Road to 1600 Rapid, trying to improve after every game.

Game 48
"Let me in"

This game demonstrated how quickly a position can collapse if you get too focused on your own plan and don`t take a careful look around before moving pawns in front of the king. 



pls join

zeitnotakrobat wrote:

Let us add to the comments on game 46 that besides everything else, black missed a mate according to the computer (I stopped calculating when I saw that black wins at least the queen) when he traded queens in move 29, winning was 29. .. Qe4+ and either Rc2+ or Rf2+.

In the endgame black messed around with his rook, but 50. ... Rh7 instead of Rb7 was crushing.

A real comedy of errors

To add to the comedy my opponent never fell below 15 minutes in a 15/10 game. In fact he got up to 16 mins at some point I`m wondering if it was some sort of challenge or bet, or if my opponent somehow thought he was playing bullet. Despite taking the time to think I got into a completely lost position. A legendary game grin.png 

Game 49
"The emperor`s new clothes"
This game... I don`t even know what to say. It was a complete brain fart. I watched some lectures yesterday by Ben Finegold where he showed endgames where the more active king was the decisive factor, and somehow I thought it was a good idea to march my king up the board because a queen and minor piece had come off..

The lecture I`m talking about is this one:
A very good one I might add, but not quite applicable to this game.  


Game 50
I`m glad game number 50 was a more properly played one. I wanted to play a 3rd game this evening, but I got a warning that I was under fair play policy violation investigation so I could not send another challenge. I think it is safe to say that there are enough mistakes and blunders in my games to make such a claim ridiculous. As this is the 50th game played since the challenge started I decided to take a step back and write a short summary of how I`ve progressed and what aspects of my game I still think are negative. I will hopefully publish it tomorrow. I also need to recuperate mentally (I`m noticing some mental fatigue) and make a plan for how to proceed in regards to studying.



Progress update: 

current rating: 1540

I`m thinking to write a progress update for every 50 games or so, if this thread continues for that long. Maybe I should start a blog so I`m not hogging forum space with my constant analysis. Besides it would be cool to post something else besides games. As an aid to my studying it could be helpful to also post puzzles and interesting games played by others, with my own analysis added. In this format I could see posting chess content besides games could quickly become messy. If I have a blog it will be up to users themselves to visit it and see if it is interesting. If it`s not then it won`t really be a problem, it will mainly be a study tool for me, not a "commercial" venture, where I try to post something to pique people`s interest rather than focusing on my own goals. 

That being said, I will try to objectively assess what I need to work on and what has improved since the challenge started. 

Blunders and mistakes: This is still my main problem, though I think it has been alleviated somewhat since I started.  Surprisingly I commit fewer blunders in sharper positions with many pieces on the board than I do in queenless middlegames and endgames. That is because I kind of start zoning out and relaxing once the position seems quiet and boring. I stop looking for tactics, can`t really find a plan, and become careless with my king. All the opponent usually needs to do is to move around, staying ahead on the clock, until I start getting uncomfortable and impatient just playing for a draw and do something rash and stupid. I need to accept that a draw is an acceptable outcome of a game, especially if I play as black. 

Chess psychology 
This is a big one. Chess is a psychological game. Players from the lowest level all the way up to world champion level play differently according to their level of wakefulness, mood, previous chess results, opponent rating and so on.. There have been several games recently where I had the chance to gain the advantage early, but where I blew it because I simply did not trust my calculations, and played in a psychologically more comforting way. In common parlance: I didn`t have the balls to play the risky move.  In game 50 I abstained from playing the best move even though I saw it, because I lost the previous game painfully. 

There is no shortcut to better chess psychology. It just comes from doing tactics puzzles, training calculation and pattern recognition over and over, until you are no longer afraid of trusting your calculations and playing sharp moves. The only thing I can do to influence my playing strength psychologically is to make sure I eat healthy, exercise regularly, take time to de-tilit and relax and play only when motivated and rested. I`ve become much better at this. Though there are some games I`ve played recently, where I played just because of the challenge, not because I really wanted to.


Since I started studying tactics more systematically I definitely made an improvement. I struggled to breach 1900 tactics rating previously, now I`m solving 2300+ rated puzzles with some regularity. My tactics rating almost hit 2100 last week. Now, ratings aren`t everything. Do I really understand the tactics I am doing and why they work? Could I find them in a real game under pressure?  That is a different question. I think my understanding and employment of tactics in games has improved greatly. Spotting tactical opportunities is what has allowed me to gain these rating points, and I think I understand tactics well enough to get to 1600. 

Strategy/positional play: This aspect of the game is not something I`m particularily good at, but I wouldn`t say I`m terrible either. I don`t have enough data to really specify what I need to work on regarding this, as games have been decided by tactics or blunders, not long-term positional weaknesses/strengths. I think my understanding of piece activity,  pawn friction,  tempi and space has improved somewhat, but I see no major flaws or advantages compared to other players at my rating level. 

Endgames: I`m not good at endgames. This is an area I`m studying. I`m not going to have it as a main focus of study, but I`ve learned the Lucena and Philidor positions since the challenge started, and I will do drills on triangulation and 2PK vs 1PK endgames, to get a feel for how the king should move in the endgame, and what types of configurations are winning, and which are drawing. 

Study Plan: 

Every day: 10 tactics puzzles rated, 10 unrated tactics puzzles tailored to the current chapter in A to Z chess tactics (this is all I will commit to)

Every week: One chapter in A to Z chess tactics, where I set up positions on a  board and go through the moves, I will try to guess the next move when going through the positions. 

Two lessons on I will just do them in order, advanced through mastery through old lessons. 

Walkthrough of two games by Paul Morphy. I think this a good player to start studying, as he played a romantic, tactical, sacrifical style which I enjoy.