I'm quite happy as I finally broke 1400 ICC today!
I won against an opponent I have played several times. Right now we have an even score and I am rated higher than him by a few points. However, at one point we were close together at a lower rating, and then he seemed to kind of take off. I would notice his rating because he is one of the few people to also seek long games of 30 + increment at about the same time of day I am usually on. For awhile his seeks were excluding me, (not intentionally) by having a floor that was below his rating but above mine. He seemed to be doing quite well. He even made it to the 1500's for a while. So I was sort of doubly happy because it reaffirmed to me that I'm not stagnating at a low rating in two different ways.
Although my rating on FICS has been maintaining in the high 1500's I couldn't seem to break 1300 on ICC. Then I seemed to have a bit of a breakthrough there and I jumped about 100 points almost overnight and was maintaining in the high 1300's on ICC. Finally today though I broke the barrier. Albeit by only one point :)
So I feel happy today. At least for the time being the road seems open ahead.
Other than that, I've been spending most of my chess time playing. I got to play against a GM for the first time yesterday in a simul on ICC. Of course I got my butt kicked but I played ok for awhile. It was exciting at first, but in some ways it feels kind of pointless for someone rated around 1400 to play a GM. It's similar to playing against the Houdini engine at full strength. So I'm not sure how often I will be seeking to play in the simuls. I've been reading a bit in "Masters of the Chessboard" by Reti. But I haven't been doing much tactics or reading lately.
One fun thing I did was to make a database with my black games and a database with my white games in Chess Assistant. CA has this feature called a "tree" which is really cool and a very nice way to explore a database particularly focusing on the opening. The tree lets you follow the branches of every position (that is all the moves that have been played in that position in a given database) and at every step it can give you the win lose and draw statistics for each branch.
By separating the white and black games I can focus on how I am playing different positions. So I built the trees and I saw some things things that kind of surprised me. I play the Italian for instance, and I thought I had played Ng5 in response to the 2 knights defense on several occasions. Turns out only once. (Although there is one game that I remember well that I played at the club which isn't in the database.) It's just interesting to see things broken down. Again, I switched to the KID as black against d4 awhile back and in my mind I've played a bunch of those games, but really the total of that is still significantly smaller than the games where I played 1...d5. So, these aren't earthshaking revelations but it's interesting to be able to see the facts of the matter. I also was feeling a bit dissatisfied with the line I was playing against the Caro-Kann but in the tree I was able to see that really I had played some pretty silly moves on the two occasions I had adopted the line and so it really had more to do with what I was playing after getting into the line than the fact that the line wasn't suited to me or something. (Of course it could say something that I resorted to the silliness, but regardless I think it showed me I could give the line a better chance.) I think that kind of factual info can be quite useful in maintaining a proper perspective on stuff. So I have been having fun keeping these bases up to date and doing some exploring. Some other facts. I see 1. e4 much more often that 1. d4. I also see 1...e5 by far the most when I am white playing 1 e4. These are things I already had an accurate idea of but it was nice to see it confirmed.
I've had an ongoing series with a guy I met on the server. We have fun back and forth battles. I had the upper hand for a few games there, and now he's on a bit of streak. He has usually been ahead of me in rating but our score is pretty even. I would like to get back on top there. One thing is he plays the French and I'm struggling with it a bit there. But I also threw away one win where I was two pieces up and basically just turned my brain off and quickly he totally reversed the situation.
My openings continue to be a bit of a mess. I have some idea what I'm doing as white against most set ups by black. I still feel uncomfortable against the CK but I at least have a line there. (+2 -6 =1) I am changing my mind on the French. The last few times I've played the KIA but the guy I have the weekly game with plays the French and he got a pretty good position against it this last time and it wasn't obvious to me how to fix the problem. I played the advance variation for a bit and am thinking about going back to it. I just don't like how bottled up the queen-side gets.
As black, I'm still playing e5 but I kind of still feel mixed. I don't seem to get situations that I'm really happy with. I think it basically just bears some investigating. The tree shows I've been scoring ok with e5 though. I'm 50% vs both the Italian and the Spanish, and I'm %100 vs the scotch (5 games). So seems to be working reasonably well.
As far as lessons go I've let them drop for the time being. I guess I feel the second coach wasn't doing that much for me and I kind of wanted to see what I could accomplish on my own. I'm kind of mixed on the issue right now. I need to catch up on some debt right now, but I've thought about going back to the first coach I had. I think I liked him better than the my second coach. Of course I could try a different one or just keep on by myself for awhile but I'll just have to see when I get there.