Because I won the PA State High School Chess Championship, I qualified to represent Pennsylvania in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions again. This year, the tournament was in East Indianapolis, a rather desolate area. However, the field was stronger than before, as I came in only as the 15th seed.
Round 1: I was playing an 1800 rated player as Black. I played a small sideline in the opening, but it backfired, giving my opponent a good amount of space. However he was too eager to push his pawns to attack my king, letting me undermine his dark squares and win three pawns.
Round 2: I was playing on board 1 against the second seed after the first seed was upset in round 1. I played a quiet line and had a good position, but was too tempted to attack, failing to see that I could lose a pawn. I continued to defend into a rook and knight endgame, which definitely had drawing chances. However, my opponent outplayed me and eventually won.
Round 3: My opponent was a 2100 rated player, and I had Black again. I developed my pieces way to slowly in the opening, letting my opponent obtain a crushing position. However, he blundered in time pressure and allowed me to win the game.
Round 4: My opponent was the 2100 rated player who upset the first seed. I had a small positional edge and a good grip on the position the whole game. My opponent sacrificed his bishop for two pawns in the endgame for counterplay. It was almost successful because both players missed a chance for him to draw. At the end, I was able to sacrifice my extra piece for his promoting pawn and promote my own pawn.
Round 5: I played the defending champion from last year. I had a slight edge out of the opening and agreed to a draw 20 moves later in a relatively equal position.
Round 6: If I won this game, I would tie for second. If I lost, I would get 14th. A draw would earn me a Life Master norm. I made a dubious opening choice, but recovered and exchanged into an equal endgame. However, I missed one of his resources and simply blundered a pawn and the game.
Overall, I had a successful tournament though my score was the same as last year's (3.5/6). I gained 12 rating points, putting me back at 2250. There definitely were some lucky breaks, and I can see where I need to improve on next.
As a side note, I did end up visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 are held. The tradition is to kiss the bricks at the finish line if the driver wins the race. Maybe kissing the bricks this time will give me enough luck to get first place next time!