The Road to ELO 2000: Some insights into chess improvement

Jun 8, 2009, 9:22 AM |

Hey there everyone!

I decided to add a little more variety to my blog posts and NOT post up a game for a change. Instead, I shall briefly talk about my recent rating climb.

In what seems to be an extraordinary turn of events, I have managed to improve my rating from 1500 to 1700 in a month. If you have been keeping up with my blog you will know that I took a 3 month chess break from Jan to April which makes this recent surge all the more intriguing. What gives?

Looking back, I think I overplayed too much (chess). By nature I am quite an impatient person. I  placed too much pressure in wanting to win games all the time that I forgot about the joy of simply playing. Chess is one of those games which you have to learn to be patient. There are 2 dimensions to being 'patient' in chess: over-the-board play and overall progress. Over-the-board wise, I've noticed that in certain positions, you just have to sit tight and play a 'safe' move, by which I mean a move which doesn't ruin your postion, but doesn't really create any winning chances either.  I think too often I try to be clever and create unncessary complications which cost me the game. Regarding overall progress,  no one jumps from 1200 to 2000 ELO overnight, it takes time. And I'm only starting to realized that now after 3 years of actively playing. Heck, even GM's had to start from 1200 ELO too.

On that note, I've noticed that when I don't care about my rating, I feel a lot more 'free' to just play. Chess players in general all love to compare our ratings with each other, but it shouldn't let it completely take the focus away from actually playing the game! Psychologically, most of us feel that we stand no chance against an opponent 200 ELO points higher then us, but that's a wrong mentality to begin any game. Have a go and play your best, chess starts from an equal starting position so it's anybody's game until one player makes a mistake. Don't lose the battle in your mind already just because someone is rated higher then you. Play And ENJOY. What have you got to lose?

And speaking off losing, I"ve probably never handled defeat very well. It's still a challenge for me to lose graciously. I so often forget that losing is a great opportunity to learn, but only be if I take the time out to study and analyze my loss. There's no point in playing 100 games a day unless I take some time out to find out where I've gone wrong. Because of this I find that I can only play at most 1-2 games a day because I use the rest of my time looking through my mistakes.

To summarise, the reasons behind my recent chess improvement was because I

1) started to enjoy playing with less emphasis on ratings.

2) started to learn and study from my past games (And I mean really study)

3) am learning to be patient with my chess progress and over-the-board play

Hopefully my lessons will be useful to some of you who are reading this. Feel free to leave any constructive comments. =)