Monday, September 25, 2006

That's it!

I have played 10 tournaments in a row in which I have not been able to get off my floor. It's time to stop playing so much and figure out how I can improve.

When I started playing rated chess I got my rating up to the mid 1800s pretty quickly, then I it was stuck from 1600 - 1700 for almost 15 years. Then last year I managed to get my rating up to 1880, but since then I have been stuck at my floor of 1800 (This is a floor based on prize money, not rating) . If not for the floor I would be back in the 1600-1700 range. Is history repeating itself? It might be another 15 years before I see my rating go over 1800 again!

Encouraged by the results of last year I decided to set a goal for myself. To get to 2000 by the February 2007 rating supplement.

My plan

Phase 1) Play lots of rated games
Phase 2) Go over the games with a coach and study (tactics mainly , endgames, grand master games in the openings I play)

I am done with phase 1 I have more than enough games to go over. I didn't expect any rating gains, but a few points would have been nice. There were many instances where it came down to the last round. May be I should start skipping the last round!

I am going to look at my last 100 games and pay special attention to the last 50 losses.

For the month of October I plan to play in two main events, The Midwest Class in Chicago and the Governor's Cup in Sioux Falls. I will be taking first round byes in both so that's only 8 games. I also plan to play another 6 games at local chess clubs. That's a total of 14. (I averaged 28 games/month for last 3 months).


  1. You can analyze all you want, but you have to play to get better.

  2. You need a good coach, with a proven track record, who is training all the local talent in your area? This is the person you need to talk to. Remember one thing it is the quality of the lessons you are getting not the quantity. If you buy a bunch of cheap things in the end you have nothing of value, if you buy valuable things you have something of value. Make sure your lessons are of value. Ask yourself have you really increased your understanding with your current coach? What part of the game has he helped you most with? Does he give you a training plan? Does he push you to follow it? Also do not forget that a strong player is not always the best teacher, make sure the person teaching you can articulate idea's in ways you can understand. I hope you get your goal! Good Luck!

  3. You need to play MUCH fewer games, preferably at much slower time controls, like 45/2. Create your own tournament, if necessary. The number of games you're playing, and the time controls you're playing ... I doubt you have time for a single serious think in the whole month. And you're making up for this lack of quality with quantity. It just can't work. Maybe you should try to play some correspondence chess for a while, to train your mind to think more deeply about chess. This is serious advice.

  4. I agree with all of the comments here. I myself played once in September at the Iowa Open where Ivan was playing too in same section as me. In Ivan's second round game he was black and when his opponent played e4 after dxc4 Ivan should have immediately played e5. This I suspect is a lack of understanding of the opening. I watch Ivans games cause I want him to improve and do better.

    Jon burgess (National Master)

  5. Jon,

    Thanks for the advice.

    In that game I had a mental block. In a previous game played long ago I had a similar position where I had to lose a tempo because I had developed my bishop to d6 instead of e7. In that game e5 was not an option. So when confronted with a similar position I didn't even look at the possibility e5 until after I had made the move.

  6. If you play and make the same mistakes you will not improve. It is important to address your weaknesses.

    Practice does not make perfect if you are practicing the wrong stuff.

    Well I guess you will be perfecting the wrong stuff.

  7. As someone who had a similar goal, and has been over 2000 and back under, numerous times, my plan was similar to the advice given in this blog. I was fortunate to have several masters take me under their wing when I was just a class B player. They focused mainly on the end game, and stressed the need to play (but not overdoing that). Even when I was at my goal of expert, I got some advice from several senior masters in the Midwest. Again, they stressed the end game and quality rated games. I believe chess, like so many things, seems to come quite easy to some, but for me it was a lot of hard work.

    I'm curious how you got a floor rating of 1800, when you were below that in 2005? I thought you had to get to at least 2000 in order to have a floor of 1800.