The Road to Expert
When I was new here at Chess.com, I advertised a personal goal in my Chess Skills blog: become a USCF Class A player before I turn 50. I reached that milestone (1819 USCF) in May 2009, and then set the intermediate goal of maintaining it through the next several events.
Barring a major disaster in the Spokane Chess Club Winter Club Championship, I will remain Class A when I reach the half-century mark in the spring. After I dominated an event played over the past two weeks, my rating reached a new high of 1857.
I'd like to cross 1900 in the next two years. But, the dream of reaching 2000 is my long term goal. This peak is made more difficult because in my town, there is one master, one expert, and I'm currently the fourth highest rated active player (one and three play infrequently, but usually once or twice per year). A few of our tournaments bring in talent from outside of town--IM John Donaldson usually attends the Collyer Memorial, named for the father of NM Curt Collyer who lives in Seattle, but comes home for a few events every year.
Improving my rating requires "taking care of business": beating consistently the improving local players who are rated slightly below me, and always beating the rest (I've suffered a few heartbreaking losses, including the game below). But, the best opportunities for gain of skill and rating arrive with an influx of players from Seattle, Portland, Tri-Cities, Moscow, and Montana, or traveling to tournaments in Seattle.
What study methods will push me over 2000? Will I need to beat some masters? I have several draws against players over 1900. I need consistent wins from this group.