Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Yearly Stats

OTB Classical

  • Number of games: 19 (7.0 total points)

  • Rating on 1/1/23: 840

  • Rating on 12/31/23: 858

  • Highest rating: 898 (1/22/23)

Online Rapid

  • Number of games: 187

  • Rating on 1/1/23: 1480

  • Rating on 12/31/23: 1467

  • Highest rating: 1653 (3/21/23)

Online Blitz

  • Number of games: 949

  • Rating on 1/1/23: 682

  • Rating on 12/31/23: 829

  • Highest rating: 971 (10/1/23)

What Went Well

Over The Board

I got out and played in 4 different weekend tournaments this year. They were all in Minnesota. They were:

Leading up to the tournaments I got into a routine that I learned in the Next Level Training course. Basically it is slowing down and doing less the week before a tournament. However, I’m not sure how well that worked. I did not have great results. More on that in a minute.

None of these were glamorous events, but I enjoyed all of them. It is very rare that I take time to really focus on one specific activity for hours and days at a time. Making the time to do that, even every few months, is refreshing. Going to OTB tournaments makes me remember the exciting and interesting parts about chess, and make me want to renew my focus on studying and improving.


My main focus this year was on consistency. I used Chessable every single day this year. In fact, my streak is up to 880 days on December 31. I’m happy with that high number, but I’ll probably only try to get to 1000 and then not worry about it as much. This was mostly focused on openings, which is not where I want to spend most of my time going forward.

I currently am ranked “Hero” on Chessable and earned a few new badges this year:

  • Mind the Tactics

  • Queen Promotion

  • Well-Connected

I also played games most days. I played at least 1 game 317 days last year. This feels impressive, but it is also a double-edged sword. By the end of the year I was mostly playing blitz, which I do not think was helping my overall improvement. More on that to come as well.


This year, I started by trying to learn some really complex chess openings, but I soon realized they were too tricky for my games.

So, I switched to using a website called ChessBook. It’s great because it lets you choose openings based on your chess rating and decide how deep you want to go into an opening, like moves that might happen only once in a hundred games. I decided to keep things simpler and made a shorter list of openings for playing both black and white pieces.

Not having every line made me get back to thinking about opening principles more instead of long memorized lines. I feel like I should have done that from the start.

For playing white, I based the lines on the the 1. Nf3 Reti opening from a course by FM Nate Solon. For black, I chose to play the King’s Indian and the Sicilian Dragon - these two actually have quite a bit in common with the Reti, which I liked. To get really good at these openings, I put them into Chessable. That way, I could practice them over and over again with spaced repetition, which really helps me remember the moves.

What Didn’t Go Well


This year, I played more blitz chess than I ever have before. At first, it was a great way to try out and work on the new openings I was learning. I even began with a good habit of analyzing each game after I played it. But as the year went on, I started to get a bit lazy with the analysis. Looking back, I don’t really think playing all that blitz helped me improve my overall chess skills. Sure, it was a lot of fun and really exciting at times, but I didn’t make the kind of progress in my game that I had hoped for. It’s a reminder that while blitz is enjoyable, it might not be the best tool for improving the deeper aspects of my chess play.

Over The Board

This year in Over-The-Board (OTB) tournaments, I faced some challenging moments. Out of 19 games, I managed to win 6 and draw 2. Before each game, I felt a surge of excitement, a testament to my passion for chess. However, this excitement often morphed into anxiety as the game progressed, affecting my concentration and decision-making.

I’ve come to realize that a significant factor in my struggles was not feeling fully prepared, and my current thinking process in games isn’t always effective in finding the best moves. Fatigue, too, played a role, leading to avoidable mistakes.

Despite these hurdles, my love for the tournament atmosphere remains strong. It’s clear to me now that I need to train harder, focusing on improving both my preparation and my in-game thought process. This will help transform my initial excitement into a more steady and focused approach during the games.

I’m looking forward to embracing these challenges in future tournaments, aiming to improve my performance and turn my experiences into more consistent successes.

What Do I Want to Change

Deliberate Practice

As I reflect on this year’s experiences in chess, it’s become increasingly clear that a fundamental shift in my training approach is necessary. The concept of deliberate practice stands out as a key element that I need to incorporate more systematically into my regimen. Deliberate practice is not just about playing or studying more; it’s about practicing with a purpose, focusing on specific areas for improvement, and pushing the boundaries of my current abilities.

This means setting clear, targeted goals for each training session, whether it’s honing a particular opening, mastering certain endgame scenarios, or improving my positional understanding.

By adopting this more focused and intentional approach, I’m confident that I can make more meaningful progress, overcoming the plateau I’ve hit in tournaments. This shift in training will help me to not only enjoy the game more but also elevate my skills and performance to new heights.

Setting Goals for 2024

As I set my sights on the year ahead, I’m taking a fresh approach to goal setting in my chess journey. Instead of fixating on outcome-based goals like achieving a certain rating, I’m shifting my focus towards skill-based and process-oriented goals.

This means I’ll concentrate on learning specific new skills and creating detailed study plans. For instance, mastering a new opening or improving my endgame techniques could be a skill-based goal, while dedicating time to analyze games thoroughly might be part of my process goals.

By breaking these down into monthly targets, I can regularly review and adjust my strategies to ensure steady progress. This approach allows me to measure my growth in terms of skill acquisition and process improvement, rather than just a numerical rating.

While I do harbor the aspiration of pushing my OTB rating over 1000, I believe focusing on these skill and process goals will naturally lead to that outcome, providing a more balanced and enriching chess experience.