Learning without rating gains
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Since my last post detailing my play at the Cardinal Open
(Columbus, OH weekend of Jan 27) I have tried hard to play as much OTB chess as my schedule will allow. As I've talked about before, I have a hard time apply the same mental seriousness to my online games, being able to open new tabs while playing, listen to music, watch tv, or even stop thinking about the game entitrely for correspondence games, just doesn't give the game the same flow. Since they I played in the last round of games for the Columbus Chess League (which the team I was board one for, the OSU Chess Club, came in first and I also won first board (in the reserve section)) and have tried to go to monday night meetings of the Central Chess Club which meets in a coffee shop near downtown Columbus. These games are G/20 but that's a comfortable time control for me, especially for a Monday night, and I've had some good results. Most importantly though, I've learned what parts of my game are really lacking. When you have much less time you notice what parts of your game crack under the pressure.Do you suddenly fall for tactical tricks you'd spot in a longer game? Do you feel like your worse coming out of every opening? Or middlegame? For me it's definitely my endgame technique. While I recently held an opponent with 400+ rating points on me to a draw in a rook endgame down a pawn I also lost this following position as black.
This position shouldn't be too hard for Black to draw. The knight guarding h6 and the pawn on h7 prevent the king from coming in, and a threat to the f5 pawn by the rook is defended by the king. There are no bothersome rook checks since the knight defends e5 as well! Unfortunately, in time trouble I moved my knight out and the king easily got in. I lost on time but was doomed by that point. In another game (a longer time control this time) I squandered a pure win by not accurately counting king moves for both sides! This knowledge of my lack of knowledge (as Socrates would say, "I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing") points me in the direction that I need to improve the most. While I don't have all the time I would love to be able to devote to my chess studies (apparently they want you to study and get things done in grad school) I have started going through some positions from Silman's Edngames with a friend of mine, as well as pouring over my copy of How to Reasses your Chess when I can. Below is the fourth round of the recent Tax Day Swiss in Columbus and the win got me a shared place for first in the U1800 with 3/4. The time controls for this tournament were very interesting tournament. The time controls were G/30 for the first round, G/40 for the second, G/50 for the third, and G/60 for the fourth. It was a very new experience for me and I think some people had some problems adjusting. I am usually not in time trouble so I was able to manage each game pretty well.