2006 Review / Goals for 2007:
The year 2006 was a good year overall for me. Chess did not go as well as I had hoped. I figured I should reflect on my goals from last year, see where I hit and where I missed and make some new goals for 2007.
My goals last year were to:
1) Break 2200 USCF, preferably by the end of National Open
2) Reduce the frequency of offering/taking draws from superior positions.
Well on #1 I would say I failed, but I don't think I appreciated the difficulty I would face in trying to break this mark. So after the last tournament of 2005 (North American Open 2005) my rating was 2094 coming off of 2 strong results. This year started with some solid showings. I failed to show good form in a couple of rounds in last year's Western Class Championship, but then followed it with a strong 5.5/6 (4.5/5 played) at Amateur Team West to help my team win and with the 4th board prize. I followed that up with some reasonable results including a tournament I was quite happy with at Western Pacific Open where I think I showed some good chess, but had one game which I lost a totally dominating position due to missing the critical moment in the game. Probably due to a lack of confidence I had some bad results following that and lost most of my progress.
Then came my move to San Francisco which I started with a particularly lucky result to get a 4.5/5 in a g/45 tournament up here which was immediately followed with a heartbreaking Southern California state championships candidate tournament which went beautifully with a draw against my friends (as solid master) as black round 2 and a win over a strong expert in round 3 just to carelessly blunder a piece in round 4 and barely miss qualification. Again I saw a some mixed results in g/45 tournaments which doesn't particularly bother me so much as the results in such quick time controls can be somewhat random, but I had very bad showings in both the Northern California State Championships and the Western States Open in Reno while simultaneously having an amazing result in the Tuesday night marathon which I spoiled when I blundered execessively to get miniatured in the last round as white. Still though even through these bad results I luckily managed not to lose FIDE rating points in any of them while my USCF rating did a little very temporary dip below 2100. Lately I feel like I've been playing quite solidly with real chances to have breakthrough results, but I've kept coming short. American Open I managed to show a very sad quality of poor technique in winning my won positions which I was very disappointed with. I played the strong East Bay FIDE Swiss and had a solid performance there, but again missed some key opportunities in some of my games both where I could have failed to win a won game and where I failed to be as resourceful as I could in some of the other games. Then recently in Las Vegas I saw laziness in quite a few of my moves. I'm hoping this was just due to fatigue after just having finished a long tournament, but I will be very aware when I play in my upcoming event in 2 weeks.
Why didn't I break 2200?
I don't think I was working as hard and specifically on the right areas as I should have been. I've been making a serious effort to improve my calculation lately, I still feel like this is one area I'm significantly lacking in and I will continue to work on. Right now I have two problems in that I'm both a lazy calculator (I miss opportunities for both sides) and my calculations are a little slow, but there are instances where I've seen some improvement lately. I also think I underestimated the difficulty of this goal, but I feel confident that I'm closing in on this barrier.
What about the other goal?
I think I did a better job of declining draws in positions where I felt I was the one with more to play for, possibly a few slips from this, but for the most part I showed a good killer instinct in this respect. On the other hand I saw that I was having a lot of trouble winning won positions which I feel I should be able to win a very high proportion of the time.
Goals for 2007:
1) Break 2200 USCF (currently ~2128): I'm hoping this won't be as hard as it's seemed lately, I need to continue to work on my calculation.
2) Break 2200 FIDE (as it stands approximately 85 points to go): This will have the nice benefit of enabling me to play in such events as the Las Vegas Masters more easily, I think I need to fix some of the problems I have where I make bad decisions to lose the games in simple situations. This is particularly bad against lower rated players where I should win more often than not.
3) IM or GM scalp. I had more than a few good shots in 2006, the older and wiser me should be better at carrying through.
If anybody thinks of some more good ones that I should have I'd be more than willing to consider them.