The Cross Roads at Getting better at the game
I have a choice whither to start to make chess a big part of my life or focus on other things that I have been neglecting. I could do a little of both, however, I do not believe I will achieve what I would like to accomplish in chess if I go that route, so I don't know.
Anyway, besides this, I've found that constructive criticism of your games teaches you a lot, and learned from personal experience that 1.) I lose a lot with black with the Sicilian Defense Accelerated Dragon; 2.) I do not take advantage of opportunities I have and make dumb moves instead; 3, I make silly repeated mistakes that should have been fixed a long time ago.
Those are the main three. Dan Heisman suggests I write this in what he calls a personalized study book to go over every few weeks which is suppose to minimize those mistakes. So, I'll try it!
In the past I have been a part of the Prodigy Program and found that the ideas taught in that course was the main reason why I stopped just playing random opening and instead started to develop my own opening repertoire to allow for a more consistent system at winning. I noticed when I first started playing 15 years ago on yahoo chess I just made random opening moves all the time and at first lost a lot with no idea why I lost, but I just kept playing. When I met my chess friend at Starbucks we started playing OTB, him being a lot better than I, I improved a lot, but at the same time, the environment wasn't optimum because he is probably rated 400 points higher than me, and the time controls where too fast for me, also, I frequently played against opponents where rated a lot less than I at the time, and still are, and I would probably have even less problems with beating them now, but that is not the point of this blog
After playing those games OTB with my friend and others (I forgot to mention that there is one opponent, who is my match, who I am at odds with, and probably learned a lot by playing him, but before I met that guy, I was still improving a lot simply by playing the guy who was a lot better rated than I was, and still is) I created a new yahoo account and clobbered a lot of people in chess and got rated to about 1300. I obviously learned a lot. That was 10 years ago. 8 years later I joined chess.com and my blitz rating was only 1000 or so, which it stayed at until I realized I needed more time. Once I started playing 20 minute games my rating went up 400 points on blitz, and decided that playing 3 minute games for a long period of time, wasn't ideal for me, as I was still learning, and by my own nature, take a long time to make my moves, and probably should have been playing at slower time controls. Dan Heisman says if I take too long to make my moves then I possibly have something wrong with my thought process, which is why I am rereading that chapter in his book.
I plan to re-enter the prodigy program next year in Jan, to get the full years worth of lessons, and start fresh, hopefully at the 1500 group, as I will be using this time to go over the Amateurs Mind, the textbook for the 1200 book, which was the group I was in before for 2 years, it's just last time I started late and needed to play catch up from the beginning, but now I have the opportunity to start the next rating group at the beginning.
A couple of things need to be done before I re-enter the prodigy program at the 1500 level. I need to finish reading Silman's The Amateurs Mind, and review the material on the 1200 section, and the homework, as well as improve my tactics, as that is given, tactics is something every chess player should devote to each day to improve.
I have a lot of side projects though. It's interesting, Chess, is like World of Warcraft, because it is a game filled with a bunch of side projects. I personally would like to learn the Kings Gambit. That is a side project that will take a lot of my time, but I feel it will be worthwhile because I enjoy playing that opening as white. Of course the other side project is to study the Caro-can, as that is the black opening that I know least about, and I am starting to encounter players that play this and I don't want to always have to make up something on the fly with this type of commonly used opening.
Another one of my side projects is learning some blitz weapons only for entertainment value, seeing how I play blitz, and have encounters moves that totally bypass those opening repertoires various times, but I will learn it anyway, just for fun!
Then there is the study of the Pawn Structure chess book that I have been putting off, that I have been told I should study before training openings. After reviewing certain chapters in the book, I was able to understand why strong players would not like to play lets say a normal dragon. So that book has a lot of info in it that should be learned. It's just that I have so many things that I need to do that I don't have enough time for them all hahaha. I have to learn to be more efficient. For the first time in my life I have to learn how to be efficient, because most of the time I just half do things and turn out to be good regardless, but now in order to have enough time to do other things I have been neglecting, and at the same time still have time for chess, I need to learn to be more efficient!