Dries Buytaert

Elo 1600

In news that is sure to rock the world (or at least mildly interest a few chess enthusiasts), I'm excited to report that I reached an Elo rating of 1600 on chess.com!

For most people, "Elo 1600" doesn't mean much. I understand; it didn't mean much to me a few years ago. According to chess.com, this ranking places me in the top 2.5% of players worldwide. While that sounds impressive, it's important to remember that many users on chess.com don't stay active for long.

In the real world, outside of chess.com, an Elo 1600 rating probably means that I'm a decent intermediate player. I estimate I'm about 100-200 points away from being competitive in beginner-level chess tournaments. However, this is just an educated guess, as I've never played in an official competition.

The path from 1400 to 1500 took 18 months and was filled with ups, downs, and even moments of self-doubt. In contrast, the climb from 1500 to 1600 was much faster, taking me just a month.

I'm still working with my chess coach. I stuck with the opening repertoire we developed and I spent a lot of time on visualization training and solving puzzles. I feel my training acted like a "coiled spring" – it took time to build up my skills, but once I understood enough opening theory and chess principles, I improved quickly.

I'm sharing this milestone for two reasons. First, to continue documenting my chess journey. Second, to highlight this key lesson about learning: progress often comes in spurts. You might be stuck for months, then suddenly leap forward.

Memo to self: expect to face challenges and setbacks in the future, and remember that this is a normal part of the process. Staying positive can be easier said than done, as the emotional rollercoaster of progress and setbacks can be intense. However, this experience has reinforced the importance of consistent effort and persistence. Hard work will often pay off in the end. This has been true in college, business, other parts of life, and now in chess.

Next stop: Elo 1700.

— Dries Buytaert

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