It seems that each year since I started playing again in 2011 I have asked myself at the beginning of the year what my plan was.
I still recall how initially my plan was to get to 1600 by the end of 2011, then 1800 by 2012, then I gave myself five years to make expert and another ten to make master. So my initial plan was to be a master by the age of 54.
In some ways I was incredibly naïve when I made that plan. After all, I hadn’t worked on chess in years and so much had changed.
Nevertheless, it’s been said that it’s better to play with a bad plan than with no plan at all.
From Jan of 2011 until now peak to trough I gained well over 400 points, hitting a high mark of 1896. However, since then I have shed roughly 130 points and find myself at 1766.
From a rating standpoint I have stagnated for a long time, but from a strength standpoint my understanding of the game has grown by leaps and bounds.
However, strength in analysis is one thing, whereas showing that strength over the board is quite another.
So that brings me to now, the beginning of a new year.
My goal for 2019 is to finally hit 1900. In order to get there the main thing I will need is consistency. For sure I need to find a way to level out my results. I’ve been streaky for a long time, and it’s time to work on fixing that.
Unlike many years in the past, this year’s plan isn’t about how I’m planning to do X amount of Y thing, etc. Rather, this year the focus is going to be focus itself.
The main area of consistency that I will be working towards is simply ensuring that I am working deliberately each day at improving. For example, each day when I get a few minutes to look at my phone during the day, instead of heading right to Facebook I’ll head to chesstempo’s mobile site and knock out a few pattern recognition tactics. I’ve been using the advice that Andrzej Krzywda gave on Perpetual Chess, which is to solve several tactics per day without logging in. This feeds the user very basic tactics which are useful for developing pattern recognition and keeping it sharp. Good enough for a CM with an IM norm, good enough for me.
In theory if I do that properly, then by the time I get home after work I’ll already have 20-45 minutes in, which should be just about all I need for this.
I also plan on going back to Chessable in a big way. I was using it over the summer and was really getting some opening lines down, but then when I lost my job I also kind of lost my drive for this. It’s time to get it back and start working on openings again.
Another area of focus is that I really need to start taking lessons again. I’ve set that aside for a long time now, and it’s time to get back to work. I need to set up a block of lessons and try to do at least one hour per week every week that I possibly can.
I’m very lucky in that I have a friend who is a GM who I have a pact with. I push him to focus very hard on his own chess and he does the same for me. He’s reviewed a few games of mine and he’s given me some great advice about what books I should be reading, etc.
At this point I’d like to admit that I’m slightly distracted as I type this because I am watching the game Naroditsky-Saidy in Round One of the Bay Area International. Here is the current position:
Naturally I’m hoping that Saidy can hold the position. He’s certainly one of the last American players with close ties to Fischer who still plays.
In addition to regular club tournaments I plan on trying to play more this year than I have in the past few.
I will be playing the Northeastern Open in January and the USATN in February. March will see me directing almost every week, so that leaves little room for playing, but then in April I’ll try to get right back in and play the Arpad Elo Open here locally.
As I don’t have much time off of work at my new job yet I’ll have to play more local tournaments than anything since I won’t have enough vacation time to travel anywhere or play in any longer events such as the Chicago Open.
When all is said and done I think that consistency will be the driving force for me in 2019. I certainly still have plenty of time and passion to achieve my goals, culminating with the ultimate goal of NM.
The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Today I am taking that step.
Til Next Time,
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