Cracking 2000 (USCF): my point d'appui
I’m a little shocked by my recent USCF rating progress. It’s already been a great past 12 months (2 wins vs NMs in blitz, 1 draw vs a NM in rapid, and a win and a draw vs NMs in the standard control, and one unrated win vs an IM), and my mathematical analysis and projections for 2017 seem too good to believe; but then my baseline rating, where I was anticipating my rating to remain sitting until May of 2017, suddenly shifts upwards by about 50 points. Due to the relative strength of the player pool in Boston, specifically of players under 2000, with respect to the rest of the country, I expected to sit at right about 1770 (±20), mostly because, right now, I can't train as much as I usually do. Last week, I hit 1820 while playing in the Boston Area, as I defeated my first National Master in the standard control. I knew if I stayed above 1800 (1800-1820), there’d be something like a 33% chance that my baseline rating shifted upward. Actually, I climbed (to 1826), and I should have climbed more than I did (to 1843). The likelihood that my in-Boston rating shifted above 1800 isn’t too hard to estimate (probably 80+%), but figuring out where it is going to relax to is difficult without more data. Assuming it is 1820-ish would mean that I will be cracking 2000 before 2017 closes, barring some kind of disaster. That’s a huge boon to my motivation, and it leaves me puzzled about how the brain integrates and consolidates chess information –but I’m not complaining. (Some comments one leaps upward have been made by Albert Silver, in his article for ChessBase, ‘Chess Progress: making the big leap’.)
Here is a snippet from my game yesterday, outplaying a 1958 with exchanges, a very sophisticated and subtle topic that I’ve been studying heavily lately. Unfortunately, I’m still showing signs of decision fatigue, despite supplementing with B12, upping neurotransmitter-supporting foods (e.g., blueberries), and so forth. After my snagging one pawn, I am not even sure I looked at the board after my opponent’s move, looking to the clock instead, as it moved into the rapid control.
Looking at my USCF graph, one might be confused about why I’m so happy to be at 1826, considering I’ve been up to 1850.
Yeah, but contexts matter. Before heading to the Philadelphia Open, I anticipated jumping up some hefty number of points, like 40 or even 50, despite the fact that it was a CCA money tournament, because I calculated my rating to be between 1870-1930 in the average USCF player pool. Therefore, the 72-point jump from 1778 to 1850 was not particularly surprising. It was just a little surprising to have done it in one tournament. The big thing that I’m feeling, but I have no way to mathematically calculate, is that Boston players in the 1800-1999 range are significantly stronger than elsewhere. I think that once a player in the Boston player pool reaches the 2000-ish-and-above strength level (i.e., the strength of play representative of players firmly in the 2000’s), it seems like one’s rating can grow upward at a steady rate, as one trains. For those adult players in the 1800-1999 range, I watch them train, analyze, and study hard, and with virtually no sign of improvement, so far as rating goes. Therefore, I don’t know what to expect as I sit in this rating range, supposing my baseline is now in that range. However, at the end of the year, once I’m done doing my US chess tour –I’m half joking–, if my rating is close to 2000, I plan to fly off to the most overrated pool I know of, so I can hit the milestone.