Road to 2100: T-8 Review

Hello all, and apologies for the lack of updates recently.  Please rest assured that the fact I have not been posting does not mean I have not been playing and studying; quite the contrary, in fact.


FIDE standard: 1985-1980 (expected), -5 points

Despite gaining a few points at Frome, this period will see a rating loss (my first since December) due to a poor performance at the e2e4 Gatwick Open.  To date I have played in two e2e4 events, each of seven rounds, but did not manage to win a single game until the (combined) thirteenth round!  (This was not my first full point though, as I got a bye in the twelfth…)  A combination of factors, including tiredness, a dislike for the time control used (game in 90 minutes, plus 30 seconds increment) and just coincidence are probably to blame.

Of course, this rating loss comes at an unfortunate time, and the path to reaching 2100 by September now looks very difficult.  Having said that, I have enough games planned to make it possible, if I am able to perform at around 2200.  I have not managed to qualify for the British Championships, so will be playing in two Spanish events instead, as follows:

5th-8th July: Railway Chess Olympiad, St. Petersburg, Russia

11th-18th August: XVII INTERNATIONAL CHESS OPEN MIQUEL MAS 2016, Figueres, Spain

19th-28th August: XVIII INTERNATIONAL OPEN CHESS SANTS, Barcelona, Spain

Assessment: Red (cause for concern)


I have been studying with a renewed sense of urgency in recent weeks, though you would be forgiven for not guessing that from my study log.  I have been using an innovative method for recording my study, pictured below:

chess training diary

Yep, good old-fashioned pen and paper.  I have found I prefer writing notes by hand, and just the act of carrying this around with me helps with motivation.  At least I have the information recorded, and may get round to putting it online at some point.

One thing I have been working on with my coach, Tom Rendle, is my habits at the board.  I have been using a pre-game mental checklist for a while now, designed to remind me of and help me avoid some of my bad habits, which goes as follows:

1.  I will calculate short, sharp variations, and commit to conclusions.

2.  I will only continue to spend time when I think there is a reasonable chance my decision will be improved.

3.  I will not allow adverse events to affect my focus.

I have made decent improvement in these areas, and consider the next big area to be my concentration several hours into the game.  I have lost count of the points I have thrown away late in the game recently (including several at Gatwick).

Assessment: Amber (some cause for concern)

If you have any bad (or good) habits at the board, I would be interested to hear about them in the comments section below (and how you try to combat them).

4 thoughts on “Road to 2100: T-8 Review

  1. I think my worst habit is that I wind up moving at roughly the same pace that my opponent does, perhaps in a psychological attempt to shake their confidence or focus. What usually winds up happening is I’ll miss a 3-4 move tactical combination that either fails to improve my game or winds up giving the game to my opponent.
    To combat this, I’ve started a step-by-step process of moving that involves first checking for any forced lines, then looking for candidate moves that lead to better positions. I won’t look for tactical combinations unless I see checks, undefended pieces, or poorly defended pieces. Then all my moves are geared at improving my position — less opportunity to blunder!

    1. Hi Robert. I think that’s a pretty common one, though personally I only do that if I would otherwise be ahead on the clock – I see my time advantage as ‘free time’, and often fritter it away needlessly thinking it doesn’t matter, as even if I do we’ll just be level on the clock.

      I hope that process works well for you.

  2. I have the same goal as you, though I’m a lot farther. I think we could improve playing together. I saw the sites you use to play online, ever heard of My nickname there is Lereassimter. I’ll register in playchess anyway (same alias), but seems better including for the studying part. Look at this Silmann’s articles for instance: Well, I’ll wait for an answer. Best of luck.

    1. Hi Israel. I’d be happy to play some games together, but probably in September as I’ve got two important tournaments coming up which will occupy me for the rest of the month. I mostly play on Chess24 these days, but happy with any site. In the mean time, best of luck with your own chess.

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