Washington High School Team Championships 2016 Experience
The Redmond High School chess team recently played in the WA HS Team Championship from Feb 26-27 at Issaquah. Last year, our team placed 4th, but we only had a average team rating of 1800. This year, our team average was 1980, and we had a good chance of winning first place! Our team board order was me on board 1, Samuel H on board 2, Noah Y on board 3, Anshul A on board 4, and Samuel D on boad 5.
Based on team averages, we were ranked 2nd behind the Lakeside team, and we got paired against Seattle Prep school for the first round. Our team got a pretty easy 5-0. My game was done pretty early when my opponent blundered his queen. Sam's game was also easy after his opponent got mated early in an opening trap. Samuel gambited a pawn for lots of active play, but his opponent defended until he missed a mate due to a double check + mate. Noah's game was won easily after he got a strong attack, and won piece after piece. Anshul seemed to win a piece somewhere in the middlegame and soon got a win without too much trouble. Samuel D's game was the toughest, as it looked like he was in time trouble, but he had a better position, so I wasn't too worried yet. He found a really strong tactic which simplified the position into a win. 5/5! Our biggest competitor team Lakeside also scored 5-0 (as expected), and we wondered when we will face each other. Because this was the first round, there was a good amount of 5.0 scores...
This round we were paired against Interlake B team, who've we played before earlier in the league matches and didn't do too well. I played the sideline 2. Qe2 against the French, a line I usually get good positions with. In the opening, my opponent either missed or miscalculated something, and I forced him to sacrifice his rook for knight. Later, I gave back the exchange, but it led to a winning endgame. Samuel played a weird line against 1. d4, and got into some strange position, but he saw some winning tactics, and his opponent resigned. Noah played the same opponent he lost to earlier in the year. This time, he won a piece early on the game soon after. Anshul's game was the toughest.. After getting into a "dead drawn" middlegame with opposite colored bishops, but with queens and rooks on the board, Anshul tried too hard to win, and he blundered his bishop. However, luck was on our side and they traded too many pieces that it ended up with no winning chances for both sides. A lucky draw indeed! Samuel D's game seemed pretty straightforward, as he saw a nice tactic in the middlegame which won a piece. 9.5/10... Lakeside also gave up a draw this round, as did 2 other teams. Heading into day 2/round 3, we knew we were paired against Lakeside B team...
The third highest rated team was last year's state champion, Interlake A, and they also had 9.5/10 and played Lakeside A. Last year, the Interlake vs Lakeside match seemed to be the "deciding match" for the champion, as there were spectators filled up all around their table. This year, Lakeside outrated the Interlake team by 100+ pts each board. Lakeside had 1900's and 2000+ rated players, while Interlake had more like all 1800s (a line of 1800s)... We got paired against Lakeside B, and we predicted an easy 5-0, but the match didn't go as expected... I faced 1. f4 on the top board. Playing a "reversed English", I got a comfortable position and got a winning attack. Samuel played white against a King's Indian and got a really big space advantage, and soon his opponent blundered a piece for no reason. Noah seemed to have a really good position in the middlegame, and it looked like he was on his way to a win. Unfortunately, he miscalculated a trade, and he traded minor pieces at the wrong time, which allowed his opponent to get active play. After a few more inaccuracies, Noah was down a pawn in a queen and minor piece endgame. It should be lost, but Noah got lucky when his opponent gave the pawn back and managed a draw. Lucky! Anshul's game went well at first, as he had a big space advantage and better piece placement. However, it was hard to find the plan to play for the win, and Anshul opened up his kingside position too early, allowing his opponent to play a winning tactic, which won immediately. Samuel D played solidly and defended against his opponent's attack pretty well. In time pressure, he missed a tactic and lost his queen. But the position was hard to defend though in the first place. 12/15... Lakeside at 13.5, we were falling behind going into our match... Intense!
This was the "deciding match" of this year's championship. If we manage to score higher than them this match, we have good chances for first. But if we tie or score fewer points, we would most likely not win. I played Bryce (2300+) on the first board as white, and we got into a complicated middlegame. We both thought he was better at one point, but it's unclear how black should play. Maybe my position wasn't that bad at all! I won a pawn, and simplified into a Q + R endgame with me having an extra pawn. After Bryce lost another pawn due to miscalculation, the game was pretty much over. Samuel played e4 g6 and got a strong position on like move 5!?... I think his opponent even had to play Kf2 early on.. Wow.. Samuel played an exchange sacrifice which got a long-term advantage/attack, which he later found a win after a series of complicated moves.. Noah played an opening trap in the Sicilian, and his opponent actually fell for it! But Noah got his knight trapped and soon lost the game. Unfortunate.. Anshul's game was an exchange French, and we thought he should at least draw. However, the game took a while and he slowly lost. Samuel D played a good game, and he had a strong position out of the opening. I predicted that he would eventually win, but to my surprise, he lost the endgame. We lost 2-3.. Our chances were pretty much gone. But we played for second place! We were paired against Interlake "the line" A.... Round 5!
We were hoping to get a good enough score to place 2nd in the tournament. We were tied with Interlake at this point, so we needed to score at least 3 to get ahead of them. I played F.aris on board 1. The opening was a Nimzo Indian and we got a pretty equal position from the opening. We got into an endgame with B + Q + Ps vs N + Q + Ps, with me having the bishop. However, my bishop was so strong, that I got a good attack and soon my passed pawns got pushed and I won soon after. Samuel played the same opening trap as in round 1, and his opponent fell for it! An easy win followed... Noah played the Benko Gambit and got a really good position, and found some nice tactics to get a win. Anshul, who wasn't having too good of a tournament, blundered a pawn in the opening and never really had any chances, and lost eventually. Samuel D lost his rook for minor piece early on in the game, but he got an attack going, and his opponent made some mistakes, and Samuel got a winning pawn endgame.
We ended up placing 2nd place, with Lakeside placing 1st. We hope to get 1st place next year as we learn from our mistakes and improve the team! Thanks for reading!