My Path to FM - Part 2 - The Motivation
In part 1 I explained a little bit about my great year in 2013 that earned me the NM title. After getting the title and not having much more to aspire to, I started playing 'just for fun', which is fine, but it means not studying that hard off the board and not working that hard over the board. Somehow, my results didn't really suffer, but I didn't improve that much either.
Between 2013 and early in 2016 (this year), I didn't really play in any tournaments. Yeah I messed around in local club tournaments, but those don't count for much. I was top seed in all of them and won all of them. It was enough to hit an all time high rating of 2329, but I wasn't convinced I had gotten any stronger.
Towards the end of 2015 things started to calm down a bit. I started playing on ICC again, and saw my ratings climb back to my 2013 highs. Then I started training regularly on www.chesstempo.com. I've given chess.com a ton of credit for all their improvements, but I still train tactics elsewhere... chesstempo is completely unmatched as a tactics trainer.
After a few months I started feeling pretty comfortable with my play and decided to train even harder in preparation for my first 'real' tournament. I registered for the 01/16 Guelph Pro-AM.
While preparing for the tournament I saw my chesstempo rating climb to an all time high. Chesstempo also has this feature for premium members that collects the FIDE ratings of users who choose to disclose them and compares your rating and average time per puzzle with the chesstempo collective. It's a cool feature... the result is that it can give you a rough "FIDE estimate". I have no idea how accurate it is but I had never been given an estimate over 2300 in the past. Right before the Guelph pro-am I had managed to get my chesstempo rating over 2100 and because I was only using about 1 minute/problem, my estimate had climbed to the low 2400's. Like I said, it's probably crap, but it proves I had improved.
Finally, the time had come for the Guelph Pro-Am. I scored 3.5/5, finished tied for 4th, and my rating stayed exactly the same. To me, this was a resounding success because I faced a group of extremely underrated kids and managed to beat most of them, in spite of their huge performance scores. To me, this proved that my 2329 rating was more or less deserved.
All that said, I got to thinking that the FM title might not be that far-fetched. As I mentioned in part 1, basically the only way to get the title if you live in northern Canada is to win it at the Canadian Zonal. It requires a 6/9 score, which usually works out to a FIDE 2500+ performance, but it's something that I'm now planning to do.
How on earth do I plan to go from a strong NM to the playing level of a strong IM or GM?
Well, I'd tell you here but this post is getting super long. Sorry to everybody I lied to in part 1. The plan can by found in the third and final part of this blog.