A New Approach & Asserting My Goals

A New Approach & Asserting My Goals


Well, this is a blog so I might as well share my crazy thoughts with y'all from time to time yes?    Yes.  I'm glad we are agreed. 

These last few months have been awesome, and tough, and dedicating myself to chess required stepping away from my chess studies.  Sounds counterintuitive?  It was for me too.  But I think I'm finally nearing the point where my time will be freeing up for more in depth studies once again.   Don't know what I'm referring to?  Well, I quit my job for chess so there's that.  And I fixed up my house and moved out and pursued being a cornhole champion again which is time consuming, but it's been fruitful so far so I can't complain.    

But yeah, transitioning to this new life has taken a lot of energy and actually pulled me away from my studies a little.  I even skipped my favorite weekly tournaments in Parma for almost 2 months?? (double questions marks because that's dubious!)  But now I'm settling in and I'm actually happy (imagine that?).. actually.. scratch that...  ELATED!  This new life is in fact everything I hoped for and more and it's just the beginning.  And despite being pulled away from studies, I now have more resources at my disposal to improve my chess than ever before!  

My new boss at Progress With Chess is actually NM Michael Joelson who has already influenced me in some exciting ways, like my decision to switch to 1. e4 resulting in fun games like this one in order to further develop as a chess player.  I could write a whole article just on this opening switch and the logic behind it (and I intend to).  Also, he sometimes looks at my games while I'm at work! yay work percs!) Before this switch my coach and I would meet once a week, if we were lucky, and look at a game or two.  Now I have constant access to Michael Joelson and insightful dynamic and crazy tactical chess mind.  I feel he's already influencing my chess and I'm excited to see where it leads.

NM Michael Joelson featured in Cleveland Crains in 2007.  My hero!

In addition, IM Calvin Blocker is in Cleveland and giving lessons again.  I have already adopted his opening recommendation, the Smith-Morra Gambit, and well I'm excited about it.  I do believe that part of improving rapidly is taking full advantage of the resources around you.  Is the top player in your area a crazy tactician who plays the Sicilian Najdorf expertly?  Then by all means play that way and learn all you can from them!  I believe that doing so, will help you to assimilate some of their strengths, or perhaps narrow the gap on your weaknesses, making you more difficult to exploit.

Goals & Rating

So that's where I'm at.  I'm looking to grow as a chess player.  I'm looking to finish settling into this new life, and then take things to a new level.  In terms of goals?  Well, I have two major goals I guess you could say.  IMO, goals can be results oriented or they can be productive.  I actually find that productivity related goals are more productive haha.  But what I mean is that you might say your goal is to gain 200 rating points.  Okay, fine, but that in and of itself is fairly meaningless.  The question is how?  Well, maybe you say to start I will attend one tournament a week and read through one new book on middle games.  Well, that's a productivity goal, and though it will help you improve at chess there are no guarantees it will immediately result in rating points.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I do in fact think about rating some, though I think if you care about rating, the best thing to do is focus on improving and NOT your rating.  Rating, to me, is only one indicator of your strength as a player and only one indicator that you are improving and not the best one probably.  This is why I like to celebrate the smallest gains, like maybe taking a draw or win on a player that I never have before, or solving tactics puzzles slightly faster than I used to, or sometimes its just learning a new middle game plan or learning a new idea or pattern.  These small things add up though and when you least expect it your rating jumps up.  If you spend time thinking about your rating, then you will feel frustration and perhaps that will weigh on you enough to actually stop you from getting that rating jump due to feeling defeated by the process.  But chess, chess is all about patience is it not?  So with ratings especially, I feel it is best to trust your process, not your rating.  

That being said, I'd like to break 1900 USCF by end of year.  Can I do that?  Well, I'm not entirely sure, but its good to have a goal so I'll go with that.  I'm okay with missing it though.  It's just something to shoot for.  I did this with 1500 and 1600 as well which both took me a long time to reach and then suddenly I shot up to 1791 USCF out of nowhere.  Now I have slowly been falling again back down to 1653 I believe, but I do chalk that up partially to my life changes and especially my opening changes.  Yeah, when you change up your entire opening repertoire you are likely to take some more losses.   And honestly, if I have to choose between rating points and growing as a player, I will take the latter every time (not a ladder mate!  Latter!  not everything is about chess.. sheesh.. hehe)

My Current USCF Rating Graph

But yeah, I am excited.  I am back.    I am going to hit it hard again.  For 2019 I have decided to choose a chess focus for my morning studies for each month.  January, for example was Switching to 1. e4.  This included studying openings quite a bit and playing blitz games and learning one new move; even consulting others on what lines and plans to choose in this completely new repertoire. I have others goals too.  My tactics must must be improved so February it is back to Woodpecker Method.  March I am planning on studying Mayhem in the Morra by Marc Esserman.  

I have come a long way, but now I need to get better if I'm going to turn my advantages into wins.  That's probably one of my biggest weak points.  I'm going to invest in some lessons from IM Calvin Blocker as well, and possibly some more from IM John Bartholomew.  His lessons really really enlightened me.  Perhaps they will again?  And yeah I have a long list of strategies and books so I will not decide on each month now but I will dedicate myself at the first of the month to one theme.  

You can follow my journey on Twitter if you like.  I post there pretty much daily.    Well, that's all I got.  Thanks for reading if you did.

Peace Out Girl Scout,


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