What Have I Been Up To?
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What Have I Been Up To?

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Hello there, welcome to the Lightning Reports! It’s been a hot minute since you’ve heard from me. For most of this year, I’ve posted twice a month, but it has now been over a month since my last post. And my last post was the only blog I posted in October. I haven’t put much time into writing for the past couple of months. However, I still want to post a blog at least once per month, so here I am, posting my November blog on the last possible day. Yay, go me. Anyway, I’ll be sharing what I’ve been up to - and why I haven’t put much time into blogging recently. So… chess-wise, what have I been up to?


I’ve been putting a lot of time into improving at chess. More than I have in a while. I am determined to become a National Master in 2023. I’m currently on a break from otb chess, and I want to be better than ever before when I compete again. Why? Well, you see… let me tell you what went wrong in September.

Click to see Alabama State Championship blog

September was not a good month for me. It was rather miserable when it comes to chess. First, I started the month by blowing it in the 2022 Alabama State Championship. September 4th… that’s the day I wasn’t good enough to win it all, failing yet again in the last round. I won’t lie, that last round loss affected me worse than I admitted. I didn’t take the loss very well at all. I had a chance to become the state champion. Instead, I got embarrassed on board 1 within an hour, my opponent scarcely using any time. It was yet another reminder that I’m not yet good enough at the one thing I know I’m good at. 

But hey, it’s ok, surely I bounced back in my next tournament… right? Yeah. About that. September 24th was also a miserable day. That is when I most recently played otb. It has been 2 months now, which is a long time for me. I haven’t played recently because Alabama chess is mostly dead from October-January, and in the few tournaments we have this time of the year, nobody my strength shows up, so neither do I. Regardless… that tournament on the 24th showed me I needed a break. I played terrible, dreadful, abysmal chess that day. And I had no idea why.  I should have gotten 1/4 in the tournament and lost a bunch of rating points. I mean just look at these games… (don't mind the annotations from 2 months ago, I put little effort into them lol)

Pretty rough round 1 game. I tried a new line, confidently, for the first time, and it backfired tremendously. After he played Nc6 I wasn't sure what to do, having no experience in that line. That was a poor decision on my part, I won't make the same mistake again. Next time I try a new line, I'll have more prep ready. Anyway, I'm sure round 2 went better- nope, nope, I'm playing NM Alexander Rutten again. 

I did better in this game against Rutten than I did in my game against Rutten at State. But then I lost my mind on move 24, ultimately leading to me losing material, which is kinda sorta bad against an NM. Luckily, I got to face a Sicilian in round 3, and no matter how badly I'm playing, I always seem to play well against the Sicilian. 

Ok, I'm actually pretty happy with that game lol that went very well. I'm sure I followed up with a well-played game in round 4. There's no way I played terrible chess and fluked my way to a victory, right? 

I don't know how I won that, but I'll take it. Lucky me lol

Overall. For an aspiring NM, those were horrible games. I felt awful about it. I always feel awful after a bad game or tournament - it sucks to fail at the one thing I’m good at. And that's why I take some of these losses so hard. So I took a break from otb chess (not that I had a choice since there was nowhere I could reasonably play anyway), and I’ve been putting in more time than I have in a while as I seek to improve my opening repertoire, positional play, tactical vision, endgame knowledge, and a few things psychologically as well.

It sucks to fail at the one thing I'm good at.

-Lightning 2022

In the end, despite how miserable September was for chess, it simply gives me more motivation, more of a thirst to prove to myself and others that I can breakthrough and meet my goal. I'm gonna do it, eventually. I'll never give up on my goal, I'll keep chasing it. I am more determined than ever before to make progress and gain rating whenever I get another chance. Once I do that, you’ll get another J2NM post. And hopefully, by the end of 2023, you’ll see that fancy schmancy NM title by my name.


