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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 2018 K-12 National Championships - Turning it up to 11th
 NM Nithin Kavi
  April 2019

I had not gone to the national grade championship since 7th grade, so I was eager to play this year as a junior in high school. Unfortunately, just before the tournament, I lost several games against lower rated players and my rating dropped to 2172, the lowest it has ever been since I made master in 2016. Despite being second seed in my section, I entered the competition with extremely low expectations, ideally hoping to just get a respectable score and not lose too many rating points. I did not have the slightest idea of what was about to happen.

After a relatively easy game in round 1, I blundered in round 2 and nearly lost. However, in serious time pressure, my opponent played Rg1 while I had a queen on b6, forcing his immediate resignation after I captured it. I had been extremely lucky, and with my recent tournament performance, I was convinced it would not last for the remaining 5 games. But after the close call in round 2, I began to play better, beginning with a comfortable round 3 victory. I ground out a rook endgame in round 4 against Sam Schenk, making me the only person in my section to have a score of 4-0. My only loss of the tournament was round 5, where I was outplayed by the top seed in my section, FM Aravind Kumar. Despite this, I knew that I could still place in the top ten if I played well on the last day. In round six, I had my toughest victory of the tournament against Sophie Morris-Suzuki, putting me at 5/6. In the last round, three people including me were tied at 5 points, while my opponent Victor Chen was leading the tournament with 5.5/6. Remarkably, the other two people with 5/6 drew, ensuring that my last round victory guaranteed me clear first.

I have included my wins in rounds 4, 6, and 7 with full annotations, which were my favorite games of the tournament. There were also my three hardest games of the tournament, as they were all strong opponents who ended up finished in the top ten.