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2023-24 South Florida Grand Prix #5: A Victorious Finale
"The job is done. We can go home now." - Nikola Jokic

2023-24 South Florida Grand Prix #5: A Victorious Finale

nbrasington
| 18

INTRODUCTION


This is my recap of the fifth and final day of the 2023-24 South Florida Grand Prix tournament. There have been four days of this Grand Prix throughout the school year, and I have participated in all four. I have done well up to this point, scoring a perfect 5/5 on the first day back in October, then 4.5/5 on days two and three, and then 4/5 on day four last month.

For this tournament, I was more focused on the overall Grand Prix results than the individual tournament day. The way the Grand Prix is formatted is that your total points from all five days will determine where you place on the overall year-end GP standings. And heading into the fifth and final day of the GP, my scores from the first four events had me in clear first place on the overall standings, a full 2.5 points ahead of the kid in second place!

The top 5 in contention for the end-of-year awards in my section

So all I had to do was score a 2.5/5 here and I would be guaranteed at least a tie for first place, depending on how well the other kids in contention did, and a 3/5 would mean that I secure my place as the stand-alone winner of the Grand Prix! This allowed me to significantly relax and have a very peaceful state of mind going into the final day, knowing that a 2.5/5 or above score should realistically be pretty simple for me. But nothing was set in stone yet, and anything can happen...


ADDITIONAL DETAILS


- Our time control is 25 minutes with a 5-second delay

- I play in the K-8 Championship section

- There are 5 rounds, all in one day


ROUND 1


I was paired with an 803 named Santino for round 1, which makes back-to-back tournaments where I have been paired with an 800+ for round 1. I've said it before, but I can't stress enough how much the competition has ramped up in these tournaments. I miss the good old days (like on the first day of this Grand Prix) when I would get paired with sub-300s in round 1.

This 800 in particular was putting up a pretty decent fight. I found myself deadlocked in a tough game as early as round 1. Could I pull out of there alive, or would I crumble under the pressure of a potential first-round upset?

So right here I stopped notating, which I probably should have done way earlier in the game, but I wanted to write as many of the moves down as I could for the blog since it was such an interesting game. Now that I had won a rook, though, I figured it would be smooth sailing. Then, a few moves later, my opponent hung his knight as well.

I got pretty comfortable and began to settle down until I realized that I had less than twenty seconds on my clock. I began to scramble out random moves. I figured it didn't really matter since I was literally up a rook and a knight. I wasn't concerned about whatever my opponent was doing.

Until... this happened...

Ouch. That really hurt. What an excruciatingly painful way to lose, and to an 800 too. If I had had more time, it would have been easy-going, but my time management was poor and I paid the price. I have to give some serious props to my opponent for continuing to fight hard. He truly pushed me to my breaking point.

That loss was actually my first loss in this whole Grand Prix, and it is also probably one of the worst losses of my OTB career. I can't believe I threw that game. I was awakened to the fact that becoming champion of the GP was not going to be nearly as easy as I had thought... I was going to have to really earn it.


ROUND 2


So I found myself in unusual territory heading into round 2, with a 0/1 score. As you can imagine, my confidence was at a low and I felt seriously banged up. I knew that I had to find a way to pick myself back up and keep going if I wanted to avoid total disaster.

I was paired with a 732 named Daniel for the second round. This had become a must-win game for me if I wanted to get a comeback going and make the final push for Grand Prix champ. Could I get the win and bounce back, or would I lose another and fall deeper into the pit?

Well, that was quite a boring game that honestly felt like a waste of time. He refused to resign and I just went on an angry rampage, taking each and every one of his pieces. That crushing win helped me regain some confidence.


ROUND 3


Now that I had won a dominant game and scored a point, I had gotten some of my groove back and I once again felt a lot more chill about everything.

My opponent for round 3 was an 874 named Jeremiah. I'm pretty sure I'd seen this kid at some of the previous tournaments in the GP, but I had yet to play him. Would I prevail, or would I fall to another upset loss?

