10 December 2018

When plateauing is not a bad thing

After "The Phenomenon of Plateauing" appeared, over the past year I've reached and successfully maintained a new plateau in the low Class A range, around 100 Elo more than my previous decades-long plateau (see "The Long Journey to Class A").  It's true that maintaining a certain level of performance rather than progressing can be frustrating in the long term.  However, in the short term - in this case, a year - for me it's served as a validation of having consolidated the (modest) breakthrough in improvement since starting this blog.

Plateauing as a phenomenon should not be confused with lack of effort.  It's been a hard-fought year, with a number of examples of me gutting out draws after being objectively lost, or grinding away a win after achieving a small but significant advantage.  It's also featured some disappointing losses against both higher-rated and lower-rated opposition after I had major advantages but failed to convert them.

One of the things that keeps me positive about a future upward improvement trajectory, rather than believing I've reached my playing strength cap, is that I can readily see specific lessons to carry forward from each game, either at the time or after analysis.  Another positive sign is the ability to gain advantages against significantly higher-rated opponents at the Expert and Master level, rather than playing indifferently or simply imploding due to rating shock.

There remains a lot of work to be done - see "Training quote of the day #9" - but it's mostly pleasurable and I look forward to strategizing about the next year's worth of chess study.

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