On tournament points and rapid progress
Results are not official yet, but it seems I have actually advanced in a tournament ! This is good news, as it represents a milestone of sorts (well, once everyone else in the current round finishes, lol !) I am in Group 7 of the 4tunate's 4 below Tournament and I am very happy.
Now, unlike a lot of other players I have observed, I play mostly tournaments, and not challenge matches. Only recently have I become active in team matches. I play often in tourneys, but I have not gotten any leaderboard points to show for it (yet). I decided to take a closer look, and as it turns out, the system for determining points awarded at the end of a tournament is fairly sophisticated. However, to make a long story short : one must practically always finish in the top half of the field in order to get any tournament points.
I lose about %71 of the games I play, and although I am still improving at a rapid pace - currently I am holding on at 1258 solidly - I am still not generally getting the best of it in tournaments. I am still winning a significant number of games due to timeouts - not that I am complaining, but it shows a weakness in my overall game, objectively speaking. I'd like to checkmate more.
I have already started getting picky about which events I enter to ensure I am not getting steamrolled, but I am a sucker for theme tournaments; and apparently, many strong players are as well. I have had to make an effort to play in tournaments with others in my rating range to get a balanced game.
I still drop pieces, but not as much as I used to. I still continue work on my repretoire, although I am now very comfortable and pleased with it thus far; I continue to study and refine. I have not downloaded games in a while, as I am still going over what I downloaded before, and focusing on my current games. My game load has dropped to something very pleasant, and I look forward to accepting challenges again within the next two weeks. I still would like a smaller number of higher quality games overall, so I only wait for a few tournament and key matches to wind down.
So, what are my next goals ? Well, I am actually playing well enough that I routinely see late middlegame/endgame situations, and I notice that the game almost always gets away from me in this phase. Statistically speaking, there is no longer a gap between my performance as White or Black, so opening prep is not the answer; still, I keep an eye out for improvement there. I will not waste time changing openings at this point, though. Board visualisation, tactics, and endgames will like be the sources of my next round of improvement. Chess960 is wonderful, and is working out as I hoped, even as I lose. It is so much more engaging than yet another tactics problem.
Also, I want to make a serious effort at playing over the board. The year is half over, so I can still get quite a bit done. Mid-term, I want to get on the Chess.com leaderboard on the first page, and establish a solid (not provisional) USCF rating. I will continue to analyse my games at home, and have 300+ games completed here at Chess.com to compare with. At this rate, I anticipate this number to approach 500 by year's end - plenty enough !