A Shark In A Rating Tank

A Shark In A Rating Tank

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The member jyuvaraj asks: "I’m a beginner. I wish to improve my game. I’m currently reading the step-by-step method by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden. Will that help? What else should I do to improve?

I’m also inconsistent. I have five wins in a row and then five losses in a row. What should I do to be more consistent?"

Jeremy Silman: The Dutch books jyuvaraj mentioned are highly thought of, but I’ve never read them. However, they sound like they might be useful.

I’ve looked at quite a few of jyuvaraj's games and come to the conclusion that, although he is wiping out players in his rating group (or even a tad better than his rating group), he is regularly losing to those in the 1600 and 1800 ranks.

In our first example, Black has misplayed the opening. Most people would protect the b7-pawn, but jyuvaraj is a very dynamic player and, staying true to himself, he ignores the threat to the pawn in favor of rapid development.

Apparently ManRod420 didn’t like what happened to him, so he decided to get revenge. Note that in our second ManRod420 vs jyuvaraj game, White’s bishops are very nicely placed and apply considerable pressure to Black’s queenside pawns. Thus, White has an edge. Not liking the flow of the game, jyuvaraj shows his courage by taking the pawn on b2.

So far, it looks like jyuvaraj is a natural dynamo. He won game after game by overwhelming his opponents with superior tactics and a deeper understanding of dynamics and attack. However, his “stuff” simply didn’t work when he faced people 200-300 rating points ahead of him.

What sharp tactics you have, 1600-player! The better to eat you with, 1300-player.

This and other games showed me that although he could pick on the lower-rated foes, the stronger ones were a step above him in tactics. This allowed them to defend themselves against jyuvaraj's fierce attacks. There is another problem too: jyuvaraj’s positional understanding, while fine for his rating, isn’t good enough for the “big guns.”

PROGNOSIS: jyuvaraj has talent. In fact, if he really is a beginner, then he has a LOT of talent. However, he needs to improve the things he already is best at. There are always bigger fish in the sea, so if he wants to move up the rating ladder he needs to become a big fish too by improving his tactical skills. He also needs to study areas of the game (positional chess and the openings) where he’s not quite up to snuff.

Study up! You'll be a big fish soon.

Another bit of advice: you are beating the guys in your rating group too easily. Stop playing them and play people 1400 to 1800. Yes, you’ll lose at first, but pay special attention to every one of those losses and, as you improve (which I feel will be quite quickly!), you’ll be blasting them too!

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