Goodbye 2015: Goals for 2016/Flashback 1

NM blitzcopter
Dec 21, 2015, 8:03 PM |

Since I'm on break and don't want to wait 10 more days, there are 2 things I want to do: outline some goals for 2016 and revisit some games I haven't posted here yet.


Somehow I managed to break 1800 USCF by the end of 2014 (starting from the 1300s), mostly due to consistently solid tactics against class-level opponents. To beat experts, I guessed I would just have to do the same things, but better, so as my sole goal I set to reach 2100 in 2015.

With the benefit of some new perspectives and minor setbacks, I have more ideas for 2016:

  • National Master. When I broke expert, I had been performing 2100-level for a while* with consistently good positions against strong experts, so I didn't think 2100 was particularly far away. Unfortunately, November/December didn't turn out as well as I wanted. Still, master is still a natural next step for most experts, although I've been warned that the difficulty curve only gets steeper. But readily attainable goals aren't so much fun. :)
  • Focus less on objectivity. My analysis of games generally consists of recalling what I thought during the game/post-mortem and going through the moves once with a computer to make sure I didn't miss anything obvious. Of course, this is ridiculously unhelpful, considering that 1) computer evaluations are incorrect or inapplicable to many situations, 2) experts don't play 100% accurately, 2.1) no one does, because they'd probably be accused of cheating, 3) it negatively affects my perceptions of games (e.g. I don't think my game is a "good game" because I kept turning the game from +2 to +0.1, or I just got lucky because my opponent messed up a +5 mating attack).
  • Play the board, not the person. In comparison to last year I play much better under pressure and in bad positions, and am generally quite confident when playing strong players. Still, occasionally I have mental blocks against a few players (often with strong recent results or great records against me) and (due to my low-risk approach) too often avoid lines where I think my opponents see things that I don't.
  • Be more versatile. Not too much to add, but it's probably good to be confident in case I'm not playing long games with "normal" positions. It would probably feel really cool to be competent in very different situations. This probably amounts to building chess knowledge in general, which is always good.
* except for some summer games at the Pittsburgh Chess Club but shhh
Games From the Past
The following games are from 2014, before I start posting here (I'll probably post some from early 2015 in January but before my next tournament). I tried to find games from 2010-13, but apparently they were notated on loose sheets that have since been lost.
I only started playing regularly again when I got to Pittsburgh, but played well in tournaments leading up to that. The following is a G/30 from early 2014, shortly before the end of high school.

For my first serious game in Pittsburgh, I played G/70, which is pretty fast, but at the time was slower than I'd played before.
Sometimes I didn't have a lot of strategic sense and made a lot of reactionary decisions to potential threats. The next game was full of them, but instructive for me.
I played four marathon endgames against one of my more frequent opponents that fall. In this one I was fortunate to draw; I believe it was a G/70 game. Warning: I didn't spend as much time on this as originally intended, so if there's a >2-move tactic in this particular game it's from Stockfish. :(
The last game was in the last round of the 2014 edition of my most recent tournament. I remember being tired with 1.5/3 (just like this year!) going into the game, which was really crazy (i.e. completely losing) but I managed to hold, unlike this year.
Fortunately I just needed a draw to keep my newly achieved 1800+ rating and to date it's the only game in which I recall playing solely for a draw from the beginning.