I lost last night's game to Nathaniel Garingo (2173) at the Reno CC November Swiss.
My friends, the bald facts do not fully detail the agony and the ecstasy...make that the ecstasy and the agony of it. Playing a guy rated 500 points higher (and with Black) I had him on the ropes, barely breathing, all those cliches, after 20 moves, but I couldn't find the moves to finish him off (and in the postmortem with several strong players it was amazing how difficult it was to find a decisive finish, if one existed; Black may have been only "much better"). So I overlooked something and he played an impressive counterattack and by move 31 it was over, I was mated.
I did all the right mental tricks as discussed here, had a good attitude and concentrated well for awhile, but I'll admit I was a little emotional after the game, frankly I was pissed off that I'd outplayed the guy to reach such a position and let him off the hook like this, the point is playing well for 20 moves means nothing in chess, it's just another loss, I could comfort myself by saying I played so many cool, awesome moves but that's a load of crap. I've got to become a finisher, a player who is as good or better at the end of the game, when it counts, as at the beginning.
Anyway, the great thing about this game is that it really laid bare my serious and deadly weakness, which is pure calculation-type positions. I'm playing good openings, good positional understanding, open lines weak squares blah blah etc. but that's not going to get me anywhere against the upper ranks. My study program has been made simple--I'm not spending a second in the immediate future on openings, chess psychology or any other miscellaneous, extraneous crap. I'm going to dedicate all my study time to becoming a tactical beast.
Nathan showed up my weakness and I've got to strive to get sharper tactically or I'm liable to blow a lot more "great positions" against the stronger players, and I've decided that is just to painful to allow to happen.
I'll post the game in a day or two when I have some time to really understand it.