The End Of One Road, Beginning of Another Part 2

GM KaydenTroff

Now it begins, the change.


Now as I mentioned in Part 1 (which if you haven't read click here:, I will now talk about the changes I made from a few tournaments where I stayed the same.


Okay, so starting at the SPICE Cup Open in 2013, what did I change? This was over a year ago, I've changed many things since then, made many mistakes, did some things pretty well, but one thing that I can say started in the SPICE Cup, is how often I didn't lose to much lower rated players or constantly draw them.  This took me a while to figure out, and still I am not perfect, but I both realized the importance of not losing to the players lower than me, and figured out how to beat them more often. It's always a trick to beat lower rated players consistently, I have faced many games, where it just seems like I never had winning chances against players, by rating, I should beat. 


If I had to say one thing about beating lower rated players, first I would say trust in yourself, play good chess. Something so simple, but I think many times for myself I try to force mistakes more against lower rated players than I normally would; it's okay to put pressure and make it uncomfortable for your opponent, but when you make some maybe not as technically good moves simply to take advantage of the fact that your opponent might make some silly mistake... That can make it harder if they do find the correct move. It makes a difference for me, when I play what I think is good moves, and put as much pressure as I can. A good, but also unfortunate thing, is that we all make mistakes, you can't count on this... but you have to count on this. You can't assume you opponent will play perfect, and think ohh... it's just going to be a draw because they will play the best move every time!!! No, put pressure and keep an eye out for any mistakes big or little. You can count on this!! But you can't totally rely on it! You can't play moves, that you wouldn't normally play because they are human, they are lower rated, they will make a mistake--no! Well... sometimes yes :), but in my opinion, it doesn't work out as well in most cases. Play your best! It's the best! Of course there are always going to be times when you have to say, they are lower rated, I can't draw this game, and take some risks that you wouldn't against a higher rated player, but it has to be a calculated risk, not a gamble. There are very few set rules that will in every situation be true; you have to play, you have to try, you have to get a feel for yourself, it comes down to you, but at the same attempt at a tip on this subject:  play good, put pressure, and trust in yourself. 


Here are some games I thought I did a good job with this:



Honestly, I think that was one of the biggest things I did change. It is very true that I still have games I struggle against lower players, it's true! Sadly! Although with that said, on average, I feel I do well against lower rated players (a slight note that is a little cool, I haven't lost to a player below 2350 FIDE in over a year, the last time I did was in July of 2013! Knock on wood... I hope I am not jinxing myself).


Now there has been a lot of studying! I feel I was born with a lot of natural talent, it's true, but truthfully, I am pretty sure I would be out of luck if I left it just to my natural talent. Okay, I work, I study Chess... What I am trying to say about things I have changed--things that have helped me take that next step? Well, I have to credit my coach GM Alex Chernin a lot for my improvement! He has made a big difference in my Chess career. But!! If I had to give one recommendation for things I could have done better so far in my improving, to someone trying to improve too. Study the classics! Capablanca, Rubinstein, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Fischer, Kasparov, Karpov, Steinitz, Lasker, Tal, Petrosian, Etc. These guys knew how to play Chess! Yes, I am stating the super obvious, but one thing I realized about myself, at 2200, and even now I am still working on it, I didn't have a great concept of ideas. Calculation is great, having a good opening repertoire sweet! But these old Champions--these true masters and leaders of Chess--had so many great ideas, and anyone can learn from them. It is a lot, there are a lot of great games, a lot of good ideas; to have a full concept of ALL of them... Are you kidding? Say goodbye life! Plus there are so many different positions in Chess, I can find a cool idea in this game and it might never show up in my own game! Yep it's true. I totally agree, it's a lot, you may never see an idea you find. But I recommend it because you don't play a game when you don't know the rules. You have to learn, and the best players are the best to learn from. Study the games and figure out the rules; they never do this in these positions, why? They always do this in these positions, why? Then when it comes to your game, you know better the rules they had, the ideas they knew, the moves they played, and now--it is your turn! I started studying more intently some of these "classics" about 2-3 years ago, and it has seemed to make a big difference for me.


A lot of these great players released books of their best games, and I personally have found Kasparov's collection series of the best games played by the World Champions "My Great Predecessors" quite good.


Those are the two big ones that I think made a difference for me, two things I have really tried to change and work on, but there is a lot in Chess, so I don't pretend this will solve all your problems, I mean there isn't any one absolutely perfect way for everyone. I personally can't credit enough those that have helped me as I have had to fix mistakes and improve over the years. My last tip--one I believe many can agree with and that has been said by many-- is to work hard. This is something I always have to try a little bit harder at, work harder and harder. For ways to improve it can be different, you can substitute this for this, that for that, but there is no substitute for putting in the work. The path may change a little or a lot for different people; you can't control the path, but you can control if you walk it. Work hard. Simple to say, but what I believe is the key.


Okay, so now let's go back. I mentioned at the beginning, 2013 SPICE Cup. After some disappointing tournaments, this was my first one since the US Championship that went really well! I'd like to pretend it was all skill, but I admit there was a little luck in a few of my games. In the tournament I ended up with 6.5/9, tying for first, and getting my 2nd GM Norm. I was super excited about it all! The reason I bring this tournament up specifically though is because I felt this was the beginning of improving and getting to where I am now, I still have a lot of work, but this tournament, and the changes I mentioned was the beginning of the next stage. 


I started this little blog series to try and condense my last year and a half. The first one I talked about some of my struggles, this one changes I made, and... I have only gotten from May of 2013 to October of 2013. At this rate I may recap this last year... in a year. Hopefully though it will not take that long because I am planning on recapping the next, well... up to this date, this time right now...very soon! Well, the "right now" when I write that one. It should be hopefully soon. My plan is to recap it less by words and more by games! Crediting both my opponents for moments or games they played, and myself for similar.   


See ya guys then!


Here are some games from the 2013 SPICE Cup Open: