Hitting the top of the curve
Being a novice player who knew just the basics, entering the world of chess again after some 10 years and picking the chessboard on chess.com was a very nice experience. Rediscovering the game that I loved as a kid, but had no-one apart from my father to play with, was more than enough to bring my interest to its peak.
After learning how the chess world is in present time and learning a lot about the history of the game, I started playing here, reading articles, watching videos and measuring my capabilities, testing my skills to learn a game, apparently from scratch. Inevitably, I was more and more "concerned" about the rating, since there is little aside from that to give someone an impression of his/her level, or, to get on with it, of the potential based on the learning curve.
Today, after almost 9 months of self-teaching, I find myself having progressed a lot. With that in mind, I have to admit that I am feeling I have hit the top of this curve. Speed-chess forms aside, where I suffer greatly from "form periods" and cannot maintain my consistency, thus resulting in big ups and downs from time to time, more "standard" controls are pretty much stuck around the 1800+ graveyard. Fully knowing that online ratings are very much affected by inflation, lack of pressure (with goods and bads) and other things, I am seeking for advice to take the next step on making my play better.
I have learnt many different openings (mainly because I do not want to get caught off guard, meaning for responsive purposes only), but have given much more emphasis on 2-3 openings both as black and as white, namely, the sicilian systems as response to the 1.e4 and the Grunfeld or the Benoni to the 1.d4, and start as white with 1.e4, knowing the principals and many variations on the Sicilian, French, Ruy Lopez etc.
I understand and have used with variable success the concepts of knight maneuvering, good and bad bishops, minority attacks, and square control on the middlegame.
Finally, I play well in the endgame, especially on the defensive side (but perform really poorly in blitz or bullet on this part of the game).
What is the next step?? How can I improve my play and my understanding of positions and the harmony behind them?? Feel free to comment and give advice to a fellow chess enthusiast, it will be greatly appreciated :)
**Just mentioning, that OTB chess is currently not available for practice, nor is of course any kind of coach. My only tools are my mind and my online access to databases, videos, articles, and of course (many) games to play.