After several days of preparation for the prestigious 2019 Barber Tournament, my dad and I were flying to Orlando, Florida where the tournament was hosted. In order to qualify for this prestigious event, I had to fight some very serious matches against tough opponents in the Texas Scholastic “Superstate” Championship. After winning the Middle School Championship in March, two months later I played the Elementary School Champion in an eight round match and was lucky enough to win my way through to the Barber Tournament.

I have never before played in such a prestigious tournament, so I was carefully following instructions during the opening ceremony. I saw many of my friends from other states and was very nervous about the tough playing field in the middle school section. There was a minimum of fifteen experts and ten masters playing in the section.

My first round went quite well. I played a much lower rated opponent and managed to win although I missed a couple opportunities to win even faster. The first game ended very late so I ate quickly and got ready for the next rounds.

In my second round, I played the middle school champion from Florida. I managed to play very well, but played too quickly and made few mistakes at a couple critical moments and that cost me the game. I was disappointed, but I tried my best to shrug that loss off with some delicious food at one of the hotel restaurants.

I was very happy with the way I played in my third round against an 1800, playing almost the best moves till the end. I had prepared a couple lines to face my opponent and that gave me a pleasant advantage out of the opening which I managed to convert easily.

For the fourth round I was paired against a nearly 2400 rated FIDE Master from Ohio and played well out of the opening because of my in-depth preparation for my match against him. I had several opportunities where I could’ve played better, but I’m very happy with the way I played during that game and learned several important lessons even though I lost.

In the fifth round I played the middle school champion from Alabama and found several tactics which gave me a decisive advantage. Winning that gave me a much-needed confidence for my final and most important round of the tournament.

For this round I was paired against a National Master from Delaware with the black pieces. I tried to equalize the position as quickly as possible and found myself with a nice advantage, but messed up during some of the lines that I calculated and the game ended in a draw.

Overall, I feel that I didn’t perform the best that I wished that I could’ve, but considering the fact that I had come back from a long vacation from India recently, I thought my performance was acceptable. The closing ceremony was a couple hours after my final game. They held a trivia contest where people with the right answers got special gifts that the hosts of the tournament had provided. Although I didn’t think I would win anything, after all my total score was only 3.5 out of 6, somehow my name was announced along with teammates from Texas who competed in the Denker and National Girls Tournament of Champions and we were each awarded some money to spend at the US Chess store. I bought a couple books and after which my dad and I headed back home to Austin, Texas.

My tournament was an amazing experience and I hope I will be able to achieve more like this in my future. I hope to participate in and win the middle school championship again for another chance to play in this amazing event.

I would like also like to thank all the people who helped and contributed to make my experience at the Denker tournament as awesome as possible and thank you to the Texas Chess Association for allowing me to share my experience!