On October 1st, 2022, Season 1 of BlogChamps began. What is BlogChamps, you wonder? In short, it is a blogging competition open to anyone who wants to write, and it is a place where aspiring bloggers can pick up tips from Top Bloggers and learn from one another. I created the competition to help other bloggers on their path to becoming a Top Blogger. My way of giving back to the community, I suppose. I was given an audience for my blogs, now I help others try to receive an audience as well. It’s a great community. Blogger or not, it’s worth joining.

Click image to view the club

Running this competition hasn’t taken up as much time as people would think, but it does cut into my free time that would normally be devoted to writing, as I’ve thoroughly read and judged many, many blogs and given feedback to any participants asking for it. We’re nearing the end of Season 1 as the competition has been narrowed down to two participants (@Fire and @SheldonOfOsaka - go check out their blogs!). Season 2 of BlogChamps should begin in January. Assuming nothing awful happens, this competition is here to stay, and I’ll help run it for as long as I reasonably can.


People often ask why I didn’t go to college. Some have suggested I am a failure for not going to college. So why didn't I go? I’ll answer here - I did not go to college because there is nothing I want to do in life that requires college. Could I have chosen to spend several miserable years in college while likely going into debt, just as most of my peers chose to do? Sure. That would be the safer, more secure path. But I would have been unhappy. I don’t want to live an unhappy life if possible. So, what did I do? I found an alternative. My plan is to coach chess full-time. 

Click image to read about how to become an official coach

I’ve been coaching chess since 2019 and I quite enjoy it. It’s an unusual career path, chess coaching, but I am going to make it work. I won't go into any details, but I have become busier with coaching over the past couple of months, which has further limited my free time. And that’s cool with me. I’m always accepting new students, and if that costs me my free time, I’m absolutely cool with that. But hey, I’ll always find time to post blogs and keep you guys updated. And to the few good irl friends I have who are reading this, no matter how busy I get in the future, I will always, always make time for you


I plan to continue posting at least once per month in 2023, but that’s about it. I won’t be writing as much next year while I focus on other, more important things. Writing these blogs is something I do for fun and nothing more. Unfortunately, it can’t be a priority for me long-term.

I will continue to compete in otb tournaments in 2023, of course. NM by the end of 2023, that's the goal. I hope to play in Charlotte in January, Chicago in May, Vegas in June, maybe Michigan in August, and who knows where else. Do well in those events and I'll meet my goal for sure. Also, I don't intend to play in many tournaments in Alabama until I meet my goal, because now when I play here, most of the time, I'm playing to not lose points rather than playing to gain points.

I will, of course, continue coaching in 2023, I'm always accepting new students! Moving forward, this is what will take up the majority of my time, by far. It's my job, after all.

Some people have asked about my Twitch stream... I will start streaming again in January, probably just once a week. If you're interested in that and would like to be notified when I start streaming on Twitch again, you could join my club or follow my twitch channel. If you dare.


Good job, you made it to the end. For those of you who didn’t actually read this blog, here is a tl;dr version: I’ve been putting a lot of time into improving at chess, running a blogging competition, and coaching. This has cut into my free time quite a bit, which is why I am no longer devoting much time to blogging. I blog for fun in my free time, so the less free time I have, the less I write. I plan to keep blogging, competing, coaching, and even streaming in 2023.

I don't have a lot currently planned. Whatever happens, you can still expect at least one blog per month

Ok, one last thing. I’m not trying to say I’m super ridiculously busy or anything. Compared to others, I’ve got it easy - I do still have my free time. Yes, I am somewhat busy with chess training and coaching. And yes, I'm busy with some other things in life that aren't chess-related. Shocking as it is, I don’t want my life to be 100% chess. Anyway, while I am busy with stuff, I'm not that busy just yet, nor do I claim to be any busier than others. I remain active on I'm not going anywhere just yet.

Ok, that's all lol thanks for reading, I truly hope you enjoyed your time here. Cya in the comments!