How I crossed 3100 and got into the top ten on

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  • GM Gabuzyan Hovhannes GM Gabuzyan Hovhannes

How I crossed 3100 and got into the top ten on

How GM Gabuzyan reached his peak during the toughest period of his life and lessons you can apply to your chess career.

Improvement Hacks | 6 min read
How I crossed 3100 and got into the top ten on

In January 2024 I hit my highest online rating ever: 3,103 on This put me next to chess super grandmasters and in the top 10 on the website.

However, if you think it was a result of great preparation and a positive life - not at all. Surprisingly, it happened during one of the worst periods of my life.

The worst year in my life

2023 started very badly – I got divorced, had health issues, and some other significant troubles I can't even talk about yet. Life was going downhill, and despite my efforts to stay positive and tackle the problems, my challenges had a significant negative impact on me. It also greatly affected my online chess rating. In 2021, I reached my peak at 3,064, but in 2023, my rating dropped below 2,800.

Not surprising, right?

It's the expected outcome of a series of unfortunate events. Reflecting on it, I've come to a big conclusion: Don't play chess when you're emotionally overwhelmed; it just adds to the reasons for feeling down.

But then, one day, everything changed.

The day of the Revolution

Since I had lots of tough days last year, I was looking for a light in the darkness, and my friend suggested a book by Kamal Ravikant called, "Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It."

Long story short, it helped me a lot, and in my worst moments I tried to apply the ideas learned from the book. One day, after some meditation practice, I was in a great mood and a sudden question appeared in my thoughts, “Why not play chess?”

I sat down in front of the laptop, and in a few hours, I crossed 2900. The mood that day was fantastic and was multiplied after this successful session. I didn't analyze how that happened, I just enjoyed it all. I continued the routine for the next few days, any second I had the crazy feeling, "I want to play chess", I did so, and sometimes this even occurred during my working time in the ChessMood office. (I know my boss is reading this, so sorry.)

I grasped this fantastic idea from “The Surrender Experiment” article and it worked out perfectly.

Shortly, I crossed the 3,000 barrier again!

Don’t focus on numbers

Once I crossed 3,000 I closed the website and went to sleep with satisfaction thinking that I would now take a break. The next day I again had the mood to play, but there was a question, “What should I do? Look at the 3,000 number and admire it or follow the method that helped me get there and keep playing.” I am sure you know my decision, I kept playing but with the strict condition to play only in a good mood. 3,020 - 3,040 - 3,063 in a short while. I regained my absolute peak rating, and a sudden idea struck me, what about 3,100? Why not? I am so close. Then I calmed down and applied the advice that I always give to my students:

Don’t focus on the rating - focus on good chess. If you play well enough, the rating will chase your strength and go up.

I kept playing, winning, or losing games, and forgot about my rating. One day I found myself just a few points away from the dream, without even knowing what would happen next.

From Hero to Zero

After winning one of the games, I looked at the number, and it was 3,098!! The next game started, one win and that’s it! I had the position below, up the entire army against the lonely king - but a move away from checkmate, I flagged!!!!!!!

I couldn't believe that happened to me. I had my dream in my hands, and it just vanished. A crazy feeling of tilt took control of me, and I started ruining my dream. A few days later, after losing another game, I saw this number next to my name.

I lost about 100 points. I was about to give up and quit and never play chess again. However, as a professional chess player and a coach, I don’t have the right to give up easily. Instead, I decided to analyze and understand why this happened. Why did I go from Hero to Zero in just a few days? To figure out the reason for this failure I tried to look back and understand what I did specifically on the days when I played bad chess. Nothing really came to my mind until I remembered a conversation.

Most common mistake

My team member and friend said, "Stop playing chess today, you will lose it all." On questioning why, he said, "Look at your facial expression, you are completely not in the mood." Unfortunately, that day I ignored this advice and kept losing my rating. But looking back, that was an Eureka moment!

My mood! The reason that took me high to the sky was also the reason I dropped down. I played without my winning card! Without my superpower!!! Guess what happened next? I just used it again, and afterward climbed back to 3,072. Again being close to the goal.

It’s time to tell you about one of the most significant days in my chess career.

The decisive Saturday

Saturday, Jan 13, 2024, at 5 in the evening I started my private educational stream for ChessMood students, and around 6:45 I could go home to rest. However, while walking downstairs, the magical desire to play chess put me in front of my desk. I was so unbelievably confident. With a rating of 3,072, I had only 29 points left, and I said, “It’s time to cross 3,100.”

For 5 minutes, no one accepted my challenge as I was only looking for 3,000+ opponents. For one second Fabiano Caruana was online and, in a state of euphoria, I even challenged him. Luckily I didn’t get accepted :-)

After a few minutes, the match started with GM David Paravyan,  a 3,000+ GM who consistently plays online blitz games and is my long-time rival. We had different scores during several played matches, but this time with a score of 7.5 - 2.5, I had the following position as white.

My heart rate dramatically increased…
I saw the move that promised me the win.
What to play?

Black can’t take on h3 as the bishop on f3 would be hanging, and otherwise, a powerful h-passed pawn will be enough to win the game. My opponent resigned.

For a second, I forgot what was going on and was about to play the next game. However, looking at the bottom left part of the screen, I saw this beautiful - dream picture.

I screamed like the famous Lion that is shown before  Tom and Jerry cartoons.

 I scared everyone else in the building but it was worth it.


The journey is over, and I am now going to rest for a while. I have a message for every chess player, as this painful experience of losing 300 rating points and then gaining 350 opened my eyes.

Some people play chess just for fun, others play as a distraction from their daily routines and problems, and some are professionals.

However, my biggest advice, proven by the results of this journey:

Play chess when you are in a good mood and when you want it like nothing else.

It’s hard to think about my next goals. Maybe I should aim for 3,200? 😅😅😅😅

Mmm… I need some encouragement. If you think I should do it, put + in our forum, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Related articles    

The Surrender Experiment 

How I achieved 2900 on

How I crossed the plateau and reached 3000 on  

The risks of playing chess when you don’t want to 

Raise your rating by cutting the losses

The secret of lasting love for chess  

Gifts for you

If you’re not a ChessMood student yet, I have three gifts for you:

1. Opening Principles - The fundamentals and beyond in detail


2. GM Avetik's 10 best games

3. My 10 best games

You can watch all three courses for free, by creating a basic account here.
(Takes a few seconds)

Originally published Feb 06, 2024

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