Ratings Schmatings!?! What’s your “Handicap”?

The thing is, your actual strength, the thing that most determines if you are following grandmaster advice is your, “Category”. Your Category is actually supposed to lead your rating, not the other way around! Following grandmaster advice it is possible to have a category result with a performance of 1-2-2. I know because that’s the score I got in the under 2200 section while my rating was 1880. My post tournament rating went to 1910. If US Chess started calling bonus points a, “Handicap” more people would understand and play up. Today everyone wants to play in the prize section.

If your rating is 1100 and you play in the under 1200 section and you win with a score of 4.5 you will get to 1276. 73 of that is bonus/handicap points. If you played in the under 1400 and got 3.5 your new rating would be 1270, with 71 bonus/handicap points and it would be a category 3 result.

Earning a category has no rating requirements. Earning a title does have category requirements. As you improve, Category results are harder and harder to get because the people you need to play to get that category are becoming rarer and rarer. To make it even more difficult, you are playing people that are in decline. By that I mean there are more former masters in the expert section than there are former experts in the under 1900, and under 1800 sections. By playing up and using your “handicap” you will always have the opportunity to achieve the category before the rating!!

“3 Norm and Title rules
The following table specifies the set of titles, and whether a player needs to have attained an
established rating above the rating level to earn the title.
Rating Level Title Rating Requirement?
1200 4th Category No
1400 3rd Category No
1600 2nd Category No
1800 1st Category No
2000 Candidate Master Yes
2200 Life Master Yes
2400 Life Senior Master Yes

  1. Norms can only be earned in events of 4 rounds or more.”

A critical requirement is that your result in a tournament has to be more than a point higher than your statistically averaged expected result. If you would be expected to average 3.48 points in six rounds then you would have to score at least 4.4801 points (actually 4.5) in the six rounds. If you play tournaments where you are near the top-rated in the section then it may be difficult to get that exceptional performance because even going 6 out of 6 is not enough when your average expected result is 5.03 out of 6 (kind of hard to exceed a perfect score).

Don’t forget also that the ELO chart was originally for titled players…Candidate Master and up. That’s why the spread only covers 677 point of differential up or down. The ELO system didn’t originally have k’s or bonus points. The rating systems used by websites don’t offer bonus points or categories. That’s because websites are a toy until you make them a tool, not a tool that you’ve turned into a toy.

Today there are players and parents that are treating chess like bridge. In chess, you are wasting your money by just playing all the time. Only in chess is other people’s experience the best teacher!?! Go to the top 100 list of ages 7 and up and look up their history. You will find that more than 80% of the people on the list got their rating points from playing down, that they have a category 2 and even 3 levels below their rating, most have no category at all, and they are averaging less than 4 points per game they play since acquiring a established rating. (more than 25 games). How do you reach 1800 and have no Category after 282 games!?! They don’t have their ratings because of how hard they work!?! They are not the product of following grandmaster advice!?! They have their rating because of how often they play. When you go to statistics by year, some of them are playing 125, 150, 175, even 200 games a year. They are coming away with 50, 150, or 250 points a year!?!(sad) Don’t take my word for any of this. Go check. After looking at the histories you’ll never be afraid of someone higher rated again!!

2021 is your year. What are you doing to figure out how to get the most of your time in chess. You owe it to yourself to get some coaching and save some money in the coming years! We have a proven system against players under 1800. Our students typically earn 8-15 points per game. They achieve the same ratings as other players with less than 100 games a year! If that interest you, please contact us for FREE information!

After Snow, Liquidation Sale, 2/1- 2/7

One of the great things about being in charge is having flexibility. I can’t tell you how many calls I got about the snow. We are a 1 snowflake state! lol Whether they played chess or not, Fri, Sat, and Sunday I could have sold chess stuff to people if I had eggs, bread, and milk!?! The Sale continues!!

Tues – Fri 5 pm-830 pm, daytime , by appointment.

Saturday 9 am – 7 pm

Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

Book dealers and wholesale equipment dealers are welcome. Remainder to be donated to the North Ave, Hull Street, and 25th Street branches of the Richmond Public Library.

Call if looking for titles. 804-426-6058.

Deep Discount, Books, Sets, and Clock Sale! 1/23 – 1/31!?!

After a few major donations and some acquisitions of our own we are loaded with discount chess equipment! Wood, plastic, onyx, ceramic, and tournament! Flat wood boards, folding wood boards, vinyl boards,(green, black, blue, red, wood grain, and money boards) , Mario Cart, the Simpsons. We even have Staunton’s complete with box, key, and board! We have touch clocks, analog clocks, and Chronos. We’ve got 1,000 books out! Hard cover and paperback of many desirable titles for beginners, intermediates, and up. If you are a collector, you need to get over here!! Openings, middle games, combinations, tactics, strategy. Every book we have is bound to be someone you know or would respect! Game collections, Candidate matches. Everything is new, or in slightly used condition. Classics up to books published in 2019. We have 2 Alpa Zero Books, My Great Predecessors, and the best endgame collections of every era.

Everything is priced to sell!!! No reasonable offer refused!!! You can shop by phone and we will ship it to you. More than happy to message you a picture of any item. Cash or credit card is fine. Tired of just looking at a screen with no words? We have the deals. Choice of 1 free book from selected titles with any $30.00 purchase. Free Informant with any $75.00 purchase.

I took pictures of all the titles and will be happy to send you titles for the area you are interested in. Pictures were going to take up too much space and I’m not good at editing videos. Look for live FB feeds each day during the sale!!

