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Epilogue: My becoming a 2400 chess player in 2010

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After becoming a 2300 player in the 1980s, for one reason or another I more or less stagnated at that level until mid-2010, when I briefly was rated at the 2400 CFC-rated level at age 49. I rapidly dropped off in rating since that time, to be currently low-2200 CFC. I have my reasons and excuses for the stagnation and drop off in rating, notably not finding the time to do that I know which will possibly help boost my rating at least for a while. What I would like to share instead is five tips about how possibly to rise in rating from close to 2300 level to 2400 level, as I did when playing in rated events (mainly in Ottawa, where I moved back to from Brampton in 1989 after 13 years), for a period that lasted about 2 years, until the mid-2010 point. Naturally there is more than one way to climb to 2400 from about 2300, and any steady and varied chess study and/or fitness program is likely to be helpful.

Sometime in the late 1980s, after I had reached 2300 level, I happened to be walking with IM Raymond Stone, and mentioned a couple of general questions I had. First, what to do about assessing a possible position where you're not sure if the opponent can draw or not? Ray's answer was that this sort of situation is a player's bread and butter. I was relieved that I might go into such positions more often without at the least fearing that I'd feel like a chump no matter the outcome. I could have made more use of this advice, such as in regard to my next question for Ray, but more on that later.

My second question for Ray was how a player might get from 2300 level to 2400. While the advice was not his own, he told me 2 things that could work - A) go over endgame studies; B) pick a Grandmaster with a style similar to one's own, play over his games and try to figure out why he made each move, and adopt that player's repertoire. Alas, I did not make much use of either of these suggestions until much later. I had a book on endgame studies, but it largely remained on the shelf over the years. I also did not want to imitate a single GM's repertoire, and I still feel that way about it to this day. However, even on my way to 2300 level I studied games of many GMs one book at a time, if only in a shallow way most of the time in regard to individual moves. Try Ray's suggestion if you wish, or at least do a good job at analyzing a GMs games, would be my first tip to get from about 2300 to 2400 level. [edit: CFC President Vlad Drkulec has related elsewhere that Ray advised him to study just Fischer's every move to understand it, not any old GMs, nor to commit to such a player's repertoire; somehow I like my misrecollection of Ray's advice rather better, if only since the scene might be monotonous if everyone tried to play like Fischer, plus that man's games are now rather old(!)]

Now, jump to 2007, long after I had moved back to Ottawa, and I took a year off chess, if only to save up some money instead of spending it in the bar and grill in the building that houses my club, or riding the bus there (the former I enjoy at least as much as playing chess, not any longer having much ambition to greatly advance at chess, at least normally). What to do to fill in my newfound spare time?

First, I made a database of 100 of my best games over the years, then I analysed them as much as I felt necessary to establish the turning points and errors in the game. At this time, databases and engines were already widely available, unlike when I was still striving to reach 2300 in the 1980s and before. I would do my own analysis of positions at my physical chessboard at times, then check it with an engine, or vice versa. I'd also use books on openings, or on endgames as necessary, to aid the analysis. In short, my second tip is to analyze a lot of your own best games, using all means available (I seem to recall I recommended something similar for trying to become 2300, and it applies as much as ever).

My third tip is to read GM Lars Bo Hansen's book Secrets of Endgame Strategy (Gambit, 2006). In it he talks all about what he calls Strategic Endgames, or endgames where the result after best play is not yet clear. It's basically about the very thing I was asking Ray Stone about all those years before. In any case, intensive endgame study every now and then cannot but be helpful. My fourth tip is thus also to look at endgame studies, as Ray also talked about, as mentioned earlier. I did in fact get around to all this sort of endgame work at this time.

My fifth and last tip to get from about 2300 to 2400 level is, after everything else, to really pile on the opening preparation (I may have alluded to this as a way to strive for 2300, and if so it applies as much as ever). The Everyman series on "Dangerous Weapons" in various openings nowadays shows a lot of typical tactically or positionally sharp/trappy lines of the sort I dug around searching for with my available resources circa 2007-8.

I have other thoughts about opening preparation, or the styles of players/GMs, which can be found elsewhere in other blog entries of mine, under my blog's blog category "Chess opening repertoire discussion". [edit: Immediately following is a link to one such entry of this blog category, which includes links to other relevant entries in that category:]

The effects of applying 4 of the 5 tips I gave above, just circa 2007-8, seemed to have the result of strengthening my play for a couple of years, long enough to get me to 2400 level before the effects wore off, evidently, due to no such further effort on my part.

P.S.: Under the name Kev Pacey (somehow), I happen to have a 2400 level provisional USCF rating from a NYC Pan Am event played circa 1981, where I played for U of Toronto's 'B' team, but that hardly counts in my books as reaching, or still being at, 2400 level in any usual sense.

Below is a link to Part 3 of Becoming a 2300 Player:

Below is a link to Part 2 of Becoming a 2300 Player:

Below is a link to Part 1 of Becoming a 2300 Player:

Updated 08-20-2018 at 05:44 PM by Kevin Pacey

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Becoming a 2300 player