Lessons from my 1st chess.com turn-based tournament: Introduction or 'going from 1100 to 1500'

Jan 5, 2016, 9:05 AM |

My first chess.com turn-based tournament was the long-titled "Evolutionary Man: an In-Depth Journey on the Intellectual Progress of Man Through Chess and Wonder". It started in July 2015 with 48 registered players and ended on January, 2nd, 2016, after 30 games in 3 rounds, with time control of 48h/move. The required rating range was 900-1300, and my rating at that point was 1053.

My main goal here is my own improvement! However, I hope that his series of posts may be of any help to other member in that rating range (1000-1300). I intend to analyze every game I played in that tournament, because I believe it is possible (and necessary) to extract a lot of instruction from them, even if they are not high-level games.

Being a weak player, I am aware of many of my weaknesses:

  1. Tactical oversights: missing opponents tactical threats, problems with "counting", losing material after a long line of exchanges.
  2. Strategical inaptude: not really developing plans, ignoring what the position is asking for.
  3. Lack of endgame technique: particularly when it involves many pawns; difficulty calculating pawnbreaks and exchanges.
  4. Faulty thought process: not going through a systematic series of steps; overseeing candidate moves (both mine and opponent's); cutting the analysis too short.

Remember that we are talking about turn-based games here! I mean,those points are definitely terrible in my rapid play, but I should expect to commit fewer errors when I have 48 hours to think about each move. The fact is that my thought process has been chaotic, and a lack of patience many times made me move in a very short time, as if in a 5 minutes time control.

Since the beginning of 2015, I have started an intense study regimen with the goal of improving some of my flaws.This includes:


  1. Daily repetition of easy tactical patterns (at least 100 patterns in 10-12 minutes);
  2. 30 minutes of puzzles a day (sometimes taking 15 minutes on a particularly hard one);
  3. Exploring opening theory, developing a repertoire;
  4. Trying to learn endgame technique (very hard to do by myself - I feel the need of a coach here...)
  5. Reading through books on positional play (Silman's famous How to Reassess...)
  6. Going through annotated master games, trying to guess the move;
  7. Analysing own games.

The items #6 and #7 above were consistenly ignored! Because of my lack of knowledge, I find very hard to learn by reading annotated games (sometimes I feel that my memory is the problem). And I do believe that analysing my own games is the most importante part, and yet I constantly put it off. Lazyness? Maybe, but also that I feel my level is not high enough to be able to understand what was wrong with my play by myself. At the same time, I don't want to rely on engines (even though I plan to use them to verify my analysis afterwards). Anyway, that is the reason I am starting this series os posts: to motivated myself to analyse my own games. So in order to fix #7, I intend to go through every game I played in this tournament, and to try to draw conclusions about each of my weaknesses.