. Calm down. Ya know, that sorta thing. It was nice. by the time round four pairings came out, I was feelin pretty chill again, just ready to play one more game of chess. This was probably the least tired I've been for a round four game in years. Which is good, because now I'm up against a strong 2000, who was 2100 not long ago, who won Alabama's state championship in 2021. We drew last time we played. Strong opponent, no doubt. Surely I'll play well!! Definitely, right?


So. I... didn't play well. I miscalculated early on, missed an idea of his, and had to fight back for a chance. It worked out well in the end. I gave my opponent every chance to mess it up that I possibly could. For a while he played very very well, refusing to mess up, always finding the right moves. But we're human. We all mess up eventually. And once my opponent finally made a mistake, I capitalized and never looked back. Except for that one move where I dropped a pawn for no reason. RIP pawn. But it was fine. Can't say I'm happy with my play overall, but I can't complain. Good to know, at the very least, that I can still swindle such strong players. Gg man.


Well, it certainly wasn't a smooth ride, and this was nowhere near my best performance. But I got 3/4, and even gained 2 rating points to bring my rating back up to 2120. I even won prize money to cover the entry fee. So I really can't complain. I'm content. I did what I wanted to do, I shook off some rust, and got in some good practice before my next event... and despite what looked like poorly played games, I think at the end of the day I played just fine, and I'm sure I'll play better next time. All things considered, I'm happy. Can't complain. Hopefully I'll be ready for my next tournament.


Good job, you made it to the end. What an accomplishment. You should be proud. Anywho, thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed your time here. My next post will hopefully be in early August, another otb recap. Then you can expect another one a month later, in early September.

I'm not currently interested in writing about other topics, so you won't see much variety from me for the next couple of months... right now my extra time is going toward my otb chess adventures. And I hope that soon enough, for the first time in two years... I can finally have that breakthrough tournament I've been waiting for. Anywho, once again, thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, and I shall see you in the comments!