Redmond wins 2017 WA HS Team Champs! (part 1/2)
Anshul A (anshulcgm2) has already posted a summary and games report of the State Team Championships on his blog, which is pretty good and concise. I'm writing about my own games and experiences in more detail in form of a storyline and hopefully, I can make it somewhat interesting for readers. As for the individual games, I will comment and post some of the most interesting ones. Enjoy! The Redmond team members are Samuel H, Daniel H (me), Samuel D, Noah Y, and Anshul A.
In Washington state high school chess, there are different leagues based on location and schools from the same area play in the same league. The KingCo league, which Redmond was in, has schools from the King County area, the Metro League has more of the Seattle area schools, etc. The top scoring schools from each league qualify for the big state team tournament (the one I'm blogging about now). Redmond has been the KingCo champs for the past 2 years now. Our biggest rival is and has always been Interlake, where we faced on in the final round of playoffs every single year in an intense match. This year's KingCo final against Interlake was scheduled to take place February 27, but unfortunately, the snowstorm caused it to be cancelled. Therefore, an agreement was made that if we play Interlake at state team, the result would count for the Kingco title as well. At this point in the KingCo league, Interlake was ahead of us by a half point, so a tied match would give them the victory. We needed 3/5 to clinch the title.
On March 3-4, the annual WA HS Team Championships took place at Issaquah High School. Teams of 5 players from the same school came from all over the state came to participate. Unlike most USCF tournaments, the Team Championships started Friday after school and ended on Saturday instead of the full weekend. Personally, I like having a tournament start right after school because there's something good to look forward to while in class. But that also means I'll probably be more sleepy during the games. Anyways, teams were supposed to check in by 3:30 or they'll lose time on the clock in round 1. We arrived at Issaquah High at 3:32 PM and slipped in the building right as the directors called our names. Luckily, we managed to check in without losing time on our clocks. The top seed and last year's champion was Lakeside, our state rival. Obviously, Interlake was still big competition, but compared to Lakeside, they were a piece of cake. Lakeside had the strong Bryce T, who is rated 2400+ and a tough player to beat. However, the rest of their team are 1900-2000 players who aren't active and are probably rusty. We were second seed, while Interlake was third.
The pairings for round 1 took forever to make, but at least that gave us more time to practice and get our brains ready for chess. When the pairings finally came out, I saw that we were up against Bainbridge High who had an average rating below 1500. Although one may think this is an easy 5-0 sweep, it's not true. Some of these players aren't active and are underrated ("bigs"), so we better play carefully still. In my game, I played the Penings-He gambit against the Caro-Kann and got a winning position before move 10 against a 1200 rated player. Noah checkmated his opponent his opponent around 5 minutes after the round began. Things were looking good. Anshul was the last one to finish, but he was already up a piece for the majority of the game, so no worries there! 5/5 so far.We looked at the results sheet to figure out who we may face next. We hoped not to play Garfield because they had the famous Roland F on board 1, who would cause Samuel some trouble. Since we expected 10-0 in the first day, being paired against Garfield in round 2 was not ideal. We saw that Garfield was at 4/4 with their board 2 still playing a "big". We kept our eyes on that game, hoping that Garfield didn't win. It seemed like that was going to happen because the position was locked up and only the other team could win. Garfield's board 2 offered a draw, which the "big" surprisingly declined! In the end, Garfield won somehow and they were 5-0 like us. Now time for the nervous wait for round 2 pairings.
When the pairings were posted for round 2, we were relieved to find we were not paired against Garfield, but against Lakeside B. According to Anshul, there were still 10 teams with a perfect score. I wonder when we will even get to play Lakeside of Interlake! Lakeside A is a challenge, but Lakeside B is a "piece of cake". Last year, we had trouble against Lakeside B, tying them 2.5-2.5, which pretty much ended our chances of winning first in state. This year, we have an improved team and Lakeside B only lost players. I played a reversed Botvinnik English and got a pretty quick win as black. The entire Redmond team won pretty quickly in fact with no signs of trouble the entire round! While we used our brooms to sweep Lakeside B, Lakeside A was having trouble against Inglemoor, who had a master, Kyle H, on board 1. Kyle and Bryce drew a "boring GM draw" on board 1, but this draw was important because that meant we will not be playing Lakeside in round 3! Even better, their bottom boards were also having trouble against Inglemoor. They drew on board 2, and we noticed both Nagase brothers were losing (against a 1300 and a 1500)! We knew our chances of beating Lakeside were big this year as they were super rusty. Samuel and I left before the Lakeside match ended, but we got news later that both Nagases won (I'm guessing luck was involved). Oh well. Interlake B and Mercer Island (the famous Joseph_Truelson's team) could have scored 10/10, but they each lost a point so they settled with 9/10. That concludes Day 1 of the state team champs. We stood at a perfect 10/10 along with fellow KingCo team Bellevue, who we did not play in the KingCo league!