Three Strikes...Am I Out?

I have had three so-so rated tournaments in a row (not including the Jr. High State Championship which was not rated).  Not what I want--which is AMAZING tournaments (or even really good tournaments would be acceptable). My rating has only gone down a little bit in each one, but it hasn't gone up either.  It is hard when you are traveling a lot and spending a lot a time and money to have your rating go the opposite direction than you want it to be going!!

My rating is right at the point where I am almost always the top of the bottom half of the Open Section in the tournaments that I am playing.  For those of you who don't know, they list everyone in the tournament by rating and then for the first round, the top of the top half plays the top of the bottom half.  This means that I usually get a GM or a high IM that should be a GM (not that I am thinking of anyone in particular, and I am especially not thinking of Enrico Sevillano Smile) for my first round.  I play a good game and I fight hard, but I end up losing in the end.  I am not sorry about the chance to play the GMs.  It is a great experience and one of these days....I am going to win!  For right now though, losing to a GM in the first round puts me playing a lower rated player (than I am) in the next round. This has been the case in all my last few tournaments except one where I got a bye instead Frown. As I told about in a previous blog, playing a lower rated player makes me nervous because I am expected to win, but I am not going to get into that now.  One of the other problems with playing someone lower rated than you is that they like to lock it up because they are happy with a draw.  This is just bad!!  It is good for me in the sense that people are going to keep doing this and I need to learn how to beat it, but I think everyone should play their best and play for a win otherwise they are not really getting anything from the game (except a half point from a higher rated player Smile).  This may improve your rating, but it does not improve your skill, and in the end skill is what you need most, not rating points.

So, after three so-so tournaments and a hope that I have not struck out yet, what have I learned.  Karpov said, "You have to lose at least 200 serious games if you want to be a strong player."  I don't know how many serious games I have lost (probably not 200), but I do know how important it is to learn from my losses.  In my last tournament, I found myself in a drawish position 5 out of 6 games.  My results from those games were one loss, two draws, and two wins.  In the final game, my opponent (who was lower rated than me) offered me a draw.  I considered it because before that point it seemed sort of drawish.  But then I saw something that clearly gave me the advantage.  For the first time, I really understood something that my teacher had been trying for a LONG (very long) time to teach me.  He is constantly saying, "Play simple"  "Look for the simple win" and "You (meaning me) complicate things too much."  I got it!!  I saw the simple win without having to complicate my position to the point that I can no longer defend it (not that I have done that before). 

I think that one of the other things I need to work on (at least according to my teacher) is having a better sense of the danger.  I play aggressive moves that might put me in danger, but I sometimes don't sense that danger as much as I should and then it gets me in trouble.

And then, sometimes I panic that I am going to make the wrong move and then I make the wrong move because I am panicking.  Still working on that one!!

Last time I was struggling to make the next jump in my chess, I did some pretty crazy things...and they worked!!  I am about to do some pretty crazy things again, but I can't really talk about that right now so, as they say on TV, "Tune in next time to find out."

Puzzle time, here is the answer to last blogs puzzle:


This next puzzle has multiple solutions, so I am adding a rule.

This is a help mate problem, so you play both sides. White has five moves to mate black and it has to be with the a1 rook. My rule is: You have to move one of white's knights at least once.





Think you have a really good chess problem. Send it to me and you might see it on one of my blogs.


  • 7 years ago


    A reason why I would want a draw with say a GM, is just so I could say "hey I drew a GM once!". And since the draw is easier than the win, that's a more likely goal.

    If I were to "play for the draw", I would not try to just trade, I would merely try to get in positions without many imbalances and play very safe, but STILL have some kind of plan in mind.

  • 7 years ago


    Always play to win, why bother if you don't ... That is unless you have a million dollars on the line and all you have to do is draw your opponent...that's a different story.



  • 7 years ago


    Sometimes (i am not saying always) a player will offer a draw when he sees a move that will screw him and offers a draw in hopes that you will accept not see that move. That is why you should always analyze the position before accepting a draw.

