Reviewing the 2015/16 Chess Season

Hello ChessJournal fans!

Its been a little over a week since version 1.0 of ChessJournal launched and I thought it would be a good time to give a demonstration of how I use ChessJournal to aid my thinking for my summer training (in the UK the chess season typically runs September to May). But first a bit of context…

I am an average club player.  I have hovered around the 1800 mark for the last five seasons and began the 2015/16 season graded at 1750. I play for Horfield Chess Club in Bristol in the  UK and was selected for board 6 (bottom board) of the Horfield B team who compete in Division 1 of the Bristol and District league.  My captains remit to me for the season:

Try not to lose too much“.

A quick look at the opposition showed I was likely to be the lowest graded player in most matches by 150-200 ELO points.  The final point to bear in mind was that my wife was heavily pregnant and we were expecting exactly half way through the season. Lets just say my mind wasn’t 100% on the chessboard…

Fast forward to May 2016 and I managed to play in 18 matches (I lost most of the second half of the season when my son arrived in February).  I had some cracking games against strong opponents and even managed to win a few.  Who could forget my heroic win on time to save the match against Yate Chess Club? No-one? Just me then…

Ok back to ChessJournal.  I have downloaded the app and input the 18 games for the 2015/16 season.  As I input each game it is refreshing to revisit games that I haven’t looked at for 9 months and I immediately start to spot patterns in my play.

Black performance in Division 1

I like to think I’m a good defender, especially with my favourite Owens defence (1..b6).  Turns out I’m not.

Last season I played Owens defence and scored almost 60% in Division 2.  Its just not working in Division 1.  Where last seasons opponents were confused, the higher calibre opposition saw straight through my ruse and battered me with black across the season.  A miserly 36% (admittedly from only 7 games) shows a poor return with the black pieces.

black review

Its not just my overall performance with black but the manner of the defeats.  On three occasions I was absolutely smashed in the early middle game, particularly when my opponent adopted an early knight e2 structure. The game below lasted 18 moves after an early Qg4, ouch!

dpk review

Tactics involving pins

Reviewing my season reveals that on at least three occasions I lost games due to tactics involving pinned pieces.  Ive had a suspicion of this weakness in the past but seeing it on the board with the engine running drives home that I really don’t spot this type of tactic.  I mentally note to look at this further. The game below shows how rook to B8 lost instantly to the rather lovely rook C6!

calverley review

Im scared to push with White

In a complete counter to my performance with black, I score a respectable 55% with the white pieces against strong opposition. However, a deep dive into my 11 games with white reveals that of my 4 draws, 3 of them I was in a winning position either on the board, on the clock or both. Although objectively two of the games were level, there was a lot of play left in the position and my opponents had very little time left.

domonic review

I appear to be overawed with the stronger opposition when I have them in a nasty spot.  My finding is validated from my wins with white where I have played some unsound but positive moves (see my bishop sac below) and been rewarded with the win.

dimond review

Finally a look at Trends shows that I have scored highly (1900) when drawing.  How many of those could have been full points rather than half?

trends review blog


Already I have identified three areas for me to focus on over the summer:

  • Review my black opening repertoire for Division 1;
  • Practice performing extra double checks for pinned pieces.  My structure is not always as solid as I would think!
  • Be more confident with white.  I am actually strong with white (averaging 1870 ELO) and could easily have scored even higher if I wasn’t intimidated by my opponents grade on the score sheet.

Thats it! At the conclusion of a tough season, full of mistakes, I’ve learnt a lot and I take some consolation when ChessJournal shows a grading performance of 1828 (78pts more than last year).

I hope this blog post gives you an indication of how ChessJournal can help you become a better chess player. Our goal has always been to provide an app that allows you to focus on your game and all of its nuances.  If I just address the three factors in this blog post I am confident that I will be a stronger player in Division 1 next season. Although I will definitely have to get more sleep…

Until next time!


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