With the my last OTB tournament of the year played, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look back at the year and see what lessons I can glean from my games.
I played in a total of four regular tournaments (I did play in a quick tournament and a couple of blitz tournaments too, but those were mostly for fun) which is fewer than the number I had wanted to play in and nowhere near the number that is going to be needed if I seriously want to reach my goal of getting to 2000 in a reasonable time frame. Unfortunately, I had to miss out on a couple tournaments because scheduling just didn’t work out. I had to withdraw before the last round in one tournament and took some byes in others which cost me opportunities to gain rating points. In 2020 I’m planning to play in at least 6 tournaments (fingers crossed the scheduling works out), but maybe more if I can work it into my schedule. I’ll have to choose carefully and will also need to travel a bit more to play in some stronger tournaments. In addition to tournaments, my plan in 2020 is to play in some weekly rated ladder games hosted by the Springfield Chess Club.
I played a pretty even number of games with White (7) and Black (8), but my win percentage with White (64%) was quite a bit higher than with Black (38%). I played four games against 1900+ opponents and all were with Black, so I suppose I was a bit unlucky. I have made some changes to both my White and Black openings this year. I think I need to work some more on my Black openings, specifically against 1.d4. I need to get more comfortable with my repertoire as I haven’t felt at home out of the opening in several games.
Speaking of openings, 2019 was the year of the English (1.c4 or 1.Nf3 soon followed by c4). It featured in 9 of the 15 games. I made the switch to playing the English as White and have been getting comfortable positions in most of my games. I have also managed to be successful against it in the few games I’ve had to face it. I played a single Alekhine’s Defense (1.e4 Nf6) and a single Sicilian (1.e4 c5), but unfortunately didn’t get to play one of the main lines I’ve been working on learning. I also faced a couple London Systems (1.d4/2.Nf3/3.Bf4), a Queen’s Gambit Declined, and a King’s Indian Attack setup. This year I purchased some opening repertoires on Chessable and I plan on spending 2020 getting more comfortable with them. I’ve already begun to have good results in online games and I have no reason to believe my OTB results would be any different.
The average moves played in my games was 35. Slightly less when I played White and slightly more when I played Black. I didn’t find too much here to make any conclusions about. The only thing I can say is that often times it feels like I’m impatient and I need to do a better job of mentally being prepared to fight the long fight at the board. This is something I’ve been working on, but will need to carry over into 2020.
Last, but not least, let’s talk rating. At the beginning of 2019 my USCF rating was 1738 and as 2019 comes to a close it is at 1750. A gain of 28 points isn’t bad. However, when I consider than in 2018 I had hit 1800 I feel like I could have done better this year.
I think the main takeaway from 2019 is I really need to play in more tournaments!