2021 US Class Championship Takeaways

Updated: May 31

The tournament took place in Houston, Texas - my home area. This tournament was another struggle. Although I did not get the results I would have liked: 4 draws and 1 win, I came away from the tournament learning a lot about what I need to do to prepare better for future tournaments. I played in the Expert section this tournament (2000-2200). I ended up playing 3 1900 players and two 1800 players. They were all kids about 12 years old or so.

In my first round game I missed several winning chances and just didn't go for the win. I also blundered in the endgame. This game rattled me a little bit and after drawing the game, I never regained my confidence for this tournament. I went from 2151 to about 2136 after this tournament. The road to 2200 is still there, but I need to focus on some important areas before climbing back up again. I will take a break from tournaments for about two months to work on critical areas of my game. I feel my confidence will come back stronger than ever if I put in the effort. My goal is to spend 10 hours of week studying chess for now.

I learned that I have been flip flopping my openings too much. I will spend the next couple of months developing an opening repertoire with 1.c4 as White and other openings for like the Chebanenko Slav as Black. This will be the first time in my life I have actually worked out strong opening lines with ChessBase. It seems like most of the talented young players these days have at least basic opening files, so I need to keep up with the trends and times.

I learned that the 30 second increments are a little confusing for me. I have played mostly with 5 second delay my whole life. To improve this issue, I will train a couple games a week with 30 second increments.

In my lesson with my coach IM Giorgi Sibashvili, we went over how to play against younger players versus how to play against older players. As an example, I learned that it is probably wise to keep the positions closed and avoid opening theory against younger players.

I am currently reviewing my tournament games on https://www.twitch.tv/chesscoachjohn. I may add some more tournament related content on my YouTube channel soon as well: https://www.youtube.com/c/johnhendrick64. Above is a photo of me playing a talented young player. The game ended in a draw. I hope you all are staying safe and well. I'll keep you posted on future tournaments!

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