Tipping Point

Tipping Point

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I often use different analytical methods to determine what training has probably proven effective and to determine where I should be in the statistical population, i.e., theoretical OTB rating.  One thing that's been strange is that the numbers had me over 2000 USCF before the ball dropped for 2018.  While I've been over 1900 since December, except for one event, pushing me to 1895 for less than 18 hours, I haven't crossed 2000.  It doesn't bother me so much, since the tournaments I often have to play in are G/60.  There's an absolute love affair with this wretched control in Boston, but I'm not complaining, since it seems like other cities play G/45, which is just gross.  Anything under G/90, and I don't think I can play anywhere near my best chess.  Playing in the U2100 section at the Boston Chess Congress, for example, saw me go unbeaten in the long control.  What surprised me is that looking at my stats, it seems that G/60 is not my only enemy.  Youth players as much damage to my rating.  I noticed this, after I had a look at my recent runs against 2000's, 1900's, and 1800's.

Take a look.

My only two losses were from won positions, where the time control became a big problem.  Against the youngster, Belous, I played the wrong permutation of the winning combination in time trouble.  In the last game against Baliga, I had a winning R ending that I just didn't have time to convert.  The Kopiecki game was the one exception, a G/45 d5 in NYC: my opponent was an older gentleman, who knew his openings very well (getting ahead in time), fell way behind, and then was saved by how little clock I had in the critical position.

Rather annoyingly, fellow Harvardinian, Stoner, made a losing move upon offering a draw when I was in extreme time pressure.  Rather than be a veteran of the game, and know I could drain my clock looking at the position before accepting, I just took the draw.  A completely won position, and the point split in two by the clock.  The only loss to Sullivan was one in which I just pushed too hard; it wasn't that I was outplayed.  In fact, even my lack of scoring against 2200's has not been due to being consistently outplayed as much as not having the time to examine everything I would in a game with longer controls.

The youths are more prevalent in the 1800's.  Meng is one player who has consistently put me into time trouble very early in the game, if that makes sense.  In each of our last three games, he's been able to get me to under 15 minutes when he's used 15 minutes or less.  My coaches are convinced that it is not simply that he is playing quickly because he is a youngster, but that the Chinese youth players either have the same coach or have a shared database with Boylston CC games, and thus have all of my games.  This was virtually confirmed by the fact that Nigel Davies gave me a bit of opening prep that the engine doesn't like, yet the youth knew which moves to play, even a couple moves after the mini-novelty.  Another game against a youth who used the clock against me was Tu: I was way ahead in the game, and fell to a tactic in time trouble.  The time trouble was severe enough that I allowed a tactic for the first time in almost 18 months.  


All of this leads me to think that I'm at a tipping point.  I'm at a critical point where either scoring against 2200's or slightly improving my time situations will result in a huge breakthrough.  My coaches think scoring 15+% against 2200's will move me up 100 points, but the time situation is easily costing me another 100 points.  Playing in lots of long-control tournaments this summer will likely resolve or mitigate both problems.  I'm pretty much convinced I will not break 2000 at the Boylston, between the school-year sleep deprivation, time control, and youth population.  Nonetheless, 2100 USCF looks like a real possibility this summer.  What I haven't pointed to in the stats is what is actually causing the rating supression.  Kids rated U1800 are beating or drawing me, while much higher rated adult players can't seem to beat me.  Much of it has to do with time, i.e., how quickly they play and the short time control.  I'm improving in this control, though.  I recently hit 1800 in rapid, quite a feat for someone who was not long ago in the 1400's.


Embrace the grind.