Monday, October 03, 2011

Out of commission...until further notice

My performance or rather non-performance at the 2011 US Class has prompted me to take time off from chess.

After a 2nd place finish at the Southwest Open a few weeks ago I was hoping to build on my success,  But it was not to be.

Prior to this event it took 23 games for me to amass 3 losses, but I managed to lose 3 out of 6 and had only one win. to finish 1-3=2.  All three losses were to players rated well below me.

Well at least I will be eligible to play U1900.

I apparently even suck at sucking since I didn't even make it U1900 !!


  1. That's unfortunate.

    You know better whether it would be better to take a break, but it's possible for anyone to have a bad tournament.

    Maybe try one more tournament and see if you're still in a funk.

  2. Look at me, I lost to a 1446 this weekend, and she won "The Upset Prize". It was publicly announced that she had won that prize by beating me. lol. And she got a copy of Silman's "Reassess Your Chess" for that effort.

    Still, I only dropped from 1835 to 1823, and I could have lost one of botched wins as White in time-pressure. Actually, both of my wins were rather botched as I missed the truly winning moves, but my opponents were weak enough that I got away with it.

    Figure out where you think you needed to improve and focus on that. For me, it's time-management. I have a fried that knows openings well, gets a lot of losses. He will have winning positions on board and clock, and then offer a draw, or lose from winning positions. For example he can sac well in the middlegame and does, and he can find brilliant sacs in the endgame, but that is sort of the problem, one doesn't really want to sac material in an ending, so he loses by giving too much stuff away sometimes.

    It seems like you hadn't played in a while, so don't be too hard on yourself. A few tactical blunders from being out of shape could easily describe 3 losses.

    For all of the results you've had recently, you'd be quite underrated at < 1900, that's how I'd look at. Your goal is 100 points, so playing in an Open section could build on that rather quickly. In my experience, when I've felt underrated and lost big, I got all of points back and more, very quickly.

  3. I have just a few "perspective" comments:
    1) over half of the players do not win in any given round.
    2) the majority of the players did not come out "ahead" in the tournament.
    3) chess is a difficult game with lots and lots of variables at play both on and off the board.
    4) i don't have any data on this, but i suspect there are a lot of games that are won or lost by a pawn or less.
    5) you put your (mental) ass on the line when you play chess - especially at the higher divisions. you should be proud that you're competing at that high a level.
    6) everyone has set-backs - sometimes multiple setbacks. the winners always regroup
    7) being optimistic doesn't cost a dime.

    take care and best of luck to you!

  4. I looked at your crosstable from the event.

    Actually, you did very well, there is just one problem/explanation.

    You got a lot of draws, and have been getting a fair amount of draws in previous tournaments. This is alright for your rating when you play up, but yeah I guess when playing other Class A players who are rating 1800, this apparently dings your rating in a big way.

    Like I say, it's actually a good result, but this is the problem now that you are playing down in a Class A section. You can draw your games and it sucks your rating back down the mediocrity of the field you are playing it. Draws aren't bad, but if you are beating yourself up over your rating and playing down, then too many of them could sting.

    You need to relax, stop worrying about winning and losing. If you play better, and sharp, then the
    wins will happen. Take it from me, the guy who gets a lot of miniatures as White.

  5. Don't worry about win/lose, we all lose to Rybka. Just focus on finding the very best move in any position.

  6. I have beaten up on myself before and taken all the fun out of it. You may find it helpful to remember to enjoy the game win or lose.

    OTOH there's nothing wrong with taking some time off if that's what you feel like.

    BTW the reason I bookmarked and enjoy your blog is that I'm in the same situation -- wanting to push a little farther and get that 2000 rating.

  7. If you wanted rating points, the Expert section would have been the best choice.

    You were playing mostly down in an A class section.

    You can choose to play down for the prize-money or up for the ratings points when straddling the borders like that, IMHO, but can't really chose to do both.

    Also, with lots of entries, this increases the need for a perfect score to attain prize-monies, IMHO. If it were a small Class A section, okay probably less winnings but a better chance of winning a prize.

