The 2017 North American Youth Chess Championship: An Eventful Tournament

The 2017 North American Youth Chess Championship: An Eventful Tournament

NM AlanZhang
Jul 17, 2017, 1:17 PM |

Hello dear viewer! I am Alan Zhang, a 12 year old rated 2150. This is my first ever blog, and it is about the biggest recent tournament, the North American Youth Chess Championship, a continental powerhouse of a competition spanning for five days. Now, I've been to my fair share of long tournaments, such as the SuperNationals and many other 3-day and 4-day events, so this is not the most tiring tournament in the world. Due to my being 12 for quite some time now, while I'm not eligible to register for U12, U14 was a smooth section, with many strong players. I live in New Jersey, and the tournament takes place in NJ, so my back and forth is quite convenient.

Several of these games you shall see contain quite valuable lessons, and that is mostly the point of me writing this. I want you and other people to learn from my mistakes and become better players.

Now, unfortunately, most of the strong players realized that they had nothing to earn in U14, so they left practically at the last second, sucking about half of the difficulty out of the tournament

Round 1: Andrew Teh vs Me: 0-1 Andrew is a 1700 from St. Louis, 400 points below my own rating, so it should be an easy game. That it was. 

This game was actually definitely not my steadiest wins, but it was a good sign, as it showed that I was recovering from my horrendous last tournament, one where I lost forty points. Due to my position as second highest seed, I was situated on board 2, board 1 occupied by a Canadian 2100 CM. However, he ended up losing his first round, which to me was a pleasant surprise, not only because I was now on board 1, but also because his fall gave me a much bigger control over tournament victory. Lesson learned, people. Never just mindlessly play the obvious move. Stop and think: is there something else?
Round 2:  Me vs Tim Deng: 1-0 Tim is a 1900 from LA, and a game that was actually easier to win than game 1, in my opinion.
I was now easily leading the tournament, and while there were several people with 2 points, I was the highest, being the highest rated. I honestly felt that this tournament would be a real pushover. Of course, this opinion drastically changed by next round.
Round 3: Vivek Srinivas vs Me: 1-0 Vivek, now 2100, is an old friend whom I last played 2 years ago, when we were 1600 and 1700. He lives in PA, and I did too, until I moved away. This was a horrendous show for me, and I will remember it as my most embarrassing loss of all time.
Lesson learned, people. Don't resign won positions. EVER. YOU WILL REGRET IT. After this game, I was thoroughly dejected, but my parents convinced me that, truthfully, there was still a long way to go and I could still win the tournament.
Round 4: Me vs Jonathan Chin: 1-0 Now, my relationship with Jonathan, a 2000-rated player, is a bit rough. I last played (and lost) to him in our state championships, kudos to time trouble. I have never really talked to him, and while I am perfectly fine with him, he is also not too high on my friend list.
Lesson learned, people. There are two ways to win a game. One is very situational. That one is tactic demolition. The other one is outlast, outplay, and outright win.
Now, I'm going into the half mark of the tournament with 4/5, good but not quite in first. First place is David Zhurbinsky, who is on 4.5/5.
Round 5: Qiuyu Huang vs Me: 1-0 Qiuyu is a Chinese-Canadian 12 year old with a rating of 2083, and (spoiler alert) a new FM title in his pocket.
Lesson learned, people. Opening over-aggression WILL lead to your demise. Due to a draw between David Zhurbinsky and Prateek Mishra, another runner-up, Qiuyu was half point behind David, but since they already played each other, with David being victorious, they had to play down.
Round 6: Me vs Rudransh Rajaram: 1-0 Then, I was already too low on the standings to have a chance at playing against the big guns, who were facing 5-pointers. This game was sort of a massacre.
Lesson learned, kids. Remember that situational rule I stated in the game against Jonathan? Yeah? Well, that rule is what works in situations like the position before 23. Bxe6
Round 7: Me vs David Zhurbinsky: 1-0 This round saw me return to the top guns. I was gifted with double White, even though it meant that I probably would have double Black.
Lesson learned, kids. Always keep fighting, and maybe you'll be rewarded. In an inferior position, get counterplay. And also, luck is absolutely awesome.
Round 8: Ethan Gu vs Me: 0-1 Ethan is a good friend who is rated 2037. The first time I ever knew him was at Cheshire Chess Camp, a good 2 years ago.
Lesson learned, kids. My time management was shoddy in this game. Always be sure to keep a decent amount of time left after every move.
Now, going into the last round, I have 6/8. Qiuyu, who never relinquished the lead, has the same amount, due to his consecutive draws and round 3 loss to David. I analyzed my chances and knew that Qiuyu had to lose or draw and I had to win in order to tip the balance my way. If we both win, he wins the tourney since he won our personal encounter.
Round 9: Prateek Mishra vs Me: 1-0 What a way to wrap up the tournament! Here, I'm actually completely styled on and crushed.
Lesson learned: there's nothing to learn here. I don't even know.
Ultimately, Qiuyu won his game and became 1st place, earning his well-deserved FM title. Prateek Mishra earned 2nd, obtaining a large trophy and a CM title. However, I was surprised about 3rd. 3rd was a 4-way tie on 6 points, and somehow, I had a huge tiebreak number: 41! I earned 3rd place and now have a CM title I can stick next to my name.
Thank you for reading my first ever blog, and I hope you enjoyed learning about my tournament!
Also, all of my friends who made it to top 10 in U14 Open:
Qiuyu Huang 1st
CM Taran Idnani 4th
David Zhurbinsky 5th
Ethan Gu 6th
Charles Hawthorn 9th
Shawn Wang 10th
EDIT: 7/20/17
Due to the official release of the new standings, David was promoted to 3rd and I was placed at 4th.