The Final Year?

As seems to have become my habit recently, there has been a gap of many months since my last post.  This is not because I have not been playing chess; I have been continuing with London and UK league chess, and even travelled to Greece earlier this month to play in the Kavala Open (my first tournament abroad since Pardubice).  Nor is it because I lack ideas to post about; there are a number of chess-improvement topics I am quite excited about, and would like to share.  No – the lack of posts is because I have not been consistently working hard on my chess, and consequently have not been making progress. Without these things this blog has no reason to exist.  I could write about the ups and downs of club chess, or my untested training ideas, but many such blogs exist.  Without wishing to take anything away from those blogs, this one was supposed to be different.  It was supposed to be a test of what was possible for an average club player, with hard work and real commitment to getting stronger.  I know many of you share my frustration that I have not so far been able to realise this vision, and I recently received the following email from a reader:

“Hey. You had a nice goal, but not updating your website in a year or so and not leaving any comments about your progress is just cowardice. If you can’t reach your potential and have no improvement plans, you should make your viewers aware of that. Just admit that you were not up to the challenge – people will accept that – or make regular posts about your progress. Otherwise this site has nothing to provide.”

In light of the above, I have decided to set myself a deadline.  If I have not reached at least 2100 strength by the 1st of September 2016, I will set aside my goal to become a GM and discontinue this blog.  (A small disclaimer: by 2100 strength, I mean that ideally I would have passed 2100 ELO, but if it is abundantly clear that I have reached that level (e.g. I have performed well above it in my last few tournaments) but I haven’t been able to play enough games to gain the points, I may continue.)

This goal strikes me as very achievable, but given my previous failures to keep myself consistently motivated I will be taking no chances.  Einstein famously defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’, so I will go about things slightly differently this time.  To this end I am finally looking to hire a coach.  Suggestions/applications for this position are welcome, and I am open to working in person or online.  Ideally I would work with my coach at least a couple of times a week, but if the coach’s rates make this unaffordable I would consider other arrangements.

I will post details of my new training regime once I have found a coach.  Given my previous failures I would understand if not everyone chose to follow this time round, but I hope at least some of you will choose to stick with me for what could be the final year of this project.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

16 thoughts on “The Final Year?

  1. Attila Turzo is offering his service as a chess coach. You might be able to get a reduced price. No guarantees of your satisfaction. Best wishes.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, ketchuplover. He’s always been a very active coach on ICC. Have you had lessons with him before?

  2. Great to hear from you again, and good luck! That mail you received is coldly harsh while missing some points i think. Even if you hadn’t made any more progress, this site would be far from having “nothing to provide”, as we still have your training regimen, plan and progress so far. It’s true that it would be great to have more updates and you stating whether you will continue or not openly, but one could have written that more kindly.
    I’m interested in seeing your new training ideas, progress reports, and tournament roundups!

    That aside, let C.S. Lewis speak for me:
    When you set sail for Ithaca,
    wish for the road to be long,
    full of adventures, full of knowledge.

    1. Hi Simon – good to hear from you again too, and thanks. 🙂 I wouldn’t have worded it like that myself, but I think it’s broadly fair. That’s a nice quote, and I looked up the poem as I wasn’t familiar with it – great stuff, and very apt.

      1. Yes, i looked up the poem then, too, and I think it’s a perfect declaration of spirit and motivation for the Road to Grandmaster. It instantly became a favourite to me, strange that I didn’t stumble on it before.

  3. Please do not discontinue your blog in any case ….As the best thing you are doing is sharing your knowledge to many people and even one person learns some valuable things that it justifies to create this blog … Human suppose to pass knowledge to next generation and that is this blog is doing …..Enjoy your journey to GM !!!

    1. Hi Anis – thanks for your comment. I’m glad you feel this blog shares some useful knowledge with people; I agree that it would be a shame to discontinue it. That said, I have committed to stopping it if I do not reach 2100 by September, and I intend to stick to that. Apart from anything else, if I did not, the deadline would lose all its motivational power. It is possible that I would continue writing about chess elsewhere, of course, but I’m not thinking about that yet, as I am still intending to reach my goal! Will

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