I've been hard at work following my current training regimen now for nine months. It's hard to believe, actually, that I've been spending an average of 22.5 hours per week on chess for that long. In the past, I always burned out or got distracted away from chess after 4-6 months of continuous involvement.
You would think I would be a master by now, but in reality chess improvement is a slow, hard process. There aren't any magic bullets (that I have discovered) to make chess easy, contrary to the many chess books published claiming otherwise.
Here is how my progress has shaped up for the three ratings I track, USCF, Chess.com Standard, and Tactics Trainer.
You'll notice in the chart above that my USCF rating (the blue line) has gone from 1311 to 1559 with a peak of 1583 a few weeks ago.
Interestingly to me, my Chess.com Standard rating has been on the decline for the past 3-4 months, even as I make new highs in OTB tournament play. I think this is because I don't give my slow chess.com games the same energy that I bring to an OTB tournament. There isn't a sense of loss (or lost opportunity) at stake. Mainly, I think, I don't fight as hard for the draw when defending. And, I probably also don't calculate as hard and I sometimes even slip into hope chess (but don't tell NM Heisman). I wonder if this means that playing slow online games is not helping me as much as I hoped or if the fact that I don't try as hard doesn't matter to my overall improvement?
Here is a link to a copy of my training spreadsheet, in case you want to look at the particulars. A few tidbits from the last nine months:
* I've attempted 12,533 tactics problems.* I've played 54 Chess.com Slow games.* I've played 60 OTB slow games (mostly USCF rated).* I've read 30 book chapters.* I've reviewed 67 of my own games (often with IM Attila Turzo).* I've gained 243 USCF rating points.
The one year goal (for June 30th) is to reach a 1600 USCF rating--41 points away! The keys for me will be discipline to continue my daily training routine and to play in as many tournaments as possible.