Eh... Some Reflections on 2016
I don’t blog about my reflections often, but I do reflect. I know some of my friends mostly blog just to reflect, but I like to blog about adventures and travails more than reflections. Anyways, here is a little of my reflection upon 2016. The tl;dr version is, in a word: success.
Black and gold, just in case the Pittsburgh Steelers manage yet another Super Bowl. Lord knows we have a lot of rings and Lombardis lying about, but --what the hell!--, what's another one, so long as we have fingers enough to store a seventh ring?!
2016 was probably more of a relief than anything, but also frustrating. It was a relief because I went to NYC in probably the worst time in 2015, right when my rating was going to float upward, so what happened is that my rating was suppressed by the pool’s underrated status. Anywhere you go, where there is a super strong scholastics program, you’ll find the whole pool suffers in rating deflation. In NYC, my data suggests the pool is typically 75 points underrated. The relief came when I began playing out in the Midwest in early 2016, and I shot up to 1730. With the mirage that my strength wasn’t rising, judging by my rating, I was concerned until that very tournament in Indianapolis. From there, is floated to 1819 almost not stop, hitting Florida, Kentucky, the City of Champions, and some other cities with my partner in crime (i.e., chessmo), until I got to back to Cambridge. Boston is another pool that is underrated, and a little worse than NYC (approximately 100 points). It’s no surprise to me that my rating graph looks like it has the same hiccup as when I was in NYC in December 2015, which is why I really don’t care about ratings that much. My rating has acclimated to Boston, and it is obviously climbing again. When I go elsewhere, and not to a major CCA/big-money event, I fully expect to jump a hundred point within 3 events. There are other metrics to gauge success while in Boston, and all of them indicate that I am significantly stronger now than when I peaked to 1819 a couple of months ago.
2016 saw a number of major milestones for me. Complete garbage controls, rapid and blitz, are within the range of respectability. When we did internal club blitz ratings at the Pittsburgh Chess Club, my blitz rating was always 400 points lower that my standard rating. When I cracked 1200 standard, my blitz cracked 800. It has now peaked in consecutive tournaments and is 1675. My rapid rating has jumped as high as 1629. I’m so bad at these controls, because I lack board vision, practical skills that veterans have, etc. Yet I am somehow surging. Just like a close friend of mine and colleague-of-adult-improvement, I thrive in thought process more than in “road map,” as Hendriks puts it. This is one of the factors making me feel confident in my prediction that I’ll jump an absurd number of points in the coming year. I’m already seeing myself out play much higher rated players, and only trivial glitches are slowing me. Perhaps the biggest indicator that there is a serious surge beginning in my ability is my FIDE blitz rating that will be updated in this next supplement, which will be in the 1800’s, somewhere between 1820-1860!
My score against A-Class players before 2016 was disgustingly dismal, at something like 8% for each the 1800’s and 1900’s. Both currently sit in just under 40%, and that is with my recent run of losses to A-Class players. For those following my blog earlier in the year, I had a heck of an unbeaten streak, which continued on for some time. I also got my first draw against a NM, NM Andretta in South Miami. That occurred in the spring, and in a very unlikely time control (rapid?!). I got my first win against a NM in blitz in St. Louis, but he was floored and my win was a win on time, and in a fighting position with chances for both sides. I got my first clear win against a NM at the Marshall, days before the end of the year. I defeated a 2261 NM (FIDE 2202), which I’m still happy with. I have yet to win or draw a player in the 2200’s in the standard control, which might be more due to my style: being a dynamic and tactical player, positions tend to remain wet enough for stronger players to find opportunities to come back from bad positions. However, it seems I am completely cured of my issue of allowing opponents counterplay, when they are completely lost, which was the item of my first ever blog post on chess.com.
Most of my reflections are numerical, so they would be of no interest to you –or the metrics I’ve created are top secret–, but my partner in crime has inspired me to make some qualitative goals for later, additional qualitative reflection; so I’ll be doing that. I have only ever once shared my goals with anyone, and even though I met most of those goals and resolutions this past year, I don’t think I’ll be sharing them again in the future. I hold myself accountable, and I don’t find much use in having others know what I’m aiming for, since I find my goals attainable and reasonable, even if extremely challenging.
Enough reflecting. Now to the future, ad infinitum plus ultra.
Cave inspectoris: You might be thinking that this is your typical New Year's Eve champagne, but it's not. It signifies that I'd rather pop a bottle before I pop a gat... except when I'm at the chess board, in which case duck for cover.