My Path to FM - Week 4

My Path to FM - Week 4

NM ih8sens

I'm doing my blog a little early again this week because I'm going away for the weekend.


A little bit of good news!


I reached all my tactical rating goals.  I brought my blitz and standard tactics ratings up over 2100 without too much trouble.  I also got to 2000 mixed, which is apparently quite an accomplishment because it brought me to 19th place of all chesstempo users.


Here's one I particularly enjoyed:



I felt pretty good about this because I solved it in 25 seconds.  Maybe it wasn't all that hard, but it's still pretty cute.


That said, I need to slightly update my goals.  First, I just discovered that one of my strongest training partners has a chesstempo standard rating of 2200.  With my peak at 2117, I have some work to do if I want proper bragging rights.  Once I've accomplished that, I'll try to bring my mixed tactics up to 2100, as I feel training mixed tactics is the best way to improve.  I also noticed that my "prophylactic" tactical sense might be lacking a bit.


One of my training games showed that.


I'll start by showing a game I played against an IM at long time controls this week.  It was another victory for my black repertoire.  I'm doing great in the opening against just about everybody (I even drew GM Nick De Firmian in a blitz game lol).


I lost my other training game, but I was able to take a lot from it.  First off, OTB I almost never blow good positions.  Without a doubt that is the single most significant reason my rating has climbed without any major drops.  That said, I remember being a bishop up against a strong player (now IM) and then blundering the bishop back just a few moves later and going on to lose.  My heart sank so fast that I truly believed I was about to throw up.  Well, after a pretty clever positional game, I achieved a clearly winning position and then blundered into a tricky mate.  I spent 6 seconds on the losing move.  I'll show you the game and then I'll explain what I learned.
So yeah, a disaster.  I learned a lot though!  First off, I resigned with 51 minutes on my clock.  That's a serious problem.  Second, my positional play in a position I don't know much about was kind of phenomenal.  So I'm proud of my first 26 moves lol... 
The big learning point was my blunder!  I won't forget that horrifying mistake anytime soon, so making it in an unrated training game could easily prevent a similar disaster at the Canadian Closed.  That horrifying sinking feeling had become somewhat foreign to me, so to feel it again was a good reminder.  More directly, I'm starting to realize that I have a little bit of trouble with "defensive tactics" or "prophylaxis" depending on which term you consider more accurate.  In the future I will carefully look for my opponent's counterplay in a position where I am on the verge of winning.  Masters become masters by being virtually impossible to beat.  My opponent proved he deserved his titles (NM/CM) by punishing me for playing blitz in a long game.  On the other hand, it certainly won't happen again.  My score against Hua has moved to 1 win, 2 draws, 2 losses.  I have black in our next game, so I'll have a chance to use my "play for a win" openings.
I'll leave it at that I suppose.  Pretty embarrassing to post that second training game, but part of the path to improvement definitely requires me to be honest with myself.  I'm a good player but I played badly and that's simply unacceptable.  I had to learn the hard way but I'll be a lot more careful in the future.