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!

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.

Coaching Saves Time, Money, and Effort! 5 slots left!

That’s not so bold a claim once you get to know us and what we are about. We’re Coaches not instructors, teachers, or relatives. It doesn’t matter what you want to become good at, hiring a coach is supposed to increase efficiency! The thing is, most people teaching chess are to, “Authoritative” in their approach. The most important thing to the student is, not losing!! To say the most important thing is winning is just as naive!!

Today I needed to get some papers notarized. I didn’t feel like carrying my briefcase so I grabbed the August issue of Chess Life Kids and stuffed it in there. As I was closing the mag, I saw this:

Hats off to these kids and parents that are out there making it happen. There’s no reason for someone not to catch fire at this time in the worlds history! I’m predicting a continual increase in the number of chess players during the pandemic.

OK, Here is how coaching saves money, effort, and time!?! I went and checked the US Chess histories of all of the kids in the article. 8 of the 9 kids that got the correct answer are rated!! I think there should have been way more contestants than 9! So here is there stats and my, “Coaches evaluation;

Luger #1 on the 8 yr old list. His current rating is 1821. His record against 1600, 1700, and 1800 players is 9 wins out of 49 games. He has not achieved a category of any kind. With a 60% win ratio he has played 182 games. He has not really been tested yet! At this stage, he should have had that record against 1800, 1900, and 2000 players. Koganov is 12 and did not make his top 100 list because his rating is 1626 and your rating has to be 1795 to get on that list. He is a Category 3 player! The only way to get a category result without a perfect score is to play up! You must earn 5 category results to be awarded a category! He’s played 302 games. This kid has the heart of a lion. He’s played 89 games against players rated 1500 or more. He only won 17 games, but what impressed me was that he had 21 draws. Why is that impressive to a coach? It means he knows how to protect the point!! He was playing up and protected 38 out of those 89 games. Moss is 10 and he could not get on the age 10 list since his rating is 1222 and the minimum is 1548. Moss has not achieved any category results at all. In the last 12 months he has only played 28 games against players rated more than 1200 and was able to get 5 wins and 0 draws. He needs to be playing up! Petukhov is 8 and comes in at number 48 on the 8 yr old list! His rating is 1287! He has played just 74 games and this year he’s only lost 3 out of 17. He needs to be playing up all the time. Whether its study, coaching, natural ability or a combination, he and Koganov look like excellent potential students. Vellore is 9 years old with a rating of 1451. That places him at 88 on the 9 yr old list. He’s achieved a Category 4 putting him on the map as someone that will play up. 1451 for a 9 yr old is usually time to rejoice but in this case he was in the 1400’s when he was 8 and when he was 7!!. In Aug of 2018 he was number 13 for kids under 7 and in August of 2019 he was number 80!! It’s a shame that with his level of interest that he’s not getting the attention he deserves!! His winning percentage is just 43%. Someone has to begin to hold him accountable. He has played 715 career games and he’s 9. That’s just way too many. If someone doesn’t help him he’ll continue to stagnate and quit. Bass is 10 years old with a rating of 1282. He’s on fire! He has acheived this rating with just 39 tournament games! His record is 28-10 with no draws. The only thing to be said about this is great job!! Play up and start looking for that draw!
Su has career is just 5 games, De Melo a career of just 4 games, and Rutowski are not rated!

So there you have it;

24 events, 39 games, 1282

14 events, 74 games, 1287

91 events, 182 games, 1821

88 events, 244 games, 1222

83 events, 301 games, 1626

287 events, 715 games, 1451

By the way, of the 8 that are rated none of them have become Certified Coaches or Certified Tournament Directors

I’ll never stop saying it…today’s players get their ratings from the number of games they are playing, not the strength of their play. They win and lose when they are supposed to and seldom challenge themselves to play up!! That makes all of them beatable!!

So, what would I do!?! Well, I’d need to consult with the player and the parents but if the idea is to get more points with less money, time, and effort, this would cover all of them!

