Montana State Championship 2016 - Round 5

Oct 17, 2016, 10:42 AM |

The final round was a very big deal for me. I knew that if I won, I was guaranteed to be at least a co-champion, and perhaps even a unitary champion. Anything less would most likely force me to wait another year to 1) make it into the Closed, and 2) play just as strongly again.

Standing in my way was Hans Mazur, an extremely talented young player from Whitefish whose 1500-1600 rating is an understatement. I had beaten him in our two previous long games, but more recently he had beaten me in a speed tournament in Missoula when he pounced on a small blunder of mine.

We got into it, and it soon became apparent that I had my hands full. The complications in this game forced me to spend most of my alloted two hours, and though it was probably winnable with more time, the danger of making mistakes under time pressure forced a draw.

Ironically, I rejected multiple draw offers from Hans because I was desperate to win, and when I finally made my own counteroffer, he hinted that he might not want to accept it now. I hunkered down to play speed chess with only five minutes left on my clock; with the time delay at five seconds per move, I felt confident I could get a draw or perhaps even win. Hans cut the tension by finally accepting the draw, and I congratulated him for a job well done.

As I left the tournament to make the drive back to Missoula, I spied my good friend Jacob Copley "duking" it out with David Duke on board 1. If Jacob could win or even draw, I would be co-champion. If David won, it was back to obscurity with me. David looked as if he had a strong advantage, so I shelved my hopes and thought about my mistakes against Hans for the next three hours on the road.

Wouldn't you know it, when I reached Missoula I found a text message on my phone from Jacob, telling me that I owed him big time for his amazing job of securing a draw against David despite being on his heels for most of the match.

Words can't describe how this feels. Chess, like life, throws many challenges at you. You struggle constantly and endure one heartbreak after another, but you keep at it because just maybe one day things will go your way. When they finally do, they make your former troubles evaporate as if they never were, leaving a type of contentment that I can only imagine resembles Nirvana (the place, not the band).