My 51 Most Memorable Games
Nearly a year has gone by since my first tournament. Aha, I thought, time for a retrospective. July to July, my scacchic year. Looking over the list of games in my database I even thought I had a clever title for this blog post. However when I looked at my game statistics on the USCF website I learned I have 53 games. What happened to those two extra games? They're probably long gone and across the border by now, partying somewhere with my missing socks. Or it could be I'm forgetting games as I age, and in my nether years I'll have no games in my database and the cycle will be complete.
I remember at the end of the Seafair Open last year my goal was to attain the lofty heights of Category B by Seafair 2017. As they say, pride goeth before the fall.
performance rating over time
I compiled some rough statistics on how I won and lost games as well.
The categories aren't precise and I assigned some games to multiple categories, but I don't notice any strong trends (though if anything I've blundered more lately than a year ago). While my USCF rating is dropping I'm guessing based on my chess.com rating that it's approaching my current actual strength. While qualitatively I feel like I've become slightly better compared to a year ago, my play is not consistent enough to get good results OTB. I don't think I have to do anything fancy here; simply reducing blunders is an obvious first step.
What else am I doing to improve? First I can say what I'm not doing. I'm not going through books with any regularity (I've been 3/4 of the way through Amateur's Mind -- great book -- for the last couple of months). I'm not analyzing games that much like I did with the Karpov blog a while back. I enjoy both those activities; I'd like to do more of them.
Any Sunday I'm in town I go to the meetup at the Armory and play for about 4 hours, usually once a week I'll go to another meetup or play downtown at Westlake, and about once a month I play an event at the chess club. I feel like this is a good amount of OTB play for me.
What am I doing a lot of? Blitz and 15 10 games online, and to the extent that this cuts into time for books and analyzing I think it could be time better spent. It's not that I enjoy playing more than the latter, but I think the reward loop is so much shorter. A little self discipline here would go a long way, or even a more focused effort to analyze some of these shorter games, which I rarely do.
Then there's tactics. Almost every day for about the last six months I've practiced what I call "Pruessian Tactics", after a video I watched by David Pruess. I don't do a lot of tactics (around 3 or 4) but I do them daily, always in a custom unrated rating range here on chess.com. I'm currently on 1600-1800, having started at 1200-1400. There are moments where I've felt tactics 'click' in my brain. It's akin to feeling a new muscle memory for some physical activity -- I can't describe this well but I feel the two must be related somehow. At some point I'd like to invest in a more structured and/or progressive tactics program (in terms of skill patterns, not necessarily 'puzzle rating', which seems kind of dodgy to me).
I've found some favorite streamers and youtubers in Simon Williams, Ben Finegold, and John Bartholomew, and chess blogs Chess Skills, Path to Chess Mastery, and Chess ^Summit. I had a great trip in April where I got to watch the end of the US Championship in St. Louis. Once my tournament performance gets more consistent I'd definitely like to travel to a tournament -- Portland, Reno, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York...?
For the present, Seafair 2017 is in two weeks. Here's to another enjoyable year of chess.