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Chess.com winning and losing streaks

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  • What do you feel the alternative is?




  • If you flip a coin a lot of times, you get a random sequence of heads and tails. The outcomes are 50:50 in the long run, but if you show such random sequences to people, they look streaky to us. We're not good at judging randomness.

    There's a discussion of it here: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c08a/b58e5cdeaa040ac209ac6d66cd802d9c7492.pdf

    Then, there's actual variations in form. It's tricky to pick them apart.




  • Ficheall wrote: »
    What do you feel the alternative is?

    I would expect a general trend i.e. a gradual increase over time i.e. the more you play the better you get. But I can’t seem to get much further than 1100 and then I could drop back to 850.




  • I would expect a general trend i.e. a gradual increase over time i.e. the more you play the better you get. But I can’t seem to get much further than 1100 and then I could drop back to 850.
    Look over your games afterwards, with a little computer help. Any time the computer's opinion of the position changes by more than 1, there has been a mistake. Try to understand what the mistake was - a missed opportunity, a tactic, a weakening of the position. It's that kind of analysis that will give you a chance to improve. Playing a lot without analysing doesn't help you improve much.




  • Does this happen to anyone else where you go on a winning streak, climb the rankings and then tumble down again?

    It doesn't just happen online. I have had massive rating fluctuations over the years often losing up to 70 points in a tournament but as was mentioned things tend to level out eventually. Another thing that I have noticed is that immediately after periods where I've put some work in on my game my rating falls and the benefits of my labours don't show up until later.


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  • Same as with any sport there's an element of form to chess. This affects some players more than others. I hang around 2200 online usually, but can sink to under 2000. This isn't just a run of bad luck -- it happens during a period where my brain feels really dull.




  • Same as with any sport there's an element of form to chess. This affects some players more than others. I hang around 2200 online usually, but can sink to under 2000. This isn't just a run of bad luck -- it happens during a period where my brain feels really dull.
    Form matters greatly and can be affected by sleep (or lack of), diet,confidence, work and domestic pressures, health and numerous other factors such as how much you like the venue, the playing conditions, accommodation, etc etc. Also in some tournaments you can just get a load of opponents that you just don't enjoy playing against. Ratings are not the be all and end all when it comes to measuring the playing strength of a player. It is very easy to "build" and maintain a flattering rating if that is all that someone is bothered about but if anyone can be bothered doing that the only person they would be fooling is themselves




  • sodacat11 wrote: »
    It is very easy to "build" and maintain a flattering rating


    Really? How?




  • Really? How?

    Firstly carefully choose what tournaments you play in. Avoid opens and any tournaments where you might be among the top seeds . Employ symmetrical openings when playing against higher rated opponents and use exchange variations v French, Caro Kann etc and the quietest systems possible when White. It is relatively easy as white to draw with much higher rated players if you set out to do so and use the right openings. If you want to play 1d4 then stick to things like the Colle or the London system, you don't need to know much theory and you can play the same few ideas against practically anything.
    As Black use symmetrical defences , the Berlin and the Slav Triangle are tough nuts to crack.
    Last year my participation in the Irish Championship was in doubt because I was due a big rating drop so I played the Malahide tournament solely with the intention to harvest rating points. I played much more conservatively than I normally would and I went out of my way not to take risks. I finished the tournament unbeaten with draws against 2377, 2269, 2094, 1999 players and a win against a 1888 opponent. I gained a hat full of rating points and even won a grading prize but even if I was guaranteed to reach 2200 by always playing that way I wouldn't because I simply don't enjoy it. Having interesting games matters more than hoarding rating points to me but each to their own I guess.




  • Agreed you can pick tournaments: e.g. if you tend to score well against weaker players, choose events where you're the top seed. But you won't go far doing this, you won't learn to compete with tougher players.

    It's a myth that solid, safe openings will get results against stronger players. Weaker players are more likely to get results when stronger players go wrong in sharp positions. Read "Chess For Tigers"!

