Lightning Reports - 2021 Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship
My pitiful first attempt at making a thumbnail on my own. Eh not too bad for my first try I guess, but oof.

Lightning Reports - 2021 Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship

| 39

Yo wassup guys! Last weekend I played in the Alabama Sate Scholastic Chess Championship, in the Highschool section, and since nobody asked, I'm posting about it. Here's some context. This years edition of the event was very different, as it was held online.... on I won this very tournament as a Freshman in 2019, which is how I earned the honor of representing Alabama at the Denker Tournament of Highschool Champions! We did not have this event last year due to covid, so I kind of considered myself the reigning champion. That, and the fact I was the highest rated in the event, meant I had a huge target on my back, and I felt it. Unlike in previous events, the winner of this year's championship would not get the nomination to go to the Denker. Instead the top performers, presumably top 4 or 5, will get invited to a playoff to determine who goes. Therefore I literally did not give a crap about winning the event, I merely wanted a top 4 finish. So. How did I do? Let's see.

I woke up at 8 am for this event on a Saturday. That meant I was sleepy and groggy. What was my plan to overcome this? Coffee, duh. The first round was set to start at 10 am. I was nervous, looking at the playing field seeing no easy win, everyone would give me a tough game it seemed. I was then paired with a 1560 uscf, and I'll be honest... I was so freaking confident. I was already looking ahead to the next round, wondering who I would have to play. Terrible mentality to have, guys. One game at a time. One.

On the bright side, she later drew a 1970 and a 1680, who is at least 1900 strength anyway. The loss sucks but I deserved it, I was over-confident and she played very well.

Onto round 2. I'm depressed of course, and a bit angry at myself for being so stupid. After talking to my coach I shook it off and went to that one game at a time mentality. The 1600 I played was toast.

I felt pretty good about that one tbh. A nice bounce back win after that awful round 1 loss. I knew I was still in it, that I could bounce back. 

Round 3 was next, and I find myself only a half point back from first place! That's how tough this event is. I lost my first game and, one win later, am already right behind the leaders! My round 3 opponent had beaten me otb before , in one of the other very few instances where I was over-confident, and we had played 4 times already. I made sure not to overlook him.

That one felt nice. Those tactics. Lot of fun to play, but I still had work to do. Still just a half point back from first place, with there being 2 players at 2.5/3 compared to my 2/3. I felt like I had reasonable chances to get top 4!

In round 4 I was paired with the second highest rated player in the event, who had 2.5/3. I knew a loss would likely keep me out of the top 4, a win would make my chances remarkably high, while a draw would put me in a must-win situation in the last round. He beat me the last time we played, so of course I was nervous. But I was ready. And lucky.

Wow, crazy game there. I was outplayed for most of it, then he let his advantage slip. And then he blundered and I won. We take those!

I'm now 3/4 in the tournament and tied for first place! 3 players including myself had 3/4 points, while a few others had 2.5/4. I knew a draw would get me top 4 and at least a tie for second place, so that's what I played for in round 5. As previously mentioned. I literally didn't give a crap about winning the tournament, I just needed top 4 status. So what did I do when I was in a totally winning position in round 5...?

Yeah. I was crushing him at the end. But I could not take the chance that I would choke it and lose. What if I hung a piece? What if I blundered mate? What if I mouse slipped or missclicked? What if I lost internet connection and forfeited the game? I could not take the chance, could not risk it all. As it turned out, a loss would have kept me out of the top 4. A win tho... that would have given me clear first. Oh well. 

I ended up in a 5-way tie for first place. Yes, 5 ppl had 3.5/5 and nobody had more than that. Crazy, right! I mean, sure, I could have very easily won that last game and taken clear first, but I didn't for reasons I have already stated, but still. Pretty crazy to have a 5-way tie for first like that. I'm overly thrilled with my performance in rounds 2-5 (and I'm trying to forget about round 1, sheesh!) and look forward to playing in the invitational playoff for the Denker nomination. Thanks for reading, cya in the comments!