How a patzer can raise his rating by 50 points in a week
Second, I have completely reprioritized my thinking. The first and foremost plan in my thought process is now: avoid one-move blunders (e.g., en prise blunders or missing one-move tactics like forks and pins). In sharp positions, when there is the possibility of a sequence of captures, or a tactic, I do my best to think through the possibilities to quiescence. I haven't been spending a lot of time looking for subtle or complicated tactics: when I do that I tend to miss the obvious pin or fork. When the position is quiet, when there aren't direct clashes between material, I don't spend a lot of time thinking. I make sure I'm not making a one-move blunder, and make a move after a relatively quick positional evaluation and make the best positional move I can find that is tactically justified. I save my thinking time for calculation during those sharp positions (just as Soltis and other GMs recommend).
A Knight once told me that simply avoiding one-move blunders will get you to 1400 at ICC. I think this may be an overstatement, but given a modicum of positional, opening, and endgame knowledge, I think it is true.
I haven't won all my games using this 'Just don't blunder'-centric thought process, but my losses haven't been embarassing. And just like I have learned 'book' tactics by starting with the simple, perhaps it is a good idea to focus my thought during games on the simplest of tactics. Eventually, perhaps, this will be second-nature and I can spend more time looking for the sexy combinations.
Tournament game tonight. I'm very nervous, as our team loses the round unless I win, in which case we tie.
Chess is 99% tactics!
Game update added later: I lost. It was a great game. He played the Berlin, which I had been studying for a couple of days in preparation. He had a tough mating threat and after a 10 minute think I found a great move, maybe the best move I have ever played in chess. It ended up pinning his queen to his King so I got his queen for a rook. Unfortunately, after that deep think my mind was fuzzy, I got lazy. I just wanted to simplify. But he smartly tried to complicate the position. Ultimately I made (yet another) one-move blunder and let him skewer my king to my queen, right next to my King, but I hadn't thought through that his rook was protected by his Bishop!!! So I traded back my queen for his rook. Then he just schooled me in the endgame, which technically should have been a draw. I don't swear much on my blog, but FUCK! I was kicking his ass and then I just blew it.
That said, the game once again proved the theory espoused in the post: if I avoid 1-move blunders I will win most of my games (against people U1400). When I lose, it is 9/10 times because I fail to avoid such blunders.