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What are the traits that set an 1600 and 1800 rating apart? How can I make the jump?
I've listed a few things I've thought of, but don't know which deserves the most focus in this skill rating range:
Experience - Is it just a matter of continuing to play games?
Knowledge of Openings - Should I be memorizing openings?
Board Awareness (seeing 2, 3 moves deep) - Should I be taking more time in games to get a deeper understanding of each game?
There is no exact difference between a 1600 and a 1800. Chess involves a lot of different skills, and one player may be much better at skill X and worse at skill Y compared to a player of the same rating. It's all a continuous scale and an 1800 will be better on average than the 1600.
In a chess game, the most important skills are to be able to make a plan based on any position (evaluate who is better and why, what the goals of each player should be, and what good moves are to accomplish that) and to calculate concrete lines and find tactics for both players.
If you mean from 1600 to 1800 chess.com turn based ratings -- you need to check after each of your opponent's moves what new thing is threatened (it probably seems like you do this, but notice 9 out of 10 times isn't enough).
Every time you consider a move for yourself you have to have considered every single one of your opponent's legal captures and checks. Every time, every capture and check. If you don't then you're being lazy and leaving it up to chance or luck whether or not you'll be able to not lose if they play what amounts to an obvious move.
Also you should be content with your move regardless of what your opponent does... if he defends your attack, if he ignores your attack, if he starts a counter attack or just makes a waiting move you should like you move regardless. This mostly means don't calculate what you want to see happen, when considering a move for yourself find your opponent's most annoying, frustrating move... the move you don't want to see them play. Don't assume they'll re-capture don't assume they'll defend what you're attacking. Try to punish your candidate move by finding great moves for your opponent.
It has nothing to do with openings and more to do with discipline to not blunder. That and sharpening your tactics more. (Every jump of 200 points involves improving your tactics, even if you're an IM trying to become a GM). It does take practice (and will become easier) but following this basic advice on every move will make your rating jump up.
From 1600 to 1800 national rating or FIDE involves better analysis skills. Things like cleaner calculation, making evaluations of positions both on the board and using evaluations to distinguish between two possible positions in calculation, being able to follow a basic plan or idea... and of course sharpening your tactics :).
After that you can worry about opening and endgame technique (although obviously whatever extra you learn wont hurt -- but it wont be the primary reason you do well or poorly).
(do you own an orange Honda moto?)
Wonderful your above post 28/Jan about learning chess. Honestly, I think I have never read a better chess learning lesson.
Congratulations. I will keep a copy in my favorite chess book (Irving Chernev´s "Logical Chess Move by Move)
Still waiting to jump
not in the suicidal way though
At lower levels, the differences between rating classes is nearly always better tactics (fewer blunders) - which is pretty much what orangehonda said.
To improve on this aspect of your game, play seriously every game, work on tactics, and record your games for later study. Players tend to make the same types of mistakes over and over. Every type you can eliminate - or make less often - makes you a stronger player.
This principle applies at all levels, but for lower rating classes, it is the gross blunders and overlooking simple threats for both sides that comprise the great majority of mistakes.
I drive a Honda but if it were orange I would have it painted ! Had to have a custom made gun rack made for it as the standard racks wouldnt fit properly......