1.) They’ve got to get the challenge set right! Most parents and players of all ages are using prize categories as success markers. The 1st Category that has a rating requirement is Expert/Candidate Master. Counting down you also have Category 1, 2, 3, and 4, players. So with that in mind, the real prize for each event is earning bonus points and achieving a Category result!! A tournament must have at least 4 rounds to qualify as a Category event!!

2.) You must invest time in understanding the rating system! We are on a fluctuating 200% margin system of error that spans 400 points! I know, but let me explain. When 2 players rated 1200 sit down to play each other, they have a 100% chance of beating each other, not a 50% chance of beating each other! When a 1200 sits down to play a 1300 you would think then that the 1200’s chances go down to 75% and the 1300’s chances of winning go to 125%!? Wrong!?! The odds of the 1300 winning are not 5-3. That’s a static evaluation. This is the fluctuating/dynamic part of the evaluation. The 1200’s chances went down to 87.5% and the 1300’s only went up to 112.5%! That means the odds were 9-7!! If a 1200 was playing a 1400, now it’s 75% and 125% and the odds are 5-3. A 1200 playing a 1500 is 62.5% vs 137.5%. That makes the odds 11-5. The points from a draw earned while playing up can sometimes equal what you’d have earned for beating an equal player!! I scored a Category 1 result in an under 2200 section with a score of 1/2/2. 1 win, 2 draws, and 2 loses. At the time, my rating was 1880. My opponents were 2100, 2106, 2099, 2113, and 2199. Yes I beat the 2199. It was 5 time West Virginia Champion, John Roush!! After the tournament, my rating was 1910!

3.) These players range from the top 30% to the top 10% of all the rated players in the country!! When it comes to chess, you must understand that they are not children anymore!? Yes, they are immature, childish, inconsistent etc. but, there are ways to help them understand the difference between toy time and tool time in chess.

4.) At the pace they are playing and because they are kids, it’s likely that they are not thoroughly analyzing their games. When I say thorough, I mean set the board up, verify that the score is accurate, then replay the game noting where there could have been improvements. Now, write down the lines of what you thought could happen. Finally, put the game on an engine and see what it says. Don’t skip any games no matter how much you think you know what happened!!!

If driving, meals, hotels, and entry fees have to be paid, which player do you want to have? What would really be bad is if all of these kids already have a, “Coach”!! Let us save you some trips. Private, Custom, Coaching is just a phone call away!! Mike Callaham, 804-426-6058!!

Steak and Cake! You bring the Gravy and Icing!

Here’s the test.  Look at these 18 positions.  If you know what opening it is and who’s move it is, you don’t need to come to our Zoom course! 

If you can score a 90 or above, I’ll give you a free book of your choice!  Answers must be in by Friday no later than 5 pm!  No Cheating!! lol   Email your answer or post it in the comments section on faceboook! Here are the answers:

1.) 5 moves, the 4 knights, B 2.) 5 moves, Wilkebarr/Trexlar, W 3.) 8 moves, 4 knights gambit W 4.) 5 moves, Ruy Lopez, W 5.) 6 moves, The Spanish, W 6.) 7 moves,Queens Gambit Accepted, W 7.) 6 moves, Queens Gambit Smyslov, W 8.) 7 moves, Budapest Classical, B 9.) 6 moves, Budapest Center, B 10.) 6 moves, Albin Counter, B 11.) 7 moves, Nimzo/Bogo Indian, W 12.) 7 moves, Nimzo Indian, B 13.) 6 moves, Queen’s Indian, B 14.) 9 moves, Philidor Defense, W 15.) 9 moves, Philidor Defense, W 16.) 8 moves, Philidor in Reverse, W 17.) 8 moves,Sicilian, W 18.) 7 moves Queen’s Indian, W. Read ’em and weep rookies!! hope to see you in a class before it’s all over!