Friday, 1 April 2016

Settling into 1800-1900 FIDE rating: an update on my chess progress.

My last blog post about my chess progress was in October 2015, it's been quite some time. I set myself a goal to reach 2,000 FIDE by April 2016, and today being the 1st of April I can report that I am still not there! Why? If you are curious, read on, I've got good reasons why, and I still plan to get to 2,000 FIDE asap!
Chess wise, what has happened during this time?
  1. I played two more OTB tournaments, on one my performance was shocking and I went down to 1,844 FIDE, on the second I played pretty well and I've risen back up to 1,869. It's safe to say, the 1,800-1,900 range is an accurate reflection of my play, since I have got around 20 rated FIDE games at that performance and more in the BCF as I played for Bristol University Chess. Considering I haven't studied chess all this time, putting in a 1,950 tournament performance rating is impressive.
  2. I released the chess web site I announced back in early October 2015, which is something I have been working on since mid 2013 (first for personal, private use), and now it is available to everyone: Chessable. This is a great achievement because it took a lot of work to get it from private use MVP stage to public open beta MVP stage. We are now working on getting it out of open beta converting it into a stable, awesome product. I've hardly studied a drop of chess since October 2015, the main culprit is really all the work that has gone into Chessable. It has been worth it though and the value it will provide for future tournament prep and chess education, will be invaluable. Of course, anyone who wants to play the same openings I play in my OTB and on-line games, now can do so by learning the Able's repertoire on Chessable!
  3. I realised once again how important it is to stick to a repertoire you know well, it helps tremendously in Blitz chess. For instance, last FIDE OTB tourney I played an awesome game that while perhaps wasn't 100% accurate it was intense enough to beat strong opposition under a one hour clock, it was even shared by the TD on their official web blog. I came across a very similar looking position in a 1 min lightning game I played the other day and was able to employ a similar  strategy, with devastating consequences to my opponent who got checkmated in 12 moves, he did not have the luxury of an hour to find the best defense! Of course, this wouldn't work against the computer! Find the mate:
Chess wise, what should I do to get to my goal, 2,000 rating?
Okay, so I've admitted to not studying and perhaps I am lucky to maintain my respectable 1,850 FIDE rating, perhaps it is all the ground work I did before October 2015. However, 2,000 remains one of my main goals and I know I can get there. I do need to start making time for chess and at the moment it is unclear how that I will happen. I maintain, the reason adults can't learn skills (and chess) as impressively as the younger generation, is simply because we are multi-tasking so much, and multi-tasking is one of the worst things you could do if you want to have optimal performance! We have to earn our own money, feed ourselves, develop our careers, etc, etc. I am working full time and studying a taught MSc degree full time. How could I possibly make time? Well, it will have to come from somewhere at some point because to get to 2,000 FIDE here are all the things I need to do:
  1. Familiarize myself with the common middle game structures in the openings I play most commonly. I have done this with the Italian Game and I feel very happy and good playing those positions, however, I rarely get them. I need to learn more about Ruy Lopez middle game plans, Rossolimo Sicilian middle game plans, French, Caro kann, etc etc! This will take time.
  2. I need to work on my endgame, I still have not had much time to improve this area of my game and since the middle game plans are closely linked to the kind of end game you want to reach, this should be prioritized. Luckily, we are working on bringing efficient end game study to Chessable, so perhaps, while working on that I will make this task easier for myself!
Signing off for now, I hope this post is useful for someone also trying to improve their chess rating as an adult. We can do it, that's for sure, you've just got to make consistent study time!