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Best of CLO '11: #1- Choosing to Break 2200 by Matan Prilletensky Print E-mail
February 2, 2012
Matan250.jpgThe #1 article in Best of CLO 2011 is Choosing to Break 2200 by Matan Prilletensky. Judges praised Matan's rigorous approach to becoming a chess master and his lucid descriptions of his thought process.
For me, wanting to break 2200 was not enough. I had wanted it plenty for years. At the 2005 World Open, I came =1st u2300, gaining 50 rating points and taking home $1k. After rattling off four straight master scalps, I felt untouchable: A strong master disguised as expert. But the stubbornly honest rating system disagreed. Despite the powerful lies we tell ourselves, truth is stronger than fiction. Still, after crossing 2100 in late '07, I figured the next step couldn't be far off....

It was finally time to revise my thoughts about chess strength. Many of us are dishonest with ourselves when we examine our ratings. Of course we are underrated - unlucky against lower rated players, perhaps, or frequently having opponents stumble onto good moves. Nonsense! There seems to be some confusion about the rating system's purpose. It is not a measure of your ‘chess understanding', future potential, or anything like that. It is a quantitative reflection of your results in tournament chess.

Matan's other contributions to CLO include A Disney Chess Weekend: Matan on the K-12 Nationals, the #8 article in 2009 Best of CLO, "How to Score a Summer Upset" and "Learning From Your Losses."

Matan is a member of the US Chess League team the Manhattan Applesauce and is currently a graduate student at the Bank Street College of Education in New York.

He was also featured in a US Chess Scoop video from the National Chess Congress, where he talked about his "Breaking 2200" article.

The Judges Sound Off
Read more about the judges here.

Countless chess enthusiasts, from naive novices to experienced class champions, ask how to they can become a master.  For most, this is the ultimate goal, and yet only a few ever make it.

The author relates his own experiences and spills the beans on what it takes to crack 2200.  No doubt, different people will need to work harder than others.  This article offers a road map and shares useful advice, e.g. you "must compete for ideas with any opponent."  It is not enough to merely recognize tactics..  Several well annotated games give examples of the thought processes (and depth of analysis) required to become a master.  Perhaps most important, these games are not played by Grandmasters, but rather by a mere mortal fighting to reach 2200.—Michael Aigner

I really like this article because I believe it can appeal to and help a large base of people. The author's analysis is not based on ego. It comes across as human rather than mechanical. He offers good suggestions for people who are willing to work hard to achieve their goal. He shows that it is possible to reach a difficult goal. I have tremendous respect for those who set a difficult goal to better themselves and do whatever it takes to achieve it. This can inspire other players.—Rachel Lieberman

This ranked high on the honesty and thoughtfulness scale.  Prilleltensky was able to pinpoint his errors and be self-critical which is really hard.  I liked the logical approach to the article:  ID the problem, ID the solution, how to get from A to B.  The games shown were dynamic and helpful and I appreciated that he repeated a theme of getting all pieces into play.  This is a great teaching article, too--Jessica Era Prescott

It was very refreshing to see that the author didn't try to find excuses for his play but instead accepted his status and sought to improve it. That is a lesson that can help countless players improve. It is very easy for players to find reasons to blame their poor results on factors that they can't control, but that doesn't help them. That is so prevalent that we once had a prize for the best excuse for a lost game in a tournament. Mr. Prilleltensky's approach provides a method by which players can improve their results by focusing on what they can control. His resolution to “learn from every game I play...” is something that applies to every developing player. His conclusion that the real keys to improvement involve hard work and practice provides a valuable lesson that must be learned by any player seeking to improve. –Myron Lieberman

As a club level player, this kind of article is important to read. It reminds us that there is no magic pill for success. Hard work, and lots of it, are the only way to excel!—Erik Murrah

Best of CLO 2011 Countdown
#1- Choosing to Break 2200 by Matan Prilletensky
#2- US Chess School Comes to Los Angeles by Elizabeth Vicary (Judging article)
#3- Kostya Kavutskiy on Breaking 2366 by Kostya Kavutskiy
#4- Tale of a Winter Rating Spike by Jennifer Shahade (Judging article)
#5-Shankland on Making the Most of Luck by GM Sam Shankland (Judging article)
#6- Hilton on Chess Cosmopolitanism by Jonathan Hilton (Judging article)
#7- Dreams and Local Heroes by Chad Schneider (Judging article)
#8- An Amateur Invades the World Amateur Team by the US Chess Scoop (Judging article)
#9- Keep the Draw--Fix the Flaw by Tom Braunlich (Judging article)
#10- Nakamura in Brazil: From Fighting Anand to Miss USA by GM Ian Rogers  (Judging article)