Morefield has since continued to rise in the chess world. Over Labor Day weekend, he defeated two former state champions en route to winning the Virginia Closed State Chess Championships, contested in Glen Allen.
“Occasionally it’s possible to win a tournament when all of your main competitors play each other and you just end up playing random people and winning,” Morefield said, “so it definitely felt a lot better winning the tournament when I had to defeat my two main competitors along the way.”
A master-level player, Morefield entered the tournament with a rating of 2,337, second-best in the field. Yet he was still considered a heavy underdog, due to the fact that Praveen Balakrishnan, a grandmaster-elect with a rating of 2,616, was also participating.
In the last in-person tournament he played in prior to the pandemic, the Virginia State Scholastic Championships, Balakrishnan dealt Morefield one of the quickest losses of his career, beating him in just 19 moves.
A few months later, Morefield defeated Balakrishnan in an online match when Balakrishnan’s attempt to use the same strategy he had used in the 19-move win backfired.