2016 Training Plan


2015 was an amazing chess year for me. My rating goal for the end of the year was 1800 and I came close--hitting a high water mark of 1753 after the World Open!

There was a time, just a few years ago, when I could never imagine that I would be a 1700+ player. I was so bad, playing for years under 1300 USCF.

This year my rating goal seems equally audacious--1900 USCF. But, if I gain the same number of points this year as I did in 2015, I can just hit it.

In order to do this, I'm taking my training to a new level. I'm working with a new coach, FM Carl Boor, for 2 hours each week. In the past I've worked a bit with coaches, an hour every few weeks or few months. But I'm seeing that the intensity of a 2 hour per week schedule will allow us to cover a lot of territory and really hone in on my weaknesses.

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of resolutions and goals. Here is my list of "big picture" goals for this year:

  1. Play 100 OTB games.
  2. 20% of OTB games in open section, 60% playing up one section, and 20% in my own section.
  3. Play in either the US Open or World Open.
  4. Read 100 Endgames You Must Know
  5. Read Pawn Power in Chess
  6. Read Chess Tactics for Advanced Players
  7. Read an annotated game collection book of an attacking player (Tal, Pillsbury, Stein, etc)
  8. Add the Catalan or another new white opening to my OTB repertoire.
  9. Finish and release to the public my chess trainer (a piece of chess training software I've been working on the past few months).

You'll notice that all of these goals are process goals. In other words, they are things that I have absolute power to do or not do.

Last year, the biggest weaknesses that I wanted to address were:

  1. Lazy/Impatient Thinking: I made definite progress in this, become more careful throughout the game. Addressing this one weakness certainly added the most to my rating in 2015. There is still room to improve this, as just in the past few months I can easily think of a handful of games that I could have won or drawn if I had not carelessly slipped up in winning positions.
  2. Misunderstanding the Position's Needs: In order to address this I reviewed many master games and completed my first pass of How to Reassess Your Chess. I'll continue working on this by reading Pawn Power in Chess.
  3. Fumbling Endgames or Other Won Games: This is another weakness that I made progress on but I have a long way to go. I'll continue working on this by reading 100 Endgames You Must Know and working extensively on ChessTempo's Endgame Practice Trainer.
  4. I also worked hard on increasing my understanding of "dynamic" play and I believe this paid direct dividends. 
The primary weakness that I am currently working on, and which will go on for several more months, is increasing my understanding and comfort with playing attacking chess: smashing castled kings; sacrificing pieces or pawns to open lines to a king stuck in the center, etc. I'll continue this by finishing up How to Attack in Chess, then Prepare to Attack, and then around summer, I'll be ready to study a book of games by attacking player such as Anderssen, Tal or Stein. 

In order to make the above goals more attainable, I've broken them down into weekly actions that I can track, along with other training activities such as tactics, reviewing master games, etc.