    When I look at players who are rated higher than me, I see players who are simply better at chess or players who are better competitively than me. It's a matter of perspective I guess.


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  • Agreed you can pick tournaments: e.g. if you tend to score well against weaker players, choose events where you're the top seed. But you won't go far doing this, you won't learn to compete with tougher players.

    It's a myth that solid, safe openings will get results against stronger players. Weaker players are more likely to get results when stronger players go wrong in sharp positions. Read "Chess For Tigers"!

    When I look at players who are rated higher than me, I see players who are simply better at chess or players who are better competitively than me. It's a matter of perspective I guess.
    By choosing your tournaments I meant try to choose the ones where you are mostly playing much higher rated players. Playing in tournaments where you are a top seed doesn't help your rating even if you score very well in them. Much easier to score 1.5 or 2/6 against high opposition than 5 or 5.5/6 against lower rated players.
    You are more likely to beat higher rated players if you throw the kitchen sink at them but again it isn't the percentage play. If you play solidly and safe you have less chance of winning but much more chance to draw and draws can often pay handsomely rating wise. A sharp player winning 2 and losing 8 against much higher opposition would probably not score as well as someone drawing five games yet it is as least as hard to win the two games as to draw the five.
    Your last point is debatable. Young players on the way up and older players who have dropped hugely from their peak rating can often be much better than their rating whereas someone who has remained at around the same rating for ever is probably exactly as it says on the box.





  • It's a myth that solid, safe openings will get results against stronger players. Weaker players are more likely to get results when stronger players go wrong in sharp positions. Read "Chess For Tigers"!.
    I was thinking about this. Stronger players almost always have better vision and tactical nous than weaker ones so IF Mr Webb is correct in his assertion one has to wonder why? I suppose everyone has the capacity to go wrong in sharp positions so maybe he is right. Also if someone blunders badly in a sharp position the damage is probably so fatal that the weaker player doesn't need good endgame technique to win the point. On the other hand sharp lines are very often structurally suspect and good players enjoy being boa constrictors against weakies in these positions. Probably too the stronger player will be theoretically better prepared in sharp lines because they are by definition more forcing and more dangerous.
    I think that the key against stronger players is to play with confidence and without fear, probably someone approaching the game with the attitude of "let's see how they like it up em" will play sharp lines and this fighting attitude is the reason they are successful NOT because of the sharp play per se. Someone playing a dull boring exchanging line could be theoretically well prepared and also be confident in what they are doing (positive leaning towards the negative, as Trump might say) and if so then I would still back them in the long run to gain more rating points against stronger players than the hacker.




  • I don't think you can make it that simple e.g. play a certain way against a player to get a result as no 2000, 2300 or 2700 player are the same. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and types of positions where they excel.

    In general tho if you are black and not feeling 100% you might be happy with a quick draw against a lower rated if its clear they have no intention on playing and want make the game as dull as possible whereas if its an interesting game you are more forced to play on.

    For me I would always be much happier playing a lower rated opponent in a sharp game vs a boring symmetrical position.




  • For me I would always be much happier playing a lower rated opponent in a sharp game vs a boring symmetrical position.

    That supports what I was saying rather than what Webb said in his book. I think that most people would agree with you because, quite apart from the result, sharp chess is just more fun.




  • Some players prefer sharp positions, some prefer quiet ones, it's a matter of taste. However you really limit yourself if you only play one way. If you always aim for sharp positions, your opponent can keep things quiet, and vice versa. Karpov favoured quiet, logical games, but if drawn into a scrap he was well able to handle that too.

    I've always followed Webb's advice and it's worked for me. My results against much stronger players have come from playing sharply, but of course that is what I do against them so that is what gives me results :). I grind against weaker players, and even as Black in quiet openings, I've rarely conceded a draw to a weaker player through lack of chances. If you keep playing, things usually get interesting. Look at what Carlsen does in seemingly dead positions.


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