Reflecting on three months of chess

Sep 29, 2012, 10:32 AM |

At the end of June/beginning of July, I decided that I wanted to play chess and become better at it.  How am I doing three months later?  

My rating at online chess on is better than it was then, but I'm growing a bit weary of this format of play.  It's nice that you are able to take your time with your moves and that you don't need to set aside a block of time to play, but I feel that I don't concentrate as well in those game, the flow of thought is not constant, and between two moves -- especially if played 2-3 days appart -- I can easily forget a tactic that I was setting up, a strategical avenue I was pursuing, etc.  For that reason, I joined a local chess club; we meet every Saturday for small, friendly tournaments, and I feel that this is where a lot of my improvement will come from in the next few months.  Being able to play with tougher opponents and analyzing the games afterwards should prove extremely rewarding.

Also, as is suggested virtually everywhere, I keep doing tactics puzzle.  I do them mostly at now, because the absence of a time factor in the score you get allows me to take my time and properly analyze a position and get better results.  I passed the 1600 rating bar during the month, but because I didn't take enough time to do some puzzles, I am now back in the 1500s.  One extremely nice statistic is my 76% success rate; I recall it being around 66% during the summer, so I'm happy that I get more solutions right!

(See my stats here)

Finally, I keep reading books.  I've re-read some chapters of Seirawan's Winning Chess Tactics and still working through Winning Chess Strategies.  When I look at my games, I think that strategy is going to be the next important thing to improve; often I have a better position than my opponent, but then decide to pursue the wrong plan and end up behind a few moves later.  I want to stop this trend and keep my advantage when I have it!  I need to become more aware of the imbalances in my games, especially those that I tend to miss (weak squares, pawn targets) and start actively working at noticing those and figuring out moves that will put more pressure there.

Thanks for reading, have a great month of October!