  • 7 years ago


    Kayden, bear in mind, if a player playing for a draw gets to you. You may have a chink in your armour. Learn to love the situation, relish what the other player is doing. Play their game for them, think through what they're doing. If it is possible, then you haven't done enough. Find out what gave them the position. The better you get at seeing the draws, the easier you can avoid them.

    Remember, if you are better, you're likely to see more than them. So don't trust that a draw can be seen. You are right that a player can't be amazing without learning to win, conversely, without knowing how to draw, without seeing how players get the draws each time, you won't be able to win. Your aim is to throw a hammer into the works.

    Mentally adjust to the situation you're in, enjoy every second, be alert and remember drawing is a skill and stopping a draw is a better skill! Your desire to force a result may impede on your judgement, be wary of that. Also consider assuming your opponent can draw, think how they'll do it. Take it away. Sometimes the mental aspect is just as important as the technical part.

    All the best. I hope some of that can help.

  • 7 years ago


  • 7 years ago

    GM KaydenTroff

    Zuud08, I understand what you are saying.  I didn't say it wasn't skillful to get a draw, I said that it doesn't improve your skill because I don’t believe you play your best, when your only strategy is to lock it up or go for the draw. Even though you might be able to improve your defensive play, the problem is that is all you will improve. In the end, I doubt you could become a GM or IM with only defensive skills (you could but I doubt it).  What do you do if you then are the higher rated player and your opponent is the one that wants the draw and all you have learned is defensive play. You might be a 2200 or 2300 in defense but you won't want a draw, you will want to win. I agree that it takes skill to draw against higher rated players, but I wouldn’t want (in the long run) to be just a defensive player, I want to be great all-around. I think you should play your best all-around then after the game when you are analyzing you can see your mistakes defensive and offensive and improve all-around.  I also agree that I need to have the ability to break through even when they lock it up which is what I said in my blog.

  • 7 years ago


    locking up and getting 1/2 a point against a higher opponent is a whole skill in itself... and is very important in chess... do not underestimate that.

    Defensive chess is a very useful skill... normally a good defensive player ends up winning because his opponent created too many weaknesses in trying to win...

    However, most lower players think it is enough to get a closed position with locked pawns or with symetary to draw.... that is fasr from the truth, and good players eat up lower players in such strategic positions...

    If you are not winning enough when the lower play locks means you are weak strategically... you have to focus on what exchanges to make? what plan to build? how to use your space? etc...

    Winning such locked games should become 2nd nature....and then ur rating WILL go up!

  • 7 years ago

    GM KaydenTroff

    I was talking about the problem from my last blog.  Msoewulff said that he thought white was going the other way on the problem so I told him to make sure and check the numbers which are on the problem just not on the solution. 

  • 7 years ago


    check the numbers on the side? of the board? they aren't there...

  • 7 years ago

    NM smalugu

    @Kayden Well I am going through the exactly cycle as you. Though I might be 10 years older than you :) I am playing pretty actively but losing points in all the tournaments. Right now my rating's gone to 2193 so I am un-mastered :P. For me the problem is exactly opposite - I am playing in local tournaments where I am usually in top-3 seeds and all my opponents are happy to get a draw of me. So, I am not even contending with higher rated players than me :( Guess I should play more in national opens

  • 7 years ago

    GM KaydenTroff

    Thanks for the suggestion Smile.

  • 7 years ago


    Great blog. But if I may make one suggestion, it was more interesting to see Annotated Games rather than Puzzles at the end of each article.

  • 7 years ago

    GM KaydenTroff

    sajor if you mean with those rules it is not possible to mate in the second puzzle, that would be incorrect. PurplePuppy has even found an additional answer.

  • 7 years ago


    cannot be for the second puzzle, or so i think

  • 7 years ago

    IM dpruess

    Thanks for sharing that, Kayden. Seems you take your losses pretty well (unless you're just pretending Tongue out). Hopefully you'll inspire other people to learn from their losses too, rather than getting into negative cycles.

  • 7 years ago

    GM KaydenTroff

    Yea I have done that with some problems, just need to make sure and check the numbers on the side before you start analyzing.

  • 7 years ago


    i thought white was going the other way

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