The Virginia State Scholastic Chess Championships is starting today, and by the time you see this article, I’ll likely be playing. In honor of the tournament, I wanted to spend this week talking about the tournament itself and looking back at perhaps one of the more memorable games I’ve played at the annual event.
The VA State Championships is a unique tournament. It always takes place during the first weekend of March, which is a rather uneventful two-day weekend in any other aspect. It’s a six-round tournament, but because it takes place on a two-day weekend, these rounds are fast-paced and rapid fire, one after another. Here, there are four rounds on Saturday, starting at 9 am and continuing at 12 noon, 3 pm, and 6 pm. The last two rounds are on Sunday at 8:30 am and 12 noon. The first three games on Saturday are G/60 + d/5, and the last three (last round on Saturday and the two on Sunday). If I’m being honest, this is pretty murderous schedule. In years past, I’ve always been exhausted by the end of the day on Saturday, and sometimes even before the last round that day. In contrast, top-level open tournaments have a schedule calling for one, at most two, game(s) a day with the entire tournament spread over multiple days to sometimes an entire week, whereas here there are as much as four games in a single day! Another interesting point is the location – because of Virginia’s relatively weird shape, it’s difficult to find a single location to host the tournament every year. To add to that, the majority of the players each year are from northern Virginia, but hosting the tournament in northern Virginia every year would make it a long drive for people that do live in the southern portion. Thus, in order to make it as even as possible, the tournament is held in the Norfolk/VA beach area, northern Virginia, and the Roanoke area on a three-year cycle. Lastly, while I don’t know too much about other state tournaments, I think it’s safe to say that the competition in both the K-12 and the K-8 sections is immensely strong year after year since all of the strongest scholastic players show up every time. This makes every tournament exciting and every year, there is always a nail-biting finish.
Going into the last round of the 2016 VA State Championships last year, I was tied with 4.5/5 for second behind the leader, Justin Lohr, who was in clear first with 5/5. The last round pairing pitted me against WFM Jennifer Yu, who was also at 4.5/5. I’ve attached the game below in the game viewer.
Kobla – Yu, VA State Championships, 2016
This was probably the most interesting game I have played to date at the tournament. I ended up placing 3rd in the tournament as Justin won his last round to sweep 6/6 and guarantee a first-place finish, and Jennifer finished ahead of me on tiebreaks.
It’ll be interesting to see how I perform in this year’s edition as I haven’t played much at all in the last six or so months due to junior year and school in general. Perhaps, for the next article, I’ll write about this tournament.
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!