My elementary school had one of the best chess programs for kids in the nation. I joined when I was in the 2nd grade. In the 8th grade, my team set a record for highest score in the national championship that, I believe, still stands to this day.
I was easily the worst player on the team. My chess ranking usually hovered between 800 and 850. The area I lived in happened to be a hotspot for really good chess programs, so the local competition was fierce. When I went to the nationals, I ended up playing against a lot of kids from areas where there wasn’t much competition, so they’d end up playing the same pairings over and over again, which would end up skewing their ratings. You’d have one kids who’s marginally better at chess than the other seven kids in the regionals, and he’s have around a 1600 rating, because he’s just beating the same few players over and over.
Which is how I ended up going to Salt Lake City and winning a match against an opponent who’s chess ranking was nearly double mine. After spending six years watching my teammates regularly come home with trophies taller than they were, while I was empty handed, that win was amazing.
Must have been fucking devastating to the other kid, though.