This blog will (hopefully) chronicle my progress from lowly not-even-master-level to the highest rank of chess short of world champion. Call me crazy (many do) but I believe this is something I can achieve in my lifetime. Before you naysay, I'll give some background and arguments to support my claim.
I'm 22 years old, born and raised in small-town Ontario, Canada. I learned the moves when I was 5 but didn't play more than once a year until my first school team tournament when I was 10. Somehow I managed to win 13/14 games (which was only good enough for 2nd place!) and it was then that I decided to be a chess player.
The next year, I qualified for provincials where I came 20th with a 50% score. The following year I came 3rd and the year after I came clear first and qualified for nationals where I placed 2nd. That was probably the highlight of my chess career. Sure, I'm a better player now, but being at the top of the country in my age group was quite the achievement. I qualified for the world youth championships 3 times but my family could only afford to send me once, to Greece in '03. Here's the crosstable for that event:
Not my greatest tournament by any means, but still a decent showing on the world scale (drawing a master & a 2100+ player) in a very strong field. Notice that Magnus Carlsen played in my section and didn't even come top 5!
The point I'm trying to make is that I went from zero to hero in only a couple years without too much effort & with slim to nil opening knowledge & positional understanding. I was very good at tactics which allowed me to claw back from an opening disadvantage or find some cheapos and undeservedly win lost games!
I played the occasional tournament since then, but I didn't study much and so I improved rather slowly to where I am now. I'm currently rated 2181 on the Canadian scale (CFC) and 2057 FIDE... which means I have 443 points to gain before I achieve the minimum rating for the GM title of 2500. To make this goal sound less daunting, I've broken it into mini-goals, which I'll adjust as I go.
Each interval jump in rating will become progressively more difficult, hence the bigger jump in early stages.
FIDE rating goals
(to be achieved by the beginning of each calendar year)
Current, March 12, 2012: 2057
2014: 2300 (FM title)
2016: 2425 (IM title)
2019: 2500 (GM title)
My study regimen consists of reading about 1 chess book/week, playing over GM analysis from megabase, & about half an hour of tactics trainer / chesstempo per day (goal is to make it to 3000 on tactics trainer... my peak is 2811). I also play a lot of 5-min on ICC and I'll be doing more of that when I work on openings. I also have an IM friend who's willing to help me out a bit (although he thinks I'm crazy to want to be a GM). Can't afford any coaching right now, but I'll consider that if I get a better job or get a few more students of my own. If anyone has any advice or book recommendations, I'd love to hear them!