I guess 4th time is a charm! After playing in the SCCF state championship candidates tournament 4 years in a row and barely missing it each year I finally clinched a spot in the State Championship! I had a great chess tournament as well. My first game I got paired with FM Eugene Yanayt as black but got lucky that he blundered early. Notch me up a win over a 2280. Then, 2nd round I got white vs Gregg Small. If you have been reading my posts religiously, then you may remember I had a couple good games in the past versus him. This one was no exception. He allowed me to setup a nice positional advantage game where he was quite passive. Took me a while to finally break through but I managed to get to a Knight + Bishop + 5 pawns vs Rook + 5 pawns endgame where I ground him down and queened a pawn. Notch me up a win over a 2264.
The next morning I was on board 1 as black vs my friend and sometimes coach IM Jack Peters. I started out with a very poor opening and he was probably beating me in the middle game but then I decided to sacrifice a pawn to get some activity. Jack maybe handled it not the best way and then all of a sudden all my pieces started to fly to good squares and my threats more than made up for my lost pawn. He eventually had to trade off some pieces and let me regain my pawn to stop my threats. We reached a minor piece endgame where I had a Bishop + Knight + 4 pawns vs his 2 Bishops + 4 pawns and objectively I think I was a tad better. We ended up drawing the game though because it was difficult to find a win and I was in time trouble. Notch me up a draw with a 2441. The last round was interesting as it was a logjam at 2.5 points with 7 people and another 6 people at 2 points so it was going to almost certainly come down to tiebreaks to see who snagged the top 4 spots. I got paired as white versus Ron Bruno. We played a very bookish line of the Queens Indian and I obtained a small advantage in space. The downside was that we traded queens and he offered a draw. I went to Randy Hough, the director of the tournament, and asked to see the current tiebreak standings and was delighted to see that I had the 2nd best tie breaks behind only Jack Peters. So I checked out the other games of players in contention and seeing only one decisive looking game, I took the draw. Notch me up a draw with a 2355.
Since our draw was fairly quick at about an hour and half, I stayed and played blitz and just hung out until all games were decided. There ended up being only one decisive games between the 2.5s meaning there was only 1 person with 3.5/4. I was fortunate enough to maintain my second best tie break standing and qualified in the top four spots to go to the SCCF STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!