Pretty much everything in my life over the last year has been a whirlwind, and chess was not exempt from that chaos. It had been a long time since I played chess regularly when I started playing again in May of 2021. So many times before I would dive headfirst into chess with an massively unrealistic set of goals and expectations. Eventually I’d realize that those goals were unachievable and give up chess for a while.
This time, things have been different…
Focusing heavily on Daily (e-correspondence) chess, I’ve seen a massive improvement in the quality of my gameplay and my overall rating. What was typically a 50-100 point increase had jumped threefold over the past twelve months with a monumental jump from 800 to 1300 ELO!
There have been bumps in the road along the way, but the quality of my play and my confidence has gradually increased throughout the year. It was only recently that I took time to pull up my stats on Chess.com and see how much I have actually improved. But what exactly has changed from before?
Well, for starters, I’ve switched to much slower forms of chess. I’ve realized that my PTSD does not give me the focus and response time necessary to play blitz and bullet chess for serious rating. They’re okay for fun, but they’re often brutally messy and not nearly as positive an outcome as the more classical variants and daily chess. In addition, I’ve been regularly watching YouTube chess videos and reading through games of my favorite players (Morphy, Fischer, Larsen, etc.). Occasionally I’ll recognize a position or tactic in one of my games that I’ve seen in those books, but mostly reading keeps me in the mode and focused on playing the game.
Here’s a perfect example of recent play that I’m very proud of. This particular game was rough and ended with a beautiful tactic to win my opponent’s queen:
There’s still so much to learn and so much to do! I recognize that it takes hard work to play this game and I don’t expect to ever play at a master level. I also recognize that I’ll face slumps and dips, but I am reaching a point where I feel confident enough that I can continue to play and improve in a way that is reasonable and reachable.
Game on, Campers!