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!

SCBC 2020 in Review!!

Sundays: 430 pm – 630 pm Nov 29th – Dec 27th or, Monday Dec 28 – Thurs Dec 31st 10am – noon daily!!


Get the inside track on everything we learned in 2020?

1.) With no tournaments, how do players know they are making progress?
We’ve been accurately translating Chess.com numbers into over the board strength for years! That’s just one of the reasons Chess.com chose us to provide the post round analysis for the 2014 and 2016 Virginia Scholastic Championships!

2.) All of our students know to look for checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices on kings and queens and rooks. We are ready to share 2 more, “no skill required” factors that will help anyone win games faster.

3.) When we asked students to tell us the properties of the pieces, they told us how they moved, not what their properties were! This exercise gives an instant boost in understanding and playing strength!

4.) Pawns are fast!? Players were smiling ear to ear when we focused on the way pawns are supposed to be used. Find out their true value and the entertaining threats they pose when your opponents think that pawns are slow and expendable!

5.) A draw is a win! The key to being a better player is playing up! Understanding the rating system will help you get as many points from a draw as you do from a win!!

Registration is from today until the 28th of November or until Dec 27th depending on which class you pick. Cost for this great year ender is just $99.00! Slots are limited so please register early! Email your name, ratings of any kind, and which course you want to; waterman2010kir@aol.com. We will confirm and send you an invoice.

May your holidays be full of chess!!
Coach Mike C

Turning Draws Into Wins! Just 3 fall slots left!?!

Whether it’s chess or body building, every sport is constantly evolving. Some of the variants that are coming out from Alpha Zero are going to change chess training for sure. One of the ways we evolve is to get rid of old ideas and habits! Competitive Chess Players must gain experience at managing risk!! When chess is a toy, there is no risk, not even to the ego!! It’s OK to win, lose or draw and it doesn’t matter how much you miss because there are no rating points on the line.

Let’s talk about the value of a draw and help you understand that a draw is just as good as a win if you manage your risk correctly. To do that, we need to explode a couple of long held myths! Once you enter into competitive chess, it’s win, draw, and never lose. By managing your risk, you can get 25%- 60% more points for a win, enough points to feel like you won from a draw, and if you do lose, they take less points away!

If you played in a quad as a 1200 against a 1400, 1300, and 1200 and scored 1.5, your new rating would be 1220. 2 points would make your new rating 1262!! 1 point would only drop you to 1195. If everyone was rated 1200, 1.5 gets you 1200, 2 points only get’s you 1225, and 1 point would drop you to 1175!! For the lower rated player, a 1300 gave them odds of 9-7 and the 1400 gave them odds of 5-3. These odds, the risk, are all imaginary until you have reached the 1st Category, 1800 and above!! You should expect to lose when chess is a toy. You are obligated to win or draw when it’s a tool! When you lose 3-5 days from work, pay lodging, pay transportation, meals, entry fees, and other expenses, that’s a really expensive toy!!

Myth # 1 … “Look for the best move every time.” Simply ridiculous!?! Look at this position with white to move:

There are 16 equally good moves in this position. There is only the move that suits your taste. I’ll say it again, Grandmasters beat other Grandmasters by making their opponents play unfamiliar middlegames from familiar openings. If you put any classic line on your computer, after about 12-14 moves the positions will read, “=”!!

Myth #2 “Draws don’t get you anywhere?!” Ridiculous!! Draws don’t get you anywhere among equals, but when playing up, you can have more draws than wins and get a, “Category” result.

15 | MICHAEL CALLAHAM |2.0 |D 13|W 4|L 7|D 16|L 6|
VA | 12417373 / R: 1881 ->1910 |N:1

I was playing in an under 2200 section when I earned that performance.

Myth #3 “Experience” is the best teacher”

In chess this is only half true!?! With 100’s of years of games and advice available, why would you be learning from your experiences when you can use someone else’s? Jason Morefield has gotten his rating all the way up to 2337 in just 407 games and only 84 events. He achieved the Category of, Life Master in Jan 2019!! All this talk is about saving the family time, money, and effort. No one is better at that than us! Call for a free consultation and quote! Your wallet, spouse, and other children will thank you!! Call Mike Callaham today. 804-426-6058.

