I joined chess.com 5 1/2 years ago and when I first joined the site rating adjustments were wild until I had played enough games for the rating to be realistic. On the 28th of January 2011 my rating was 1372 then the next day it was 1065. Unfortunately I have never been able to reach my highpoint and the ‘highest rating’ stat was always frustrating, it wasn’t a true reflection of my ability – until now. A couple of days ago I reached the dizzy heights (for me) of 1373 and stopped playing, fearful that my time on the pinnacle would be too brief. Bravely I played again today and I have once again stopped to savour 1400! I have no idea why I have improved this year but it seems like a collection of knowledge has gelled to become coherent.
The greatest leap in knowledge has been learning more openings and finding which ones work better for me. I still play 1.e4 but I have shifted from the Ruy Lopez as White to the Scots Gambit as White if I can. I also play the wing gambit in response to the Sicilian which is bringing me better results. I have given up on playing the Sicilian myself in response to 1.e4 and instead I favour playing the Ruy Lopez as Black or using the Dutch Defence, English Defence or Budapest against 1.d4. In addition to using these openings I find that my greater opening knowledge is giving me better understanding of the middle game since I have more opening ‘themes’ to draw from.
My second improvement is my positional play. I am more able to get my pieces where I want them to be. I use open files for rooks better, open diagonals for Bishops and I block my opponents play to cramp them up. My biggest positional improvement, though, is my horse play. I am much more careful about mapping paths for my Knights so that they end up where I want them. This often means playing knights backwards to bounce them forwards. This is often a subtle way of playing but it is working well.
My final improvement is a greater willingness to launch attacks. I have been watching a few videos about launching an attack and this has helped. When I feel I have my pieces in strong positions I will often sacrifice a piece to bust open the King’s defences and this often leads to games where I have an advantage.
But for all that there are still aspects of the game that let me down. My concrete calculation is still fairly lazy and often my bravado attacks slowly wane because of unclear calculation. My second failing is tactics and this is a simple case of doing tactics regularly.
Here is the game that got me my new high point.
(answer to tactic in Knockout post is 1.f7+ Kh7 2.f8=N#)