For those of you who may know me well, one tournament that has always been just out of my reach is the Virginia Scholastic State Championships. Since the third grade, I’ve always been competitive in my section, with five top ten finishes to show for it. Though my scholastic days have been over for a long time, I’m still chasing at least one state championship title.
This past weekend, I had my first real opportunity to become a state champion, as I was seated at board 1 going into the final round of the G/75 Pennsylvania State Chess Championships against defending champion Mark Eidemiller. I had scored 2.5/3, with two somewhat quiet wins, and a draw against a 2200 rated opponent. I shared my first round win last Tuesday:
My opponent had won each of his three games in a convincing manner, so I had to win to get the championship honors. Let’s see how it went:
Steincamp–Eidemiller (G/75 Pennsylvania State Championships, 2016)
Unfortunately, with this misstep, the computer evaluation dropped from +5.3 to +0.3, which was more than enough for my opponent to hold the draw. So what did we learn from this game?
The game isn’t over till the players shake hands.
I would be State Champion if I had taken 26…Bd3 more seriously and calculated out the whole line or just found the trade on d8. I’m perfectly capable of calculating both lines, but in that precise moment I was too excited to think straight, which leads me to my next point.
Don’t play quickly.
I had a couple regrets this game, and ultimately, there is no going back. Even if I was excited, a trip to the water fountain or a walk around the tournament hall could alone have saved the game and been the difference.
There was no need for me to get excited because I hadn’t done anything yet! Even though the opening went well in my favor, that alone didn’t win the game. I just had to be patient.
I’m sure I’ll break the curse one day in the near future, but I am at least happy I finally made it to the top board heading into the final round of the tournament – already the farthest I’ve made it thus far.