World Open U1800 Game 6

[Event “Worl Open U1800”]
[Date “2019.07.06”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Eric Tipton”]
[Black “Mike Callaham”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “C41”]
[WhiteElo “1775”]
[BlackElo “1741”]
[Annotator “Scholarship,Chess”]
{Round 6. I’m feeling good and rested. It’s time to close the deal. Just
taking it round by round and trying to stay on procedure. I looked up every
opponent’s history before the game. How many games, how have they performed
against higher rated players, and what is the sum total of their experience.
Here, we enter a Philidor. We kept it level for a while but then I slowly
managed to pull away. Then some full board play gets me the advantage. A
nice game.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O

world open 6-1Diagram # Everyone knows the Philidor up to this point. Now they have all the other openings going through their heads. They can play Qe2, Qd3, Re1, a3, a4, Bb3, Be2, Be3, Bg5, h3, de, b3, b4, and Nh4. The more common of those choices appear in other openings. While there are several books on the Philidor, none of them really explain where the white pieces are supposed to be placed and  where the black pieces should not be allowed to get to. If you want to read my article on the Philidor, go to http://www.vachess.org and download or view newsletter 2010-1. Of course I kept a few things to myself, but I’d be willing to explain more to anyone that comes by the club or contacts me. The most instructive part of the article is, “The Plan”!! If you can find a comparable way to explain any opening you are playing, your chances of success with that opening will skyrocket!! 7. Re1 c6 8. a4 Qc7 9. b3!? This is Alekhine’s idea. This line was published in the 1953 book that originally got me interested in the Philidor.  h6 10. Bb2 Re8 11. Bf1?!  Don’t retreat! That gives equality. Fritz actually approves of black’s next move. Nf8 12. g3 Ng6 13. Bg2world open 6-2Every double fianchetto player will tell you, this set up is wrong. You shouldn’t double fianchetto and have the knights on f3 and c3 or the knights on f6 and c6. In a double fianchetto, one of the wing pawns must stay mobile to attack the center and force the center pawns to move or exchange to open lines for the bishops!? Here, the center pawns are no match for black and he can choose to fight on either wing because his pawn structure is fluid and the opponent’s pawn structures are identical and static.} a5 14.
Re2 The jig is up! I am 100% sure my opponent doesn’t have a plan and is stalling. My next move is really designed at putting my rook on d8 and then moving the bishop again to clear the file. It looks like I’m just trying to develop but I’m not. It looks like I don’t have anything to do either but I do. This kind of hidden purposeful play can put your opponents to sleep and/or take tons of time of their clock. When I’m playing the Philidor I move slowly until were castled and then I make my opponent calculate and plan on their own time. Any opening you know as well as I described earlier can be used in this manor!  Bd7 15. d5 Rad8 16. dxc6?world open 6-3The 1st real mistake. White can’t exchange on e5 because black controls d5 but white
doesn’t control d4. Here white reduces the number of spaces his pawns control
in the center with no compensation whatsoever. Now black can plan his center
expansion knowing that the challengers to that expansion are stuck behind the
