Outside of the more psychological aspects of playing that I have talked about a bit recently I also continue to study and play.
I've been studying some endgame and feel like it showed up in a couple of games.
I also continue to do tactics when I feel like it. Sometimes I do problems from Reinfeld's 1001 Brilliant Checkmates. I also have Nunn's 1001 book that I work in sometimes. I also do chesstempo when I'm in the mood. All in all I feel that I am slowly getting better at tactics. I think in some ways the bigger challenge for me is to integrate the skills I am building into my games. I recently played a game where I was up a bishop as a result of a tactic I pulled of without noticing, so sort of an accidental tactic. Then, later on, I thought I was going to win his queen for a rook by using this cool tactic and I played to bring the tactic about. Turns out though that in the meantime a small detail of the pawns had changed from when I first came up with the idea and that gave him a brilliant out which not only saved him but won back the bishop and put me on the defensive. I think this may have been a bit of a result from tactics training. As in I was looking so hard for there to be a tactic that I convinced myself there was one even though there was an out for him. Still, at the end, under time pressure and pressure on the board against my king, I found a series of moves that led to me checkmating him though he could have escaped with the loss of a rook.
I feel like right now, playing is more important for me than practicing although I feel the tactics training is doing me good and don't want to give it up by any means.
I also have in mind to study the history of the game, starting with Greco and working up through Anderssen to Morphy then to Steinitz and so on. My idea is just to learn about the development of the game and hopefully to internalize some of the style of play from each master. It seems to me that this would be a really great way to learn chess is to see it through this story of its development. Still, I admit I don't often find much time for this, although I have started a King's Gambit game collection at chessgames.com and would like to find some time to play some KG games. I feel that this kind of thing would teach me a lot about attacking and sacrificing and stuff like that.
Also of course there is the inevitable openings study. Right now I am trying to learn more about the King's indian, as well as the open game as white and black. Then I've also been studying the advance and the King's Indian Attack against the French defense. Then there's other assorted stuff like white against the Caro-Kann and other little things.
Then today I was watching a couple of Dan Heisman's ICC videos about pawn play that got me in the mood to look at some of the books on this topic that I have.
So basically, it's one of those things where the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. Or at least the more you understand the work involved in learning this stuff. I have to be careful here too though because this can kind of drive me away if I let it. What happens is that in my excitement and curiosity I get interested in a bunch of different things and start insisting to myself that I should get to it all but of course then I can't really and I start to feel down on myself for only being able to do so little study, and then the feeling that I ought to be doing more becomes kind of depressing and I don't want to be involved with the game anymore. So, I have to remember that the most important thing is just to play and have fun. Of course study is fun too but the root of it is the enjoyment of the playing of the game and that's what has to come first, and I can certainly play very fun and exciting games without really any study, so the study I am able to do is certainly good enough even if I wish I could absorb it all instantaneously.
Anyway, I've had a small streak of success lately where I have gotten my ICC rating up to 1351 after winning four successive games against people rated higher than me. It's a very modest rating I realize but it's the highest one I've had there and I am happy. My FICS rating is still over 1500 though it briefly dipped back into the 1400's. So I feel that I am making progress and that's a big part of feeling happy with the hobby.