Cracking USCF 1900: Right Above It
“You’ll know you’re at the top when only heaven’s right above it.”
This will be a simple and short update on my USCF standard rating progress. Last weekend, I cracked 1900. Even as you read this, I’ll probably be on my way back down below, because I’m playing an Action tournament, and the intermediate controls are absolutely horrendous for me. Well, they usually are. Actually, a week ago at the Waltham Chess Club, I nearly had a walk-off 2200+ performance. Two moves turned the performance into a mediocre one, losing a game that was drawn vs a 1999, and drawing a game that should have ended with me mating an 1810-ish player.
Here we are.
Last weekend’s Massachusetts Open marked, I think, my third consecutive 2150-ish performance, giving me my second first-category norm. With results like that, I can’t imagine it’s a complete fluke that I’m over 1900. I do feel fortunate. A young friend of mine took 200 games to move beyond the 1800-1899 rating band. While grateful for the progress, my math suggests that my rating should be somewhere around 1980, based on various metrics I track and other USCF/FIDE players I track with similar methods; and also based on semi-linear regressions on my training-to-progress data correlation. As fantastic as this all sounds, it seems like my rating could really take off: the extremely poor middlegames I get out of openings are beyond terrible, often seeing my opponent a 100-200 centipawn advantage, even though I’m white! I’m so bad at openings that I’ve completely given up on trying to play normal chess after 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6. In two games within one week, I played 3. b3, scoring 2.0/2.0 vs a 1960 and a 2050. I’ll take it. Anyways, assuming I can play as well as I do now but with much more even middlegames, the USCF rating calculator seems to suggest that I can move my rating up over 2100, with the improved results against the same field of competition. It’s a little hard to believe, especially for someone a little surprised to have ever gotten over 1900. Only time will tell. I expect my poor results against 2200+ players has been primarily due to my joke of an opening “repertoire.” On the bright side, it’s now clear to me, and it should be to others, that one need not do a thing with openings until up around the 1900-2000 USCF range.
As I get ready for the National Open’s U2300 section, I’m pushing hard on openings, beginning this weekend. I do have a couple secret weapons that will quickly move me from opening to endgame, which is my absolute strongest phase of the game. I’m looking to unveil them at that tournament, if possible. We’ll see what happens.
At 1900, I do feel like I’m at the top, considering that there are only titles right above it.