Measuring My Chess Progress Beyond Wins and Losses
As a chess player, I often ask myself - did I have a good day? Was yesterday better or worse than two days ago? The simplest metrics are wins, losses, and rating changes on Chess.com. However, these don’t tell the whole story. I want to measure my progress more holistically, focusing on habits over results. I also want something simple that I can compare day to day.
Introducing, Matt’s daily score:
What Information Do I Have?
For each game on Chess.com, I already record the date, result (win/loss), my rating at the time, and my accuracy percentage. This gets automatically added to a Google sheet every day so I don’t have to do anything.
While rating changes show my skill level, I find ratings too attached to end results. Wins and losses depend heavily on your opponent. I want to focus inward.
The Risks of Measurement Changing Behavior
Whenever you are measuring something, there is a a phenomenon known as the “observer effect.” It describes the situation in scientific experiments where the act of observing something inevitably alters the thing being observed. For example, in social science experiments, it can refer to individuals changing their behavior because they know they are being studied.
Can I use this to my advantage? What if I want a change to happen? If I measure a habit that I want to improve, then me gaming the system, is actually just building up good habits.
My Key Focus Areas
There are a few things I’ve noticed lately that I want to improve on:
I care more about my progress in rapid chess than blitz. Blitz has a place, but too much is damaging. logseq.order-list-type:: number
Reviewing my games and learning from mistakes is vital. logseq.order-list-type:: number
I also want to reward taking days off to recharge. logseq.order-list-type:: number
Calculating a Daily Chess Score
I tried to figure out how I could measure this. Then I asked ChatGPT and came up with this:
I start with a baseline score of 100 each day.
I subtract points for each rapid game (13 points) and blitz game (8 points) played
I add back points based on my accuracy percentage to reward focus and learning.
There are additional penalties if I play more than 5 blitz games a day
Weird Results and Changes in My Behavior
Let’s look again:
Some strange things:
On 11/21, I played many blitz games without reviewing them, tanks my score.
On 11/28, I made the same mistake.
By 12/3, I took the day off chess entirely just to get back to 100.
Now when I sit down to play, I’m extremely aware of how each game impacts my daily score. I’m more focused, making fewer blunders, and reviewing every game - better habits!
I could consider adding factors like Chessable study time and Chess Steps training modules completed. But for now, keeping it simple around a few key habits is working well. My daily scores have trended up and are more consistent over the last week!
What other ideas do you have for measuring real chess progress?