Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 In Review

Warning: I'm the kind of geek who keeps detailed lists and statistics. Here come some now:

I played 56 tournament games in 2008. That's a lot for me--the most since 1988, when I played 57. (I also played 57 in 1976; 68 in 1987; and 90 in 1977). I had five wins against players rated 2200 or over, the most I've ever had in a year.

Almost all those games were played at 30 moves in 90 minutes (followed by one hour smash clock); 5 games from the Marshall Championship were 40/120, and 4 from the Marshall Amateur Team were Game/120. I never played much at fast time controls, and don't think I ever will.

Total score for the year was +28 =17 -11, a performance about 2172; +16 =6 -6 with White (2175) and +12 =11 -5 with Black (2168). That's a very small difference between White and Black performance; +80 Elo is more typical, and it probably means my White openings could stand a little work.

Looking at individual openings, as White, I had a lot of games with the Symmetrical English with d4, and did not do great (2140); I also did poorly with the Reti opening ("London" lines where Black plays ...d5 and ...Bf5 or ...Bg4) (2100), and was +0 =1 -1 against the Dutch. I did very will with the Catalan and Tarrasch QGD (close to 2400), and my Larsen Variation King's Indian was OK (2240). So maybe I need to start playing 1.d4 instead of 1.Nf3.

As Black, my Caro-Kann continued invincible (+7 =9 -0, 2190), with a performance over 2350 against players rated 2000 or above. I've lost only one game with the Caro since I took it up, against GM Charbonneau. I draw a little too much with it against weaker players, but that's the last thing I'm going to worry about at the moment.

Against closed openings, not so successful, although my Queen's Gambit Declined started doing OK (almost 2300, in fact) after being around 2000 the last couple of years). But I've already looked over Vigus' _Play The Slav_ and will start using that. Maybe playing 1...c6 against the English and ...d5/...c6 against the Reti will help with my sub-2000 performance against those.

Anyway, I hope not to study openings too much this year. My wife--who indulges my hobby terribly--got me three books for Christmas: Hertan's Forcing Chess Moves, Lars Bo Hansen's How Chess Games Are Won And Lost, and Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual. I'm working on the Hertan book now, and a bit on the Hansen; later I'll move on to the Analytical Manual. I also need to buckle down to analyzing my own games.

I suspect it's all futile in terms of improvement, but I won't know unless I try.

Have you any idea where your shortcomings lie that prevent further improvement?
Well, the short answer is that it probably poor selection of candidates and/or limited ability to visualize positions 5 or 6 ply down a forcing sequence. That's why I'm trying the Hertan and Dvoretsky books.

The long answer will be a blog post in a day or two.
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