Happy New Year!



Well, its 2015, and I can’t wait for the new year. This will be a big year for me, as I will graduate high school , and by the end of the year, will attend college. While school has been a top priority for me, I still have goals for my chess career before the year ends. Here are my New Year’s Resolutions:

Break the Top 40 for eighteen year olds nationally

I finished 2014 ranked 53rd among all 18 year olds with an official rating of 1993. Now rated 2040, I should have a small jump for January. Hopefully I can cross this goal off the list sooner rather than later.

Win the Virginia Scholastic Chess Championships

I’ll definitely be an underdog, but I’ve been a competitor for my section since 3rd grade. I’ve gotten 8th place in the last two years, but if I can correct my mistakes from my past two appearances, I definitely can do better. With this being my last year of eligibility, there’s no reason to not work towards the state title.

Beat a Titled Player

I drew my first Life Master at the Washington Chess Congress (rated 2293) and my first FIDE Master at the Northern Virginia Open back in November (rated 2480), and I’ve been getting consistent results against Candidate Masters. My openings have become more concrete, and I think a win can’t be that far off.

Become Candidate Master

This is a short term goal, but I believe its fairly realistic. I have two of the five norms from solid performances at the Washington and National Chess Congresses.

Coach my chess team to another National High School National Championship

This will be difficult, but this year, we will have at least four players in the U1600, U1200, and U800 sections. Last year, our team won the U1200 section with seven players, but since our championship victory last year, our team has seen a wider spread of ratings. Depth may be an issue, but if any group can win in back-to-back years, it’s these guys.

Reach National Master

This is the hardest one on the list, but I believe I can gain 160 rating points by December 2015 to reach 2200 and earn the title. I’ve been playing a lot of higher rated players recently, and I definitely feel my understanding of chess to come together more than ever before.

Those are my goals for 2015, feel free to share yours! Happy New Year!

Emporia Open Tomorrow

My first tournament as an expert will be tomorrow at the Emporia Open. Although I’m not the top seed I hope to be able to compete for 1st place in the last round. With five rounds to play, I’m aiming for at least 4/5, a full 1.5 points better than my performance last year. I’ll post my best games from this weekend here on my blog some time next week.


PS: For any avid fans of this blog out there, I’ll be posting more once my college application process is complete. A long, detailed post takes at least an hour to write, so its been difficult the past few weeks, especially with the multitude of tournaments I have to prepare for. Thanks for your understanding.


Sorry for the long break, but I FINALLY broke 2000 last week in the Premier section of the Washington Chess Congress. I’ll post a video on my youtube channel this weekend with my best game from the tournament. I finished 3/7, with one win, four draws, and only two losses. I should earn my 1st of five Candidate Master norms at some point this week.

Isaac’s Mailbag, 4th Edition

Hi everyone! I’m back with my fourth mailbag! As you know, each week I answer 4 questions that I have been asked since my last edition of the mailbag, either from coaching my high school team, or questions submitted by you guys, the viewers. Hopefully, you may find that some of these questions are similar to yours, and if not, maybe you’ll learn something new!


1) Congrats on breaking your all-time high rating this past weekend! What was your best game?

Thanks! As you may know, I played in the Open section of the Kingstowne Chess Festival. I finished with a win and 3 draws, finishing the tournament rated 1964. That being said, I think the best game I played was in the first round, my only decisive match

Ling – Steincamp (Kingstowne Chess Festival, 2014)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 d6 8.Be2 O-O 9.O-O Bd7 10.Rc1 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bc6 12.f3 a5 13.Qd2

14.Nd5 This move was premature. My opponent wanted to play f3-f4, so this move is actually mistake. Because the knight protected e4 from c3, White now has less flexibility, and a smaller margin for error.

14…Nc5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qd4+ e5 17.Qe3 Ne6

18.f4?? When I saw this I expected my opponent to sacrifice the knight and play 19. f5, but 19… Qg5 wins for Black. 

18… Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nxf4 20.Bd1

20…Qg5! White has too much to deal with. The threat of …Nh3+ is extremely strong, and my opponent had to find 21. Rc2 to stay in the game. After the text move, I quickly went up an exchange and converted the point in the endgame

21.Rxf4 Qxf4 22.Qxf4 exf4 23.Bg4 h5 24.Bh3 g5? 25.Bf5 Kf6 26.Rc7 b5 27.Kf2 Ra6 28.Rc6 Rfa8 29.Kf3 Rxc6 30.dxc6 Ra7 31.h4 gxh4 32.Kxf4 Rc7 33.Bd7 a4 34.Be8 Ke7 35.Bd7 Rxd7 36.cxd7 Kxd7 37.e5

37…d5! Creating a passed pawn.

