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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 My Chess Journey to My First National Victory
 Max Chia-hsin Lu
  November 2011

Winning second place in the 2011 U.S. Junior Chess Congress is my first national victory. I went to this tournament on Halloween weekend because I have never won in any national events. I normally stay and play around the Massachusetts area and, in summer, I sometimes take part in a FIDE tournament in Asia. Since this tournament was held in San Jose near my aunt and uncle, the trip was somewhat easier. 

Although there is no standard for rating points, I am comparing Californian players’ ratings to Massachusetts players’ ratings. I feel the players in California have a lot more variance in their play-style and strengths compared to players in Massachusetts. Maybe because California is bigger than Massachusetts there are a lot more players and also a lot more coaches to help these players achieve the next level in their chess career. In Massachusetts, most players play up to their rating and many play over their rating, in the other hand in California I felt like lower rated players were most times underrated and stronger than their rating suggests (maybe because they don’t have that much time dedicated to going to chess tournaments and instead dedicate a lot of time to practice at home) and conversely the people who are higher rated play lower than their rating suggests.
Over the summer, I also went to Indonesia to attend a FIDE chess tournament. The Asian players are highly professional even though they are teens. They dedicate large amounts of time to playing chess and therefore have a lot of experience. They can, as chess players would call it, grind you down with maybe even just a minor edge and push it into a win. In comparison, the chess players in the US would rather not push themselves as much since, I suppose, most of them are amateur and take chess as a hobby, not a job.
Being a student in Concord Academy, I am very busy and feel like there are many things to tend to other than chess. However I have managed to keep my school work as my priority and also keep chess as something I sometimes practice. I haven’t really gotten that much practice except for going to big events so I guess I am not managing my time well enough to leave a lot for chess. I am however running a chess club at my school. It meets every Thursday during dinner at the dining hall. This means that many people come and go and often take a look around at the people playing. We often get 10 different people to show up and currently have 26 active members. I believe the key to making a chess club at a high school is to overcome your own reputation fighting back. Many people might “judge” but at least in the case of my school most people are pretty accepting and they don’t think of chess as that much of a “nerd” thing.
It’s hard to say what role chess plays in my life since I am only fi fteen years old now. But I won’t forget that chess has brought so many chess friends to me and, in the chess journey, it continues to bring me much enjoyment, confi dence and satisfaction.
NM Lou Mercuri helped me annotate the following two games.
Max Lu 1895
Eric Xiao 1182
U.S. Junior Congress 2011
[A05] Larsen’s Opening
1.Nf3 c5 2.b3 Nf6 3.Bb2 e6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 d5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.f4 Nxe5 8.fxe5 Nd7 9.0–0 Qc7 [9 ...f6 was defi nitely necessary here, both to free up his bishop and to ensure a good center] 9...Qc7 10.e4 dxe4 11.Qg4 Here I considered White to have a signifi cant edge 11...0–0 12.Qxe4 Nb6
[12...Rb8 with the idea of ...b6 ands...Bb7 is better] 13.c4! completely shuts down the knight on b6 13...Rd8 14.Qf4 Bf8 15.Nc3 Qe7 16.Ne4 Qe8 17.Qg4 Kh8 18.Rf2! Nd7 19.Raf1 White is winning 19...f6 20.exf6 Nxf6 [20...e5 probably the best try in this bad position 21.fxg7+ Bxg7 22.Nd6 Qg6 23.Nf7+ Kg8 24.Qxg6 hxg6 25.Nxd8] 21.Nxf6 gxf6 22.Bxf6+ Bg7 23.Qxg7# A fast game, but it shows how important active pieces are. In the game Black couldn’t develop his pieces on the queenside, his bishop, knight and rook were shut down and White’s job was just to slowly manuever his way into victory. 1–0
Michael L Wang 1756
Max Lu 1895
U.S. Junior Congress 2011
[A48] King’s Indian Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Since I haven’t played in a while, I forgot the lines I played to this opening 3...Bg7 4.e3 d6 5.Be2 Nbd7 6.0–0 h6?! Questionable move by me [6...0–0 7.Nbd2 b6 develops queenside and prepares to play c5] 7.h3 0–0 8.c4 Re8 9.Nc3 c6 I don’t like these types of positions as Black; I often feel cramped and now my position is going down right out of the opening [9...e5 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Nxe5!] 10.b4 b6 11.b5 I feel like b5 could have been done later more effectively 11...cxb5 12.cxb5 [12.cxb5 is better because it maintains White’s fl exibility in the center] 12...Bb7 13.Rc1 Ne4 Here I was deciding whether to move Ne4 or Nd5 14.Nxe4 Bxe4 15.Nd2 Bb7 16.Bf3 Bxf3 17.Qxf3 e5 18.Bh2 exd4 19.Bxd6 Ne5! 20.Bxe5 Bxe5 21.exd4 Qxd4


After all of that, I feel like now I have a better position than White after struggling in the early phase of the game. My bishop will prove more useful than the knight if I play right 22.Nc4 Bg7 23.Rfd1 Qf6 24.Qxf6 Bxf6 25.Kf1 Re4 26.Nd6 Ra4 27.Rc8+ Rxc8 28.Nxc8 Rxa2 29.Rd7 I only realized I was going to lose a pawn no matter what after Rd7 - poor calculation on my part 29...Rb2 30.Nxa7 h5 31.Rd6 Kg7 32.Rxb6 Bd4 33.Rb7 Rxf2+ 34.Ke1 Rxg2 35.b6 Rb2 36.Nc8 Kf6 37.Rd7 Bxb6 38.Rd6+ Kg5 39.Nxb6 Rb3 40.Nc4 Rxh3 41.Kf2 f6 42.Ne3 Rh2+ 43.Kg3 Re2 Here I thought that I had the edge but because he didn’t play actively I won the game. I am winning as long as I don’t let White sacrifi ce his knight for the two pawns. 0–1