Still, Morefield had doubts ahead of their Labor Day weekend rematch.
“The question, ‘Am I able to beat him in a serious tournament that usually lasts a few hours?’ was definitely still there, ”said Morefield.
The answer was a resounding “yes”.
In a match of around three hours, Morefield secured the winning position in 26 moves, with Balakrishnan playing until move 44.
Still, Morefield needed at least one win and one draw in his last two matches to win the tournament – which he achieved.
“It was more relieving than anything else,” said Morefield, who has competed in the tournament since 2013, with varying degrees of success. “[Winning the title] only really settled in after about an hour.
A student in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences who plans to major in aerospace engineering, Morefield is excited to begin his career as a varsity player. Last week he attended his first UVA Chess Club meeting. Morefield’s goal is to represent the AVU at the January Pan American Collegiate Chess Championships in Dulles.
During the pandemic, Morefield – who was homeschooled – created a free chess program for budding players which is hosted by the Hampton Roads Chess Association.
The oldest of three siblings, Morefield said it was fun to watch the growth of chess since the release of the hit Netflix show, “The Queen’s Gambit.”
“Chess was already skyrocketing in popularity because everyone was stuck in their homes and turning to online chess, but the [show] has certainly made that worse and has resulted in exponential growth in the number of members on chess websites, ”said Morefield.
Count Morefield as a fan of the series. “They pretty much have everything to do with the chess tournament scene during that very specific period of time,” he said.