USCF Rating: 1661
Year to date: +131
Coming into the final quarter of the year and my chess tournament schedule will be slowing way down, given the relative dearth of slow time control tournaments in my area.
In October I travelled to Dayton for the Wright Bros Open, where I played in the Open section and faced some tough competition (Experts, 1900's, 1800's). I was able to score a pretty easy win against a 13-something but otherwise had to settle for only another 1/2 point, drawing in the last round to a 1790. But, I had two very competitive games against Experts that I just wasn't able to sustain a high enough level of play to secure draws.
At the Midwest Class Championships later in October I decided not to play up in order to have a shot at the U1800 prize. No such luck. The tournament was a bit of a disaster. I had trouble concentrating and respecting my all lower-rated opponents' games. Of course, this never leads to anything good and I walked away licking my wounds, scoring an anemic two draws in four games.
I walked away from the Midwest Class vowing to go into my next tournament not playing up in order to prove that I could "defend my rating" against lower rated opponents! It's one thing to beat and gain lots of points from players 100-200 points above you. That is a low risk endeavor. But, playing opponents 100-200 points below you, puts you in a pressure situation. It is a 4th and goal with 10 seconds on the clock situation every game! (Apologies to any non-American readers.)
The opportunity to "defend my rating" came in Novemeber when I headed to the Indiana State Championships and signed up for the U1800 section. As you can read here, I did a pretty good job of it, winning three and drawing two to tie for second place. It felt good psychologically and I feel if I can just channel what I did in that tournament in the future, I can avoid situations where I get too full of myself and start thinking that I can win without maximum effort on every...single...move. Or, that lower rated players are incapable of outplaying me.
In addition to my US Chess tournament games, the Chicago Industrial Chess League (CICL) season started up again. I am lucky in that my club, the St. Charles Chess Club, has two teams in the league, an A and B team. I played three CICL games in October, scoring 2.5/3 points. Amazingly, I'm currently undefeated in the CICL after having played a total of five games. The team format is fantastic--much like the US Amateur Team tournaments except the competition stretches over a whole season.
Goals for the 4th Quarter
- Complete Silman's How to Reassess Your Chess, which I started in September 2014. I'm now finishing up the final chapter," Other Imbalances."
- Finish a first attempt at gaining some confidence, and competience inattacking play by watching attacking videos here on Chess.com (GingerGM for the win!) and completing How to Attack in Chess, a fantastic little book on attacking play, which I bought for just $5 from a clubmate. Later, someone pointed out to me that these gems are selling on Amazon for over $70! (If you act quickly, there is one used copy currently priced under $10.)
- Continue focusing on ChessTempo Mixed-Mode problems and working my way through Manual of Chess Combinations 2.
- My last tournament of the year will likely be the St. Louis Chess Club Championship in December.