Don't be discouraged by the paragraphs of text! Two games are at the bottom :)
Last month was my 25th birthday, Bastille Day to be exact. My quarter life crisis manifested in a wish to myself that I would one day be a national master. Considering my USCF is 1625, this was a pretty lofty wish. As the day got later and later I decided to turn my wish into a goal. I really believe that many people are capable of reaching NM status and that if I devote myself to accomplish this that I can achieve it. GM may be out of reach, and probably FM or IM, but hopefully with a strong will and lots and lots of improvement, I can achieve NM. My rating continues to fluctuate so step one is to stabilize my current rating (performance is typically ~1800 in slow format) by playing more chess. Step 1 and a half is recognize my immediate weaknesses and do my best to improve them. Many of these I can point out without too much thought. 1) I devote far too much time to opening studies. Learning book moves 10 or 20 moves deep is pointless because in my games we don't ever stay on book this far! And when we do I've made the last book move I know and don't understand the position so have no clue how to proceed. I need to try to truly understand the positions I get into. To this end I purchased IM Silman's How to Reasses Your Chess V4. I've only got a few chapters into it so far but can already tell it's kicking my butt and really pointing out the flaws in my game. Hopefully this book will help lift my game to the 1800-2000 level. The next step will require more help but let's take things as them come. 2) I need to play more OTB chess and need to change the kind of online chess I play. All of this overhauling of my chess game is complicated by the fact that I am starting graduate school this fall. This is going to take pleeentty of my time. I'm already prepared to devote 98% of my time to that more important enterprise and am pretty sure I'm underestimating how much time and effort it will consume. If I can get away with .01% to chess over the next five to six years then I guess I should be happy. My goal is to try to make 1-2 Thursday night club meetings in Columbus. These are 20min games but I think that's a long enough time control to sit and seriously think about the position for a little. Additionally I am aiming to participate in 1-2 long time control tournaments a year. I already have my eye on one in nearby Mason, OH in November. Since I know that school will take the majority of my time, and that my last year-year and a half will be engulfed by thesis writing and defending as well as passing my candidacy exam at the end of my second year, there will be times where I will be unable to stick to this ideal # of games played. Therefore I've given myself a ten year period in which to accomplish this goal. My hope is that in the first five years I can get to 2000. And the second five years can be devoted to getting above 2200 and attaining NM status. I also need to change how I play online. Lots and lots and lots and lots of blitz and bullet chess is not good for my overall game. As part of my game and to help my tactics is fine, but by playing longer time controls online I can augment my game with serious thinking games without having to go to tournaments and clubs.
To that end I went to chess club the other week ready to play my heart out!...and promptly played some of the worst chess I have in a long time. I managed to eek out two wins a draw and a loss against 3 ~1300 and one ~2000. Not so bad on the face of it but one of the wins was after I blundered my queen early on and managed to defend long enough that my opponent blundered back late in time trouble. And I had lots of chances in the draw that I did not take advantage of. The loss was instructive since it came at the hands of a strong player. I let them get far too much pressure early when I allowed f2-f4-f5 and was pressed to defend. For a long time. Since I wanted my games from the first time I went to this club and hadn't taken them down, this time I recorded the games until I had around 4min on the clock and then devoted myself entirely to the game. This is the one place where strong blitz skill came in handy. Below are two games, the loss against 2000 John Stopa and my win using the Dutch. The games don't go until the end since I stopped writing the moves down but by that point in the game the end result is clear.