The Journey Begins

May 26, 2009, 9:11 AM |

Greetings!  I'll be using this mainly to share my personal chess adventures. I've enjoyed the game off and on for most of my life, but I've decided recently to take it a lot more seriously -- that's the only way I'm going to get any better.  I've been playing a fair amount with CMX lately, and due to my typical tactical blundering I lost five out of six games at one point, ending a few days ago -- I knew I needed to change my approach.  I can't really improve much(I'd estimate my playing strength to be about 1000) without getting better at tactics.  I'm a much stronger player positionally than I am tactically, which usually ends up in me blundering away the game in the opening or getting a winning position and losing it in the endgame unless it's completely overwhelming from a material point of view. 

My goal is to eventually reach Expert rank(USCF 2000+), which most chess writers, including my personal favorite IM Jeremy Silman, say is achievable for almost anyone with a consistent, moderate amount of work.  Obviously most important is for me just to improve and be the best I can, but that's the ultimate target I'm aiming for. 

My personal training plan will be as follows:

** Several bullet(1 0) games for every standard one I play, for the purpose of increasing rapid sight of the board and forcing my brain to recognize tactical patterns instantly.  My methodical thought process is my greatest chess weakness.  I've already noticed a small improvement after just a couple days and a couple dozen games(almost all of which I've lost, usually on time as I'm still working on getting myself to just react instead of constantly thinking). 

** Developing the discipline to check each move for potential blunders in all my standard games, and committing to a serious post-mortem on each one I play, win, lose, or draw.  In particular, I'll be looking at any obvious blunders, opening mistakes, and espescially focusing hard on any endgames I reach. 

** Mental discipline to work as hard as possible at the board in all my games.  Practice how you want to play, in other words.

** Regular use of the tactics trainer to work on my weak points. 

** Playing with a physical, regulation-size board for all my standard games etc. to replicate tournament conditions as closely as possible. 

** Continuing use of healthy lifestyle habits(diet, exercise), as mental health and physical health cannot be separated and are related in many ways. 

I'll report changes in my ratings here regularly.  I've got a little less than 3 weeks until the next local USCF event, which will be my first(about five years ago, I scored 2 wins and 1 loss in an unrated beginner's open, but I have no rated games).  There's a regular monthly 3-round Swiss event that I plan on starting off with to get some experience and establish an official rating, at least for the first few months -- after that we'll see how I progress.  I'll also be playing on ICC to get some different human competiton in addition to my CMX games.


CMX Standard -- 992(provisional, 16 games)

ICC Bullet -- 1084(provisional, 10 games)