Increase Your Rating by Playing in Your ZPD
Last week I broke 1000 and achieved my highest rating of 1048! I'd like to give a special shout out to chessmaster102 who commented in my article "Get Ready to Win" that I'd break 1000 in no time. Thirteen days later I achieved my highest rating, I was at 879.
The most efficient way to approach learning anything is to practice in your Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). With chess.com, it is very simple to set challenges at your ZPD because you are able to specify the range of ratings for players you are willing to challenge. In this way, you can control your degree of difficulty by using your rating and approximating your ZPD. If you set your play range at a deviation of 100 points, you will challenge players in your ZPD. If your rating is 850, for example, set your challenge range between 750-950. Periodically adjust this range as your rating continues to increase.
Originally theorized by Lev Vygotzy, your Zone of Proximal Development is what I call your "sweet spot" for learning, it's the degree of difficulty for which you set a task. Your ZPD is the range between your instructional level and your level of frustation. Beneath your instructional level is your independent level, the level at which you have overlearned the material, so continuing to learn at such a level that is easy for you does little to challenge your ability in the skill you are attempting to learn. Play in your ZPD to efficiently grow your game.
Under "New Challenge" play in your ZPD by setting your Min Rating and Max Rating at 100 points below and above your current rating. After your rating consistently remain at the top of this range, reset your range.
One cool discovery I found, while playing in my ZPD, was that the players in my range consistently made similar mistakes. Common mistakes that I found within my range were:
1. Attempting Scholar's Mate, the attack on black's f7 square, and lost tempo.
2. Bringing out their queen too soon and lost tempo. In defense, I would force them to loose tempo by developing while chasing their queen.
3. Making too many pawn moves that left their pieces (knight, bishop, and rook) undeveloped.
HW - Play in your ZPD and try to note strengths and weaknesses of players in your range. Please remember to post your comment on my blog.
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