38.Kf5 Ke7 39.e6 fxe6+ 40.Ke5 Kd7 41.Kd4 Kd6 42.b3 axb3 43.axb3 b4 44.Kd3 e5 45.Ke3 Ke6 46.Kf3 Kf5 47.g3 h3 48.g4+ hxg4+ 49.Kg3 d4 50.Kf2 d3 51.Ke1 h2 52.Kf2 h1=Q 53.Kg3 Qf3+ 54.Kh4 g3 55.Kh3 Kf4 56.Kh4 Qg4# 0-1

This was a nice game because I punished my opponent for his 14. Nd5 plans. The game was relatively easy after I got up the exchange.

2) The Washington Chess Congress is this weekend. How are you preparing?

With one week left, there is very little you can do to improve your game. I will be playing in the Premier Section (same section as US Chess Champion GM Gata Kamsky), and all I will do this week is tactical exercises and review my opening lines. Try to get in some practice G/15 games online or with friends to practice, but don’t stress out too much.

3) Last week’s tactic was tricky, can I have another?

Sure, no problem. This game was from 1971 between Beyen and Filip in Luxemburg. White has an attack but how does he win?

White to Move

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 12.52.25


1. Bxg6 hxg6 2. Re7+ Rxe7 3. dxe7+ Kxe7 4. Rd8 Kxd8 5. h7 1-0 and the passed pawn pawn is unstoppable. Kudos to you if you solved this one.

4) What’s your favorite song to listen to before a match?

Right now it has to be The Man by Aloe Blacc. Hall of Fame by The Script also puts me in a relaxed but battle-ready mindset.

Don’t forget to send in your questions for next week’s edition of the Mailbag! You can leave them in the comments section of this post.

Chess Season Starts Saturday

Well, not literally. Chess is all year round, but everything will be in full swing after this weekend. This weekend I will play in the Kingstowne Chess Festival, and I will round out the month with the Washington Chess Congress and the Emporia Open. In addition to my tournaments, my school team is hosting its first free chess clinic of the school year on Monday, and will have a match against George Mason University on Wednesday.

With a loaded schedule, here is what I hope to accomplish by December:

1) Break 2000

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but with five tournaments on my agenda between now and December, earning 55 points seems perfectly reasonable. By breaking the expert threshold, I could be ranked as high as 60th nationally for my age when I turn 18 in November.

2) Beat a Titled Player

This was also one of my summer goals. However, with my only chance being my Virginia Closed opening round against Grandmaster Sergey Erenburg, I still have yet accomplish this feat. With a much more solid opening repertoire and tactical arsenal, I think I’m in a much better position to accomplish this goal.

3) Earn my first Candidate Master Norm

One of my long term goals is to earn the CM title before I head to college next year. Earning a norm now means getting a title later.

With my chess calendar full, I’m looking forward to the competition.

Kingstowne Chess Festival Next Week!


Well, after a long wait, next week I’ll be playing in my first long time control tournament at the Virginia Closed. Last month in the State Championships, I finished 7th with a score of 4/6, with only one loss to Grandmaster Sergey Erenburg in what was one of my best performances of the past year.

Next week, I’ll only have four rounds to try to keep up the solid play at the Kingtowne Chess Festival. Last year I scored 1.5/4, but was a significant underdog in all my matches, so this year I aim to double that with a score of 3/4 or better. Its a bit ambitious, but I’ve done the work, and hopefully pulling my Tactics Trainer rating on chess.com to 2100+ will pay off.

Potomac Open This Weekend!


Well, I’m playing in the Potomac Open this weekend, making it my first tournament since the World Open last month. I’m playing in the U2100 section, and shoud be a fun section for me. Here are some of my goals for myself in Rockville:

1) No more draws

Not that draws are bad, but when you’ve drawn 7 straight games, you kind of get bored of getting the same result. In my last 10 rated games, I haven’t lost a single round, but it would be nice to improve my tally in the win column.

2) Hat Trick or Better

I’m aiming for 3/5 and above, which would be the first time I’ve scored over 50% in an adult tournament since the Northern Virginia Open (excluding the World Open and small tournaments). I hope that as a result of playing higher rated competition, I can finally start climbing the Candidate Master barrier.

3) Play More Aggressively

Getting 7 draws in a row at my level is not a sign of two players playing brilliantly for 7 consecutive games, it means that opportunities were missed. If I want to do better, I’m going to have to push myself to find strong options every move. I broke 2000 this past week on chess.com, so hopefully that’s a good sign.

Are you playing in the Potomac Open? What are your goals for this weekend? Good Luck!