knights. If the knights move to stop the expansion, they have to go to the 1st or 2nd rank. I think if that happens the bishop pair will die and the weaknesses left behind will give black targets since the knights will have no forward outposts!? (16. Qd3 h5 17. h4 Bg4 18. Rd1 Nf8=world open 6-4Ba3=, Rb1=, Ree1=, Rdd2=, Red2=, Qe3=, Qd2=, Qc4=, Ra1=, Rf1=, Rde1=, Kh1=. when I say equal, I mean equal. lol ) 16… bxc6 Black now has the initiative! 17. Rd2 Be6?! Wrong way?! Should have put it on c8 like I originally planned. 18. Qe2 Bg4 (18… d5 seemed rushed to me, and after 19. exd5 Bxd5 20. Re1 Bf8 21. Nxd5 cxd5 22. Rc1 Bc5 or (22… Ne4 23. Rdd1 Bc5 24. Rf1 isn’t really accomplishing anything.) 23. Rdd1 Qb6 24. Bh3 Re7 25. Bf5 e4 26. Nd4 Ne5 27. Bc3 Under analysis, this does show how the bishops can play out of the holes!) 19. h3 Bc8 20. Rad1 Rd7 21. Nh2 Qb6 22. Nf1 Ba6 23. Qe3 Qb8world open 6-5The last 5 moves have been like watching 2 computers play. lol it’s stil =,=,= and more equal!! 24. Kh2 Bd8 25. Ba3 {?!} Bb6 26. Qf3?  Mistakes come in what? Pairs!?} (26. Qe1 Qa7 27. Ne3 Bc5 or (27… Bd4 28. Na2 Qb6 29. Nf5 d5 30. Nxd4 exd4 31. Rxd4 c5 32. R4d2 Nxe4 or (32… d4 33. Nc1 (33. f4 h5 34. f5 Ne5 35. Nc1 Rde7 36. c3 Nxe4 37. cxd4 Nxd2 38. Qxd2 Rd7 39. Bxc5 Qc7 40. Qg5 h4 41. Rg1=) 33. Rxd5 Rxd5 34. Rxd5 Nf6 35. Bxc5 Qc7 36. Bd6 Rxe1 37. Bxc7 Nxd5 38. Bxd5 Re2 39. Bxa5 Rxf2+ 40. Kg1 Rxc2 41. Nb4 Rc1+ 42. Kf2 Rf1+ 43. Kg2 Rf5 44. Nxa6 Rxd5 45. b4  Black has a slight edge, but everybody better get over there!) 28. Bxc5 Qxc5 29. Nc4 Bxc4 30. bxc4 Qxc4 31. Rxd6 Rxd6 32. Rxd6 Nf8 33. Bf1 Qc5 34. Rd1 Rb8 35. Kg2 Ne6 {Black has the edge but it’s all still real tough to quantify!)
26… d5!?world open 6-6This sets an obvious trap! The queen has one escape square, so taking on d5 really isn’t an option!  On the other hand I could have tried the straight forward Bd4, but I knew he was going to chop it just to relieve the pressure! The other factor plays out in analysis that sooner or later I have to give back a piece for some pawns. So it would just be equal anyway and I couldn’t see any advantage in that. The piece is active and I want to keep it for a while. (26… Bd4 27. Rxd4 exd4 28. Rxd4 c5 29. Rd1 Ne5 30. Qf5 c4 31. Nd2 or (31. f4? This traps the queen! Nfg4+ 32. hxg4 g6 33. Qxd7 Nxd7 34. bxc4 ) 31… cxb3 32. Nxb3 Qc7 33. Bb2 Bc4 34. Nd4 Qb6 35. Ndb5 Be6 36. Qf4 Rcholding on to a nagging advantage!) 27. Bh1?? This is not good better would have been (27. Ne3 d4 28. Nf5 Kh7 29. Ne2 Nf8 30. Bxf8 Rxf8 Finally compelling him to part with a bishop would have been good for now!) ( 27. exd5 {?? The trap} e4 28. Qf5 Re5 29. Qxd7 Nxd7 30. dxc6 Nf6 31. Bd6 Qe8
32. Bxe5 Qxe5 {He didn’t fall for it. Ne3 isn’t that easy to see either until
you realize that black’s pawn is pinned and you’ve got the kingside threats of
Nf5 and Nh6 and Qf6 until black breaks the pin! That’s why I always say, ” On
your turn spend time looking to see what you can do to them 1st!! Then look
and see what they can do to you!}) 27… Bd4 28. Bb2? Mistakes come in pairs!! Red8? Sometimes triples!?} (28… Bxf1 29. Rxf1 Nxe4 30. Rxd4 exd4 31. Nxe4 dxe4 32. Qg4 Ne5 33. Qxe4 c5 34. Qf4 Rde7 35. Ba3 Qb6 36. Bg2 {and I’d have gotten what I call, ” The static exchange” I got him to exchange rook for bishop, but there’s no other obvious advantage.) 29. Ba1 Qc7?! world open 6-7This gives back a lot, but I just liked everyone where they were. The trap is gone and now ed is the best move. That’s funny. lol 30. Qg2?? (30. exd5 cxd5 31. Nb5 I’d always considered he’d take the Bishop too.  (31. Rxd4 exd4 32. Nb5 Bxb5 33. axb5 This is a must move in both lines. The knight going back to d4 is definitely a better blockader than the Bishop! Qxc2 34. Bxd4 Ne4 35. Bg2 Ng5 36. Qd3 Qxd3 37. Rxd3 Ne6) 31… Bxb5 32. axb5 Bxa1 33. Rxa1 Ne4 34. Qd3 Nxd2 35. Qxd2 Another static exchange!) 30… Bxc3 31. Bxc3 Nxe4 32. f3?? or (32. Qf3 f5 (32… Nxd2 33. Bxd2 c5 34. Qc3 Bxf1 35. Rxf1 Ra8 36. Qd3 e4 37. Qe2 Ne5 38. f3 exf3 39. Bxf3 Nxf3+ 40. Rxf3 is winning.) 33. Re1 Rd6 34. Rdd1 f4 35. Nd2 Qb6 36. gxf4 Nxc3 37. Qxc3 Qxf2+ 38. Bg2 Nxf4 39. Qf3 Qh4 40. Qg4 Qf6 works for me too!) 32… Nxc3 33. Re1 e4 34. Rf2 Nh4world open 6-8A move from the Philidor campaign as late as move 34!! At this point, it’s time to take as much material as I can and then exchange down to a won ending.} 35. Qg1 exf3 36. Bxf3 Ne4 37. Bxe4 dxe4 38. Re3 Nf3+ 39. Rexf3 exf3 40. Rxf3 Bxf1 41. Rxf1 Rd2+ 42. Kh1 Qd6 43. Qa7 Qd5+ 44. Kg1 Qg2# It was a game right out of the Philidor campaign. This brought me to 5.5 out of 6! Still got 3 games left.  Time for my CBD and a nap to get ready for round 7.