NM Pursuit #1: A New Beginning

It’s time for a new beginning.

After coming back from the summer without having invested much time into chess, I managed to play myself back into form during the Washington International. Although I started the tournament rather poorly, I managed to turn the tide and win my last four games against only slightly lower rated opposition. While the games were far from perfect, I was happy to pick up a few wins and finish the tournament on a positive note. I even gained a few rating points and managed to finish in the top 10 with my late comeback:

Washington International Rating

Following the Washington International, I played in a small local tournament, scoring evenly against slightly lower rated opposition over the course of three rounds.

September Swiss Rating

My stagnant results, not only since returning from my summer travels, but also over the course of the past year, have caused me to think deeply about where I see myself in chess. I am currently a junior in high school, and therefore school is always a top priority. Furthermore, other activities such as soccer and jazz band take up reasonably large chunks of time on a daily basis. However, one thing is blatantly clear to me: I am not happy with where I am in my chess journey and want to keep progressing. My enjoyment of chess stems not only from the game itself, but also from my ability to grow in knowledge and skill. Neither “stumbling” from tournament to tournament during breaks from school, as I have during the past year, nor giving up chess completely are paths that I am willing to take.

Consequently, I have committed to making an aggressive push toward the 2200 USCF mark. This aggressive push, while comprised in essence of consistent training and playing, is outlined in a bit more detail below:

  1. 1 lesson from the Yusupov Series… Monday-Friday: What more can I say? Every day of the school week, I will be completing one lesson from Artur Yusupov’s extensive improvement series. If I am not able to complete a lesson on a given day, I will use Saturday as a “catch-up day” to complete that lesson. As I am almost finished with the first book from the series, exactly fifty-three more lessons lay ahead. These lessons will be the cornerstone of my daily training for the coming months.
  2. Coaching and game analysis: I recently hired a chess coach, and will be working with this coach on a weekly basis to help enrich my analysis of tournament games. My hope is that guidance from a strong titled player will help me identify the most gaping holes in my play and patch those holes as quickly as possible. As I have been reasonably consistent in analyzing my tournament games from the past year, I will continue to do so during the coming months. Game analysis and lessons from a coach will be the focus of weekends in particular, when I am not busy with Yusupov study.
  3. Playing! I plan to play in two major tournaments during the month of November and will continue to play actively in December and January. It is important to reap the fruit of one’s labor, and therefore I will be playing on a consistent basis as a part of my NM Pursuit.

October Spreadsheet

This neat little spreadsheet will keep me on track until the end of October.

When pursuing any type of goal, it is most important to understand your “why.” Why am I working hard for this? Why do I want to achieve this? My “why” is that I want to become a national master because it has been my goal ever since I started playing chess competitively, and it would make me incredibly happy to see this goal through. Until next time!

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