29 February 2016

Rating Woes

I set goals and resist setting goals. Setting these goals in terms of rating produces disappointment. It is better to set them in terms of learning targets.

I might set as goals:

1) In 2016, I will master the French Defense. See "A Batch of Games".
2) I will be able to reproduce the whole games from each of the first 48 fingerprints in GM-RAM: Essential Grandmaster Knowledge. See "GM-RAM: Essential Knowledge" and "Year in Review 2015".

Nonetheless, rating strokes the ego or chops it down. Last Thursday I was at the top of my game with blitz rating peaks on two sites, both over 2000. Thursday night after my wife went to bed, I renewed my USCF membership in preparation for the Collyer Memorial Chess Tournament. Then, I renewed the licenses for two of my dogs. It was probably 10:00 pm at that point.

Four hours later, my wife asked from the bedroom. "what are you doing still awake?" I looked at my Chess.com blitz rating and saw that it had dropped to the low 1800s. I cannot account for those four hours, but I must have been playing blitz and playing it badly.

This graph shows last week's gain and then collapse. The two horizontal lines represent 1800 and 2000.

After winning a nice miniature in round one of the Collyer, I had the tactical collapse in round two that I posted yesterday in "Don't Be Clever". There was still a chance to cut my losses with two wins on Sunday. Somehow, I managed to lose two games. In round four, I gave away a minor piece, then converted that to a rook through further errors.

A rook down marks an improvement over dropping a queen on Saturday!

In the last round I played my friend Ted Baker. He is always convinced that he will lose when we play, but he has an even score over the past several years. He won biggest upset in one tournament when he beat me.

He and I were both convinced that I was winning very late into our long game, but in the end I lost. My rating dropped 70 points.

This graph shows my USCF rating over the past four years, including my peak in 2012 of 1982.

Maybe I should just play chess because I  like the game. Setting goals sets me up for frustration.

On the other hand, it seems that only yesterday I first broke through to A Class (see "Class A!"). Moreover, I had more fun analyzing and playing chess this past weekend than in many tournaments over the past few years.

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