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LOOKING BACK AT IT, I can say that the National High School has been the most chal- lenging hurdle of my scholastic chess career. Despite my win, this year was no different. In fact, this year had the potential to be the most stressful yet; as it was my last opportu- nity to prove myself on that stage, and I was entering in my weakest position yet. It was definitely discouraging to enter this tournament seeded 19th. But I think this position is what gave me the chutzpah to win. I couldn’t take myself too seriously, this was my last shot and I had nothing to lose. I decided to just go for it this tournament, playing crazy open- ings such as: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. e4 dxe4 6. Bc4 cxd4 7. Qb3. I resolved to show who I really was as a chess player. I am not conventional.


To prepare for the National High School


(NHS), I trained with my best friend Jon West. He’s a former chess player turned poker player. He’s mentally tough. Jon and I came up with a “points” game— essentially a giant bet—where the loser has to take the winner on an all-expenses paid, surprise vacation. With one week left, I’m currently winning. We’ve played many chess variants, and that experience really helped me prosper at the NHS. The tough battles in variants such as “atomic chess,” “monster chess,” and even “three- checks chess” really helped prepare me for some of those stressful last-round matches. As the 19th seed, I feel this was the best preparation possible. My battles with Jon really helped me gain confidence with complicated positions in high-pres- sure situations, and at the NHS they didn't rattle me. Before I left, Jon predicted I would win as “we’d been through too much” in our games and honestly, I felt winning the NHS was less stressful. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve been


having problems with my chess game. Jon’s been beating me, and in round three I blundered a piece on move four(!). But I was able to get through it and play strong moves when I needed them the most. In my matches against Jon, we each get a distrac- tion every game. While these used to rattle me, I can now play well under severe duress. In one game, a certain girl dis- tracted me, but I was able to resolve the distraction and win my game. I’m con- vinced that the wild variants really improved this aspect of my chess and that they should be studied in more depth. My game against Michael Brown was


the toughest. Even though he is really young, he was the most mentally tough of my opponents. I prepared 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 0-0 5. a3 Bxc3 6. Qxc3 b5!?, hoping he would crack under the pressure. He instantly played a move and looked confident. That for me was the toughest moment of the tour- nament. I also showered after every round. That’s been my secret ritual.


uschess.org


Nimzo-Indian Defense, Classical Variation (E32) Michael Brown (2342) Benjamin Gershenov (2244) National High School Championship (6) 04.15.2012


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 0-0 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 b5


I thought this was real interesting. 7. cxb5 c6 8. e3


In my “prep” I didnt even look at this move ... 8. ... cxb5 9. Bxb5 Ne4 10. Qb3 Qg5


2012 National High School Championship At A Glance


Date: April 13-15, 2012. Location: Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Top Individual Finishers: K-12 Championship: 1st, 6½: Ben Gershenov; 2nd-8th, 6: Eric Rosen, Dipro Chakraborty, Jason Altschuler, Atulya Shetty, Bryan Hu, Michael Vilenchuk, Andrew Ng; K-12 Under 1600: 1st, 7: Donald Hooker; 2nd-8th, 61


⁄2 : Orestes Ordonez,


Danny Goldstein, Christopher Phenicie, Jonathan Coffin, Ben Vaaler, Raul Rodriguez, Vince Paasch; K-12 Under 1200: 1st, 7: Kaustubh Nimkar; 2nd-12th, 6: Rex Xing, David Yang, Wesley Dean, Aminah Garcia, Mark Reed, Joshua Godar, Eric Goldsborough, Kevin Li, Kevin Roth, Abhyudhaya Venkat, Xander Nicolson; K-12 Under 800: 1st, 7: Brock Morris; 2nd-7th, 6: Shoshana Altman, Benjamin Hart, Enrique Perez, Mohinur Miah, Delano Britton, Abdullah Ridwan; K- 12 Unrated: 1st, 61


⁄2 : Andrew


Hanson, David Ma. Chief Tournament Director: Francisco Guadalupe


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After 10. ... Qg5 I felt like this had to be OK for me.


11. g3 Bb7 12. f3 Nxg3 Super interesting.


13. Nh3 Qh4 14. hxg3 Qxg3+ 15. Nf2 Bxf3


During the game I thought it was unclear.


16. e4 f5 17. Bd2 fxe4 18. Qe3 h5 19. Bf1 Nc6 20. Rh3


r+-+-trk+ zp-+p+-zp- -+n+p+-+ +-+-+-+p -+-zPp+-+ zP-+-wQlwqR -zP-vL-sN-+ tR-+-mKL+-


After 20. Rh3 I think I’m just better after 20. Rh3


(Stronger is 20. Rxh5 Nxd4 with an unclear position).


20. ... Qg6 21. Rc1 Rf5 22. Bb4 Rb8 23. Rc5 Nxb4 24. axb4 Rxb4 25. Nd3 Ra4 26. Ne5 Ra1+ 27. Rc1 Rxc1+ 28. Qxc1 Qg1 29. Nxf3 exf3 30. Qc8+ Kh7 31. Qxd7


White has better chances to defend with 31. Qc3.


31. ... Qe3+ 32. Kd1 Rd5 33. Qe7 Qxd4+ 34. Kc2 Qd1+ 35. Kc3 Qxf1 36. Qxe6 Qd3+ 37. Kb4 a5+ 38. Ka4 Qc4+, White resigned.


. Chess Life — July 2012 27


PHOTO COURTESY OF SUBJECT


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