Now that we have successfully avoided the trap of deciding moves without consideration to our ratings, let us now focus on how we can benefit by using the rating system to our advantage. By looking at the rating system as a ladder, each rung representing a different skill level, we can create tangible goals for ourselves. For example, we can say "I will 'hit' the 1900 level by the end of next week," or "I will remain a consistent 1900 level player by next month." We will always know whether or not we hit our goals or not.
And of course we are to engage in this thought process after our game, preferably at this exact opposite time we play! This allows us to objectively evaluate our progress on a month to month basis. This can easily done by utilizing the "Stats" function on Chess.com. If you do not play on this site or cannot access this function, a journal will work just fine. Recording progress allows us to research our study and playing methods to see if we need to correct our course or not. Bear in mind that checking our progress in a shorter amount of time may lead to exactly what we are trying to avoid, obsessing over ratings!
So what are your chess goals? Do you wish to become a master? A pretty good club player? A casual Internet player? Our rating serves as an excellent guidepost for whichever goal we are pursuing. They tell us where we stand in the grand scheme of things. Ratings are, however, a double-edged sword. Use them wisely. Mind the sharp edges while methodically destroying your competition!
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