Sunday, 8 April 2018

April 2018 Update: Defensive woes, I could be +8 and if my opponent gets any chances... I often implode!

When I played Hampstead a couple of months ago, I dropped a won game against a higher rated opponent. I have not had the chance to play another congress, but I decided to play some Rapid games online and take them extremely seriously.
Out of 6 rapid games, I won 3 (vs average rating 1700) and lost 3 vs average rating 1860 or so. Two of my lost games happened due to mishandling pressure by my opponent. As soon as my opponent gets any sort of serious counter play / pressure, i crumble - i seem to misjudge positions where my opponent is getting any sort of active play.
After taking that knight with my bishop, my opponent had the initiative and i slowly, failing to find good moves... lost the game.
A few moves earlier I could have won a second pawn and had a great position, but I didn't go for it even though I saw the line seemed good for me, I thought it'd be greedy and I should consolidate what I have, but dxc5 was the best move and I had two or three moves to take it!
Before analysing with a computer i annotated the games and caught all my mistakes... so i know... i know what the problems are, and despite practicising calculation... I go wrong!
I'm thinking of working through the following books (once I can get them on Chessable)
Grandmaster Prep Attack and Defense by QC.
Practical Chess Defense by QC.
Secrets of Chess Defence by Gambit.
If any one has any recommendations on a set of exercises that can teach me to withstand pressure I'd gladly take some tips and try to bring it to life at Chessable! :) I've dropped countless games from +1, +2, +3, and sometimes even more, simply because my opponent is getting play and under pressure , despite calculating some lines, i fail to go for the best defence!
I am aware of trading pieces, removing my opponents best piece, and other principles, but sometimes that's not possible and I guess I just don't have enough experience when my opponent applies such pressure. If the pieces could be traded, I'm good, but what if they can't!!
I need more defensive calculation, desperately. Am i missing any other books? Looking for some advice, and once they are on Chessable, I'll get to it.
My other plan is to solve more tactics, simple tactics, complex tactics, work on my calculation. Of course, all within Chessable. Currently I'm working through:
Oh, and here is that woeful game... yuck!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

February 2018 Improvement Update

It's been three months since my last progress update, so it's time for a new one. Progress? There is no progress! At least in rating. However, I feel that I am slowly identifying the weaknesses in my game better and coming up with stronger study plans. It may just be that one day everything will click together and all my hard work will have paid off with a meteoric rise? Who knows? Typically, I don't have enough time to work even harder (although I'd like to), so I really got to make sure my one or two hours a day count.
I have almost completed my entire black opening repertoire. I have some 200 out of 800 variations to go. I feel like I have to learn these last variations, at least the mainlines missing, (100 or so). However, I am taking a break from learning new lines for at least ten days to prep for the Bristol Spring Congress with a different kind of training as much as possible. I want to study more tactics because both tactics books on Chessable are awesome. I've begun with Improve Your Chess Tactics by GM Neishtadt. I felt like I was missing out. I have been dropping too many blitz, rapid and classical games in time trouble missing simple one move blunders! Always in time trouble, but this is no excuse. I even lost one completely won game in time trouble last weekend vs a 1915 player. Ahh! I have to work on my time management and will adopt GM Colovic's ideas of a game plan. Where you limit the time, you give yourself per move, purposefully. Let's see how that works!
I've also been playing a bit more blitz and being massively frustrated that my rating hovers around 1,800. It seems that I have forgotten what I said in my last post, that I need to slow down my Blitz controls and play 5+5... at least once and for all I know that my ELO is 100 points lower if I play 3+2 as opposed to 5+5. After a week of study, preparing for the Bristol Chess Congress, I will treat myself and allow myself to play a few more 5+5 games and see how that goes. Maybe I'll finally break and settle above 1,900.
I played the Hampstead Chess Congress a week ago, and I found the time control really hard, 60 min + 30 sec per move. I blundered in time trouble (pawn move in a K+P endgame), vs a young kid rated 1,500. That was tough! I am very much looking forward to getting back to 90 min + 30 sec. Alright, I will keep working hard and smart, and hopefully, in the next update I can show something for my hard work :) After all, it's now a year where I took two 2,100 ELO scalps in a single tournament. It's about time I start showing that strength regularly and my ELO should follow!