Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Games #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24

I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted some games.  I've continued to play 2-3 standard games per week in that time, I just haven't been updating the blog.  I've been playing like crap lately and it bugs me.

In game #19, I get into my standard time trouble, get a better position and fail to find several good moves to secure the win.

In game #20, I miss two elementary tactics that would have resulted in an instantly won game and only manage a draw.

In game #21 I just screw up big time when analyzing a series of captures.

In game #22, a simple piece placement error followed by doing everything possible to make my bishops the worst in the history of chess leads to a suffocating position capped off by a glaring oversight.

In game #23 I learn another way to get cramped in the Caro-Kann then miss multiple drawing opportunities with a small clock advantage.

In game #24, I end with a pick me up to show all is not lost.  Here's a miniature on the Black side of the Caro-Kann.

March was definitely not my best month of chess.  I also went on sort of a blitz spree.  I went from about 50 games of blitz played to over 700 in about 2 weeks.  It's definitely addictive.  It's helped me in some ways and hurt in others.  In some of my games I've played a little too quickly and speculative like I would in a blitz game.  Heisman says you should never get bad habits from blitz games.  In a standard game you just look at the clock and realize you have more time to play the positions and do that.

The good news is that I've gone from a sub 1000 blitz player on chess.com to 1300+.  I'm now in the 81st percentile, whereas I was in the bottom 25% before.    I've also learned how to play some positions I struggled with before and have learned more about my opening repertoire.  It's been a frustrating month of bad play and missed tactics, but you have to lose thousands of games in order to get good.  Hopefully I don't keep repeating the same mistakes.  I'm starting to get a little better with my time management, but it's still my biggest issue.  I'm still using a scattered thinking process during games.  Even after annotating and coming away with eureka moments for my process, I go back to doing the same thing in my next game.

My focus after each move is what does that move do?, CCT, list of candidate moves, then choosing a move.  Sometimes I'm even repeating it in my head over and over to force myself to do it.  I can't wait until it becomes second nature.

Current stats:
Class E +3 -1 =0 75%
Class D +6 -0 -0 100%
Class C +3 -4 =3 45%
Class B +3 =6 =0 33.3%
Class A +1 -4 =0 20%
Expert +0 -0 =0 0%

37 standard games played, and I finally hit my 20 game mark on ICC to qualify for the Team 45/45 league so I should be getting an additional standard game in each week when T61 starts.  I now have an official rating of over 1600 @ ICC and looking at my stats that looks about right.  If that means I'm only a 1400-1500 player USCF so be it.  That's still a huge jump up from my high school days.  I need to get into an OTB tournament at some point but I feel like I'm not ready.  Am I really as good as I've been playing or will I fold the first time I sit down at the board to a 1100 player?  I'm afraid of being overconfident, although this past month should've been a reality check for my ego.

For the next month I want to refocus on playing 4-5 standard games per week, annotated game collections and finishing the Howell endgame book (I've said that before).  I've been playing so much blitz I've neglected everything else except going through my tactics training.


  1. You're strong enough to play OTB.

    Now, I don't want to confuse you in any way, but if you're consistently using a 'rigid' thought process on every move, it might actually be the cause of your clock problems...

    Relying heavily on calculations is time-consuming and energy consuming, and though it should give excellent results in open/tactical positions, it may be a waste of time in somewhat semi-closed positions.

    Open question : do you think you're stronger in open positions or semi-closed ones ? (I haven't had a hard look at all your games, but I have an idea about the answer...)

  2. I'm not actually using a rigid thought process. I'm barely doing anything at all.

    If it's the opening, I play from memory. Once I get out of my opening book is when I run into trouble sometimes. Probably my biggest thing I'm doing wrong goes like this:

    "Okay he just played Nc6. Not too threatening there. Qd5 looks good for me here. *5 minutes later* Oh crap I keep looking at Qd5 and didn't even consider anything else. "

    It's even worse when I spend that much time on a simple developing move like Nc3. I just go into ultra cautious mode when I'm in an unfamiliar position which happens a lot in openings I'm not used to seeing. In one particular game I haven't posted, I spent 3 minutes on move 6 just to play the simple Nc3. A couple of moves like that per opening and I find myself behind on the clock real quick.

    So I've been trying to focus on coming up with a list of candidate moves first and casually examining each one for safety/reasonableness. Any moves that survive that check and I try to analyze each one and see which I like better.

    I would say that I'm weaker in semi-closed positions when I'm the one with less space. I think I do better in more open positions, although I feel more fear there since the margin for error is greater. Just gotta make sure the fear is keeping me alert and not paralyzing me.

  3. Yes, I agree with your assessment : I think you're already quite strong in open positions, which is very good because it's the key to the higher levels.

    So, now what about semi-closed positions ? I think the key is pawn breaks. If you know which pawn break(s) you're aiming for, it should help you navigate those positions quicker.