There we go, another smooth win! I'm officially back now and ever so close to securing the Grand Prix title!


ROUND 4


So this is it. With my 2/3 score, I'm half a point away from being guaranteed at least a tie for first place on the overall Grand Prix standings, and a full point away from sealing my stand-alone victory. I could hardly control my excitement.

For round 4, I was paired with a 580 named Deepak. Normally, I would see the 580 rating on the pairings list and relax a bit, but this 580 in particular was having a great tournament, having defeated two 1000+ rated players and also drawn with one. It was clear that he was severely underrated, and I knew not to doubt him.

I was sure that I was going to have to fight hard for the win, but if I managed to get it, I would be the sole winner of the Grand Prix. This is a big game. Deep breath, here we go.

YESSS! I DID IT!!! I am the 2023-24 K-8 South Florida Grand Prix CHAMPION!

Wow. This is crazy. And to think, I started the year with absolutely no intention of trying to achieve anything for myself in OTB chess. If you remember from my blog recapping the first day of this Grand Prix, I said that I was just playing in that tournament day for fun to score some points for my school's chess team. Then I ended up scoring a perfect 5/5, and I thought: why not participate in all 5 days and try to go after the overall Grand Prix championship? And now here we are. Holy cow. I can't believe it!

It technically wasn't official yet, since I would have to wait until the end of the day to be officially awarded my trophy, but assuming my calculations are correct, a score of 3 points or more seals the win for me!


ROUND 5


Amidst all the excitement, I almost forgot that there was still a whole other round 😅. The good news was that I could chill since this round meant practically nothing to me now.

My opponent was an 1172 named Ved, who I have seen around at these tournaments. He has proven himself to be a really good player, and if it wasn't a virtually pointless round for me, I would be pretty nervous to be playing him.

We pretty much agreed to a draw before the game even started. This round didn't mean a whole lot for him either, so he told me that he was going to play the most boring, drawish London System-like opening that he could think of to almost guarantee a draw. I was totally fine with that and honestly relieved that I didn't have to actually play another tough game for no reason.

He did exactly what he said he'd do, and we played probably the shortest game of the tournament. I was completely satisfied with my 3.5/5 score. I had achieved what I had come to achieve... Grand Prix champion!


CONCLUSION


I had to sit through a good thirty minutes of the TDs announcing the winners of the other sections, and it felt like ages to me. Finally, they announced the overall Grand Prix trophy winners from my section, and when they got to first place... it was indeed my name!!!

Now it's official!

A total of 25 rounds over 5 days throughout the year, and at the end of it all, I got the win! I am so happy.

My first-place trophy up close
My grandparents and brothers surprised me by showing up for the trophy presentations!

Unfortunately, there is a bit of not-so-great news to go with the celebration. As I expected, due to my round one loss to that 803, my rating dropped 33 whole points down to 1305. I'm not too upset about it, though. I'm just relieved to have won the event. Plus, my rating has jumped all the way from 1178 to 1305 in this Grand Prix alone and I am very excited to continue improving.


PARTING WORDS


Before I go, I just wanted to say a few quick thank-yous. First and foremost, I thank God. He is so good and I give all glory to Him. With Him, nothing is impossible y'all. 🙂

Also, a huge thank-you to my parents, who found a way to work all 5 of the tournament days into our crammed schedule and spent numerous Saturdays of their year driving me all the way out to the tournament location and back. They're the real ones. 🫡

And then finally, a thank-you to you all for reading my blogs and coming along with me on this Grand Prix journey. I really enjoy writing my blogs and it means a lot to me when I see people reading and engaging with them. 😁

So, what's next for me as far as OTB chess goes? Well, next year is my first year of high school, so I'm not exactly sure what to expect there, but I would love to continue playing in as many tournaments as I can. I will definitely keep updating you all with my recap blogs whenever I do participate in one!

For now, though, that's all from me. Have a great summer, everyone!

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Cya next time!

Hey there, my name is Noah B! I'm a 14-year-old Christian who writes chess blogs for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of my audience. happy.png

 

(Read more about me in my bio on my profile)