    Your blog isn't called - Getting to 2000 and making sweet prizes, it is only suggestive of rating points. 2000 rating was your presumable goal.

  8. A friendly suggestion: at <2000 level dont take a draw until it is shoved down your throat. You might lose some games, but you would learn faster. My personal observation is that you draw many of your games, with players lower than you, take risks and go for a win

  9. here are some suggestions I found useful ....might work for somebody trying to pick up serious chess in his adult life:

  10. Ivan,

    there has already been given quite some good advice to you in the previous comments...

    - do not take the rating too serious, rather try to play good chess at any given time/ in any position/ against any player...

    - rather play against stronger opponents than weaker ones...

    - do not concede a draw against a weaker opponent; just beat him!

    - be more critical against yourself: do not lie to yourself saying 'I had a good performance in the tournament' when actually you didn't even manage to win against one single higher rated player! (for this just look at your acclaimed Southwest Open: you won against a 1625, a 1712, a 1883 and a 1854, and you drew against a 1783, a 2008, and a 1689. Is that really the performance of a would-be 2000+ player???)

    - analyse all your games critically, especially all your losses and your draws against weaker opponents!

    - improve constantly; rather study more and play less tournaments than the other way round; once you have reached a 2000+ chess skill your rating will follow within 1 or 2 tournaments anyway; at the moment you are definitely still not belonging at the 2000-table, sorry.


  11. 3 years ago, being at 1900 was still a dream for you, now you are disapointed at being 1900. You've come a long way, Ivan!

  12. I'm an Expert, and have been reading your blog for year. It's pretty clear to me that if you want to improve - note I said "improve," not "raise your rating":
    - You need to LET GO of your focus on ratings. Your rating, average ratings, the winner's ratings ... just do not think or talk about it
    - NEVER accept a draw unless it's down to bare kings. You draw much too often. What's that supposed to accomplish?!
    - Focus on chess, on the process of playing each game, NOT the result.
    - Deeply and honestly analyze each game, with a focus on strategy, and do not make excuses for yourself. Far too often you look at some shallow tactics and decide "I was winning but I blundered in time trouble." Nonsense.
    - Play better players - play up whenever possible. Analyse the game with those better players, and DON'T try to convince them that you were winning in each game you lose. Just listen and learn.
    - Set and meet intermediate time goals during each game - avoid time trouble. You are not Ivanchuk or Walter Browne.
    - Learn the endings out of Dvoretsky.

    If you do this, you can easily improve above 2000. But the biggest change is the first bullet - your attitude about the game - and I don't understand why it is so difficult for you. As long as you're worrying about how many points you win and lose each game, and each tournament, you never give yourself the space to take risks and improve in the long run.

  13. Read how Kramnik approaches draws and ratings:

  14. Thanks for taking the time to leave very constructive comments.

    It's true that what really matters are:

    -Gaining and retaining knowledge
    -Learning when to apply same
    -Thoroughly focusing on losses to identify and fix weaknesses.

    My plan is to play in the Open section in the Pan-Am Class

  15. Ivan - what matters most of all for you is letting go of the ratings chase. That is the only way for you to get better - to give yourself permission to lose games in the pursuit of exploring and learning chess.

    If Kramnik can do it, with the entire chess world watching, and his livelihood on the line, you can do it.

  16. I just found your blog (I've read most of it in the last day or so). As a casual player that wishes to improve and expand beyond my few friends one day your site has been very interesting. I play computers mostly and I know it isn't the same but a really good book that is really a regimented study/practice schedule for tactics is Rapid Chess Improvement ( Check it out if you haven't. If tactics is the/a issue, I bet the exercises in this book would help. Playing and analyzing can only really go so far. But what do I know. Good Luck and Thanks for sharing.

  17. I got lax in reading this blog and this is what happens? :(

    I hope you come back soon and better than ever!

  18. Hi Ivan--I see you come on to FICS from time to time so I know you're out there!

    You and your readers are invited to submit items to the The Best Of! Chess Blogging Carnival. Deadline is January 27. Hit the link for more details, and please post a link on your blog or chess forum.

    Best regards,

    Robert Pearson