When visiting please wear your mask and expect to be hand sanitized upon entry and before departure!?!

Hours: Today until 6pm

Sunday 10 am – 6pm

Monday – Friday 6pm – 9pm or by appointment. I have to run in and out for mail, dropping paperwork, and other business, etc but am usually close by. I’m usually in the office by 8:30 am.

Saturday 1/30 8am – 6pm

Sunday 1/31 9am – 630 pm

To schedule an appointment, phone shop, or make an inquiry, just call me!! 804-426-6058!

Getting, “It” Done In 2021!

What’s your, “It” for 2021? We no longer have an elephant in the room! Covid, masks, social distancing are here to stay for a while. Why? Because people are nasty, hard headed, selfish, law breaking, hypocrites, that’s why. Reread, “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and then wear your mask!?! People won’t wear masks, they won’t wash their hands, they won’t stop touching their faces, and they refused to social distance. We had the opportunity as a country to show the world how this virus could be contained. Instead we acted like it wasn’t that serious. Real or not, serious or not, curable or not, vaccinable or not, it is changing the social structure of the world. Chess does not have to be one of it’s casualties!!!

The good news is that chess is a brain function more than it is a social one. By that, I mean you can prepare and improve the same way people always have… Alone!?! Chess is an inner game. So how do you measure your success if you can’t get to any tournaments. The sad part is that most people don’t know how to measure chess success at all!

Most people think that you measure chess success by ratings. That’s simply ridiculous. The only thing you are measuring is the player’s, “Estimated Strength”! If the only thing your coach cares about is your rating, you will waste thousands of dollars and waste thousands of hours taking the slow route to get good at this game! Using ratings exclusively to determine if someone is a success at chess is the same as using a High School Diploma to determine if someone was a successful student! Every degree you can get is a bench mark of strength. High School Diploma, Bachelor’s, Master’s, PHD, are all just measures of minimum performance strength. What was their GPA? Did they graduate on time? Early? Late? What courses did they take? How many courses did they fail? Did they go on campus or get their degree through continuing education? What else did you do while you were in school to make sure you got a, “well rounded education”?

So now we come to chess. C Player, B Player, A Player, Candidate Master, Master, Senior Master. These are indications of strength for sure, but are they indications of success? As a coach and an employer, success has to be determined by their road to success as well as their destination! How long have they been playing? How regularly do they play? What type of competition have they faced? What is their winning %? Higher rated? Lower rated? What is their P %? What is their career PPG? Annual PPG? What is their Category? Does it match their rating? How well rounded are they? Are they a Certified Coach? Are they a Certified Tournament Director? Do they have any Affiliate experience?

This former World Champion, Viswanathan Anand is giving us a lesson just by taking a picture. Your computer is a toy and a tool but it’s not the boss!?! Everyone of us plays and studies differently on a computer than we do on a board. At some level what’s going on just isn’t real to our brain until it’s, “out in the real world”. Until we start the conversion from toy to tool, any success you think you are having on the computer is an indulgent delusion!? Let’s say you are doing tactics on Chess.com and your rating is 1600. If you solve a 1600 puzzle it will give you 12-16 points. If you fail that 1600 problem, it will deduct 12-16 points. Here’s the delusion. After you fail that 1600 problem you will get a 1200 problem and get 8 points, then a 1300 problem and get 10 points, then a 1400 problem and get 12 points. That’s not the ELO system! That’s the, “Please don’t leave when you fail because you weren’t paying attention because it’s a toy.” system!! LOL

If we are going to grow in our capacity to win and draw chess games we must remember that perfect practice makes perfect! You must be determined not to settle. For most of us, (me too sometimes) the computer is like setting up a puzzle on the board and then peaking in the back of the book to see if we got the 1st move right. still LOL If you want your computer to help you, then you must set up for serious training. You must write out the entire answer and any variations before you move. You must play to win or draw at all times if you expect to develop your, “Tournament Eye” and intuition. And, finally, you need to look at your statistics, not your rating to determine if you are actually making progress.

To lend some definitions;

P%= Protection Percentage. If you play 50 games with a record of 25-10-15, Your P% is 70%! Awesome if you are playing up most of the time, average if you are playing in your class most of the time, weak if most of your opponents are lower rated than you.

PPG = Points Per Game. Points Per Game is taking the number of points you’ve earned since coming out of the provisional ranks and dividing that by the number of games played! An average of 3 or better is good money! Anything less means you need to be doing more analysis and fixing instead of playing all the time. Just so you know, learning from playing alone is the slowest way to get good at chess!!! Let’s say that after your 25th game your rating was 754. After 5 years and 300 games your new rating is 1995. That’s good money. If after 25 games you were 971 and after 5 years and 600 games your new rating is 2237, you should have spent more time doing analysis and studying instead of playing so much!?!

Category and Ratings match. If they’ve played 100 games since they got to 2000 and they are still a Category 1 player, or they’ve played 100 games since they got to 1800 and are still a Category 2 player, that means that they are only good at beating players their rating and below. You can not experience growth by playing in your class all the time. You been duped into using prize categories as achievement markers!! The only time you are supposed to play in your class is when you are trying to win the prize! Parents select class sections for their children all the time. It’s a direct contradiction to Grandmaster advice!!

To get a scholarship or make chess count on a Middle School, High School, College Application, or Resume, you need to be a complete Chess Personality/Manager. Being a Nationally Certified Coach or Referee of any kind demands respect and elevates these applicants to peers instead of subordinates during any kind of interview!

In Closing I want to say that, “It” is possible for you in 2021! Whatever, “It” is, we can help!

Coach Mike C