At long last….it’s finally happened. This past weekend at the Baltimore Open, I performed well enough to cross the ever-so-difficult 2200 barrier and achieve my goal. My rating jumped from 2189 to 2204, a good 15 points. And, surprisingly enough, I was able to accomplish this feat with only playing three games in the tournament. Before I share the game that propelled me over the barrier, some background. I was first exposed to chess at 10 years old, which was extremely late when taking into account the ages at which people start playing now. After the long climb, I finally crossed 2000 in October of 2014. Although it was almost two and a half years ago, it seems just like yesterday. After crossing 2000, I was stuck the mid-2000s for a long time until I had one very good World Open in July of 2015, where I scored an undefeated 6/9 in the U2200 section. This performance skyrocketed me from 2058 to 2128. Since that tournament, tournaments have been a constant up and down for me. I would piece together a few good performances before losing that progress in a single tournament and/or an NVA or DCCL match. However, recently, I was able to catch some momentum and was able to ride the wind to the very top. And, believe it or not, I haven’t even been playing much; with the amount of school work I have, I’ve only been able to play in approximately two events per month, with one or sometimes even both being the one-game NVA or DCCL matches. Following that pattern, I haven’t been able to study much at home either. However, as Jennifer Yu mentioned in her recent article here, playing chess is the most helpful way to improve at the game, and for me, that’s proved to be enormously relevant.
The whole thing has been a bit ironic since Beilin’s recently wrote (here) about our chances of crossing 2200 at USATE this upcoming weekend! Well, Beilin, now that I’ve crossed the NM roadblock, you can, too! Hopefully, this development can act as extra motivation for the rest of the Chess^Summit team to reach their goals as well.
The Baltimore Open was a five-round, three-day tournament that lasted from Friday, Feb 10th to Sunday, Feb 12th. Due to a prior commitment that I had for Friday night, I took the half-point bye for the first round. Although at that time I wished I could have played all five rounds, I knew that going into the second round with a half point would allow me the chance to play a fairly challenging opponent next round. For the second round the following morning, I was paired against Aravind Kumar, a strong 2300 player from NJ that frequently travels for open tournaments in the Northern Virginia area. He, too, had taken a first-round bye, although the reason was most likely for travel. Despite putting up a valiant effort that morning, I came out with a loss. With two rounds already in the books and having lost a game already, I knew the rest of the tournament would have to play out almost perfectly, if not perfectly, in order to keep the goal of reaching 2200 in the tournament within reason. For the third round, I was paired against a mid-2000 rated girl by the name of Evelyn Zhu. I remembered that I had played her before in the past year or two, so I was able to prepare a line and win that game without many problems. The two ratings from that day happened to be approximately equidistant from my rating at the time, so the two results basically canceled out. As a result, the outcomes of the next game(s) would play a very significant role in the final rating after the tournament. On Sunday morning, after eating a breakfast of danishes and bagels (standard complimentary breakfast), I was paired against Nikhil Kumar, a 2399 middle schooler who had recently shot up to his current rating after stringing together several outstanding performances. I knew I had to prepare and play well to have a chance at this game.
Of course, every game that I have played in my chess career has led me to this point, but I will forever remember this game as the game that propelled me over 2200. The fact that I was able to accomplish this feat with so many different variables proves how just about anyone can accomplish the same if they work hard and are motivated. This especially goes for the rest of the Chess^Summit team. Now that I have crossed the threshold, I am hoping that the others follow suit very soon! And, as always, thanks for reading and see you next time!