Three Strikes...Am I Out?

GM KaydenTroff
Apr 12, 2010, 12:10 PM |

I have had three so-so rated tournaments in a row (not including the Jr. High State Championship which was not rated).  Not what I want--which is AMAZING tournaments (or even really good tournaments would be acceptable). My rating has only gone down a little bit in each one, but it hasn't gone up either.  It is hard when you are traveling a lot and spending a lot a time and money to have your rating go the opposite direction than you want it to be going!!

My rating is right at the point where I am almost always the top of the bottom half of the Open Section in the tournaments that I am playing.  For those of you who don't know, they list everyone in the tournament by rating and then for the first round, the top of the top half plays the top of the bottom half.  This means that I usually get a GM or a high IM that should be a GM (not that I am thinking of anyone in particular, and I am especially not thinking of Enrico Sevillano Smile) for my first round.  I play a good game and I fight hard, but I end up losing in the end.  I am not sorry about the chance to play the GMs.  It is a great experience and one of these days....I am going to win!  For right now though, losing to a GM in the first round puts me playing a lower rated player (than I am) in the next round. This has been the case in all my last few tournaments except one where I got a bye instead Frown. As I told about in a previous blog, playing a lower rated player makes me nervous because I am expected to win, but I am not going to get into that now.  One of the other problems with playing someone lower rated than you is that they like to lock it up because they are happy with a draw.  This is just bad!!  It is good for me in the sense that people are going to keep doing this and I need to learn how to beat it, but I think everyone should play their best and play for a win otherwise they are not really getting anything from the game (except a half point from a higher rated player Smile).  This may improve your rating, but it does not improve your skill, and in the end skill is what you need most, not rating points.

So, after three so-so tournaments and a hope that I have not struck out yet, what have I learned.  Karpov said, "You have to lose at least 200 serious games if you want to be a strong player."  I don't know how many serious games I have lost (probably not 200), but I do know how important it is to learn from my losses.  In my last tournament, I found myself in a drawish position 5 out of 6 games.  My results from those games were one loss, two draws, and two wins.  In the final game, my opponent (who was lower rated than me) offered me a draw.  I considered it because before that point it seemed sort of drawish.  But then I saw something that clearly gave me the advantage.  For the first time, I really understood something that my teacher had been trying for a LONG (very long) time to teach me.  He is constantly saying, "Play simple"  "Look for the simple win" and "You (meaning me) complicate things too much."  I got it!!  I saw the simple win without having to complicate my position to the point that I can no longer defend it (not that I have done that before). 

I think that one of the other things I need to work on (at least according to my teacher) is having a better sense of the danger.  I play aggressive moves that might put me in danger, but I sometimes don't sense that danger as much as I should and then it gets me in trouble.

And then, sometimes I panic that I am going to make the wrong move and then I make the wrong move because I am panicking.  Still working on that one!!

Last time I was struggling to make the next jump in my chess, I did some pretty crazy things...and they worked!!  I am about to do some pretty crazy things again, but I can't really talk about that right now so, as they say on TV, "Tune in next time to find out."

Puzzle time, here is the answer to last blogs puzzle:


This next puzzle has multiple solutions, so I am adding a rule.

This is a help mate problem, so you play both sides. White has five moves to mate black and it has to be with the a1 rook. My rule is: You have to move one of white's knights at least once.





Think you have a really good chess problem. Send it to me and you might see it on one of my blogs.