During the May 12-14 weekend, I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee in order to play in Supernationals VI, one of the most awaited tournaments for K-12 players around the country. The tournament only comes around every four years, making it all the more prestigious if one performs well in the tournament. The event was held at the Gaylord Opryland, which, in my mind, is one of the most accommodating hotel/convention centers that a tournament could be held in.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect heading into this tournament. Knowing that I was going to be dealing with a relatively shorter time control (G/120 + d/5) and that I hadn’t exactly had a lot of free time to prepare for the tournament since I had multiple end-of-year exams to prepare for in the weeks prior. In addition, scholastic tournaments are difficult in general, but that discussion is for another day. Opting to take the 10-hour drive to Nashville rather than flying, I had more than enough time to prepare during the car ride and to take rest. So, if there was one positive for me to consider going into the tournament, it was that I was fairly well-rested.
I began the tournament as the 49th seed out of 272. Prior to the first round, the tournament directors announced that they would be using accelerated pairings for the first two rounds, which meant that if I was to win the first round, I would play up in the second round. In the first round, I was paired against a newer player from Arizona who was rated 1965. A late oversight by my opponent allowed me to capitalize and win the game from there.
Do you see what I played here? Check here for the answer.
As expected, I played up in the second round, albeit higher than I had initially imagined – I was paired against the 8th seed, a 2449 rated player. The critical positions were in the mid-20s when my opponent found an ingenious plan to crack my fortress, which led to his eventual win.
See if you can find what the best move(s) are in the position:
Check here for the answer.
Finishing the first day with 1 point out of 2, I went to bed content with myself anyway, since I had beat the players that I was supposed to and had given my best against a higher rated player. The next morning, I woke up to find myself paired with an 1876 rated player; in fact, it was a player that I had played before in a previous national tournament, but the exact one I don’t happen to remember at the moment. In regards to the game, my opponent found a good move in a critical position, at which point I had lost any advantage that I might have had. The game ended in a draw. Although I wasn’t too happy with myself for that result, I knew that the next round would be easier for me, and there was still a lot of tournament left.
In round 4 I was paired against another lower rated opponent that I had played in a previous national tournament. In the previous encounter, I had lost the game due to a blunder made in time trouble; so this time around, I was determined to get my revenge – and I was able to in a fairly convincing fashion. My opponent allowed a lethal double check at one point, which net me an exchange. A few moves later, I played a move that kept my advantage and I eventually won. However, the computer found a nice variation that would have ended the game much quicker, which I had not found due to its length and complexity.
Any idea what the silicon beast found in this position? If you’re stumped (or if you think you got it), check your answer here.
Round 5 was the last round of the second day of the tournament, and I was paired against a 1956 rated player, and I’ll be honest, I was lucky with this game. I had a solid -3 advantage (as black) before a series of inaccurate moves brought me back to around 0.00, when a horrible blunder on my part caused a jump to +6 for my opponent. Fortunately for me, my opponent offered a draw in the midst of time trouble, and I accepted without hesitation. I most certainly would have lost that game, but sometimes things just go your way. I went to sleep that night knowing I was lucky, but I knew I shouldn’t dwell on it too much. I still wasn’t able to win the game, and I had already drawn a couple games to lower rated players. Thus, I had to focus on winning games on the last day.
On the morning of the next day, I spent some time with my family because it was Mother’s Day! How often does that happen? For round 6, I was paired against a 2008 rated player. The game was perhaps the most autonomous game I have ever played against a decently high rated player. Taken out of book early, I developed my pieces, castled, doubled rooks on the e-file, cemented a knight on the central d4 square, and virtually paralyzed my opponent’s position. Then I proceeded to push the kingside pawns for an attack until my opponent decided to sacrifice a pawn to trade queens, but I converted the endgame without much sweat.
For round 7, the last round of the tournament, I was paired against a 1969 rated player. The opening was weird, but somehow, my opponent misplaced a piece, which allowed me to win a pawn early in the opening. After winning that early pawn, it was a matter of simple technique from there. When compared to the other days, the games I had on the last day were of much easier difficulty, which is ironic, since games are supposed to become harder as you progress in the tournament.
After 7 rounds, I finished with 5/7 points, with one loss and two draws as the results that cut off points from the final result. With the enormous amount of competition in the top section, 5/7 was barely good enough for a tied-for trophy in the end. However, considering the difficulties I had earlier in the tournament, my rating did increase a few points in the end. Overall, I wish I had been able to perform better since this was my last chance at Supernationals. The next time this tournament comes around, I’ll be in college! Yet, 5/7 still wasn’t a horrible score, and I was still able to take some hardware home, and I had a lot of fun, which is what counts in the end.
As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!