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I started playing last March and progressed fairly rapidly. However for the past 4 months or so I seem to have plateued in the class B rating range. What did you guys do to progress from Class B to Class A players? What advice do you guys have for overcoming a plateu?
I found some weak points in my game and worked on them.
I know you won't be satisfied with the answer. But, this really is what you need to do. Find what YOUR weaknesses are and work to eliminate them.
personally I got into good positions all the time and couldn't finish them and lost positions which should have been able to be saved. So I went through games where I was worst at some point and tried finding ways of making it harder for the opponent to get the full point. I found games where I was better and tried finding different ways of going about with the advantage(sometimes with the assistance of a computer punishing my poor technique)
One of the major differences I find in players below 2000 is a simple unwillingness to work hard at the board. More than any knowledge, coaching, books, tactics, simple concentration makes a massive difference. Work on developing that. And be honest when analysing your games.
Both Rowson and Yermolinski have written great books on the psychological side of improvement. At class B/A you might get a lot out of Chess for Zebras.
You must understand the game. Analyzing your games helps you know your weaknesses and thus helps you where and why did you make mistakes. What is good and bad on your play and you can gain a understanding in the game.
Thank you guys for the advice :)
Ah, ye olde plateau!
All the advice is good, but none of it will prevent the plateau phenomenon. It happens to almost everyone who advances any significant amount in strength over time.
No one improves on a straight line up. There are always zigs, zags, ups, downs, and plateaus. The most important thing is not to get discouaged. Take a positive approach. Are you stalling because you are facing much stronger opposition now? Did you stop doing some of the good things you were doing while you were moving up steadily?
Are you experiencing difficulty in a certain area like pawn endings or quiet middlegames? Once you narrow down the problem it is easier to address.
Sometimes just taking a week or two off helps clear your mind and you can return with a fresh approach. But most of the time you will have to play through the plateau for a period. If you continue to work on your game and keep playing, it can be a shorter period.
The only person that knows for certain is you :D. However, a coach or stronger player/mentor could certainly aid in discovering your weakness.
From a general standpoint, there is always room to improve tactically and in your calculation. Dedicate a certain proportion of your time to studying tactics each day. In addition, focus very little on your time on openings and of that time focus on learning the resulting middlegame positions.
Lastly, (and most importantly in my opinion) analyze your games. Find out what went wrong and what you can do to improve. The most common mistake in this step is to use and engine and find out what you did wrong. This takes out a huge amount of learning that could be gained by attempting to find these mistakes first. Another large step missing from many amateur player's analysis is WHY you made a mistake. For example, you missed a tactic. The common reaction is to look at this mistake and say "I'm an idiot." This is the wrong attitude. The way to best improve is to say "I missed this because .... (I didn't understand this pin motif well enough, I was focused on this positional theme,etc.
I hoped this helps!
Thanks for all the comments! Recently I have been reviewing my tournament games with an FM and some of my online games with an expert friend of mine. It seems as though my main weakness is not playing precisely enough, particularly when I have a dynamic advantage. Of course when you do this your advantage disappears. So I have been trying to review my games and find the most active/accurate continuation. I also have been studying tactics although with me sometimes Ill go through a period when I practice a ton of tactics and then Ill go through a period when I do very few. I also watch a lot of Video Lessons online (my favorite video author is Mehlik Khachayin).
Well, I must admit I'm a bit confused. Unless I'm misreading it or something, according to your home page your rating is 770...
haha yes thats my official OTB rating but in terms of my skill level its more in the class B range. if youre interested here is my uscf page. http://www.plycount.com/players/USCF/12937134
also you can see all of my tournament games since i began playing chess seriously on my home page.
Afraid I only accept official USCF ratings as evidence of one's strength.
A quick search of the USCF database shows that Magnus Carlsen has no USCF rating at all. Do you consider him a noob, Andy?
damn smartass ostriches
blueemu, there's a college professorship going for smart birds. All bird types welcome including ostriches.
Tactics, pawn structure plans, master games. Study these things everyday and put in hard work to improve.
I'm already in a program for smart-ass birds.
On topic: I agree that analyzing your own games, especially losses will increase yuor playing strength. Posting them on the forum and inviting comments is probably worth the barrage of unkind remarks that it generates.
It certainly is worth it for the rest of us.
Actually, blueemu was accepted for that professorship, but he had to decline (seems they had him teaching on the 2nd floor, and so there was a flight of stairs).
I've always said they needed to have a completely separate system for the scholastic ratings. So many kids are just so bad, even the ones who improve are stuck with low ratings, well below their actual strength. Then when they play in adult events, they are sucking points out of the pool by being underrated.