The Surrender Experiment: How I Raised 100 Points in Three Months

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  • GM Avetik Grigoryan GM Avetik Grigoryan

The Surrender Experiment: How I Raised 100 Points in Three Months

What will happen to your rating, if you surrender to your Heart, Body, and Soul, and play chess only when they want to?

Improvement Hacks | 8 min read
The Surrender Experiment: How I Raised 100 Points in Three Months

At the beginning of 2023, my blitz rating on Lichess was 2,685, slightly below my average of around 2,700. 

It had always been between 2,650 and 2,750, I couldn’t break that 2,750 gateway. This range lasted for three years and I didn’t care much about it. 

Then, I made ONLY ONE CHANGE in my routine, after which my rating went up. Then up again. Then more… Then I crossed 2,800.

And I think this one change can help anyone quickly gain over 100 rating points up. Probably even more. 

I’m super serious!

If you copy what I did, and it doesn’t work, I owe you a red wine when we meet. But when it works, well, you need to take care of the bill.

My life wasn’t on the line

If there was a gun on my head, and it would shoot if I didn’t get to 2,800 on Lichess, here’s what my checklist would be. 

  1. Train   
  2. Keep the tactical vision in good shape 
  3. Warm up before sessions 
  4. Lots of practice 
  5. Analyze
  6. Repeat

In other words, focus on the most optimal way to improve your chess and implement the Study-Practice-Fix method.

 Chess improvement formula 

But as there wasn’t a gun on my head, I didn’t do any of them. 

I simply didn’t have time for all of that. I didn’t have any goals to cross 2,800 on Lichess, as I once had for crossing 2,900 on


I was too busy with ChessMood.
I was working six days a week, from early morning to late at night.

5 AM. That one is my seat 😊

I would play chess very rarely.
And whenever I played, I was usually in a “tired mode”.

This is a realization I had one evening after badly losing a few games in a row.

I would play either in the evenings after hard working days, when all my brain wanted was my soft bed, or I would play on Mondays (my day off), when all my brain wanted was to recover after the harsh 6 days of work.

An experiment

I decided to perform an experiment where there would be only one subject - me, and one simple rule. 

I would ONLY play if all of me - my Heart, Body, and Soul wanted to play chess. 

Even if I came fresh to the office, had my coffee, and sat in front of my screen to crush my tasks, and then suddenly all of those three would say “We want to play chess”, I would obey. 

Even if I was walking in the fresh air, and all of those three would want chess, I would quickly come back to my laptop and open Lichess. 

Even if I was in the middle of writing an article like this, and my Heart, Body, and Soul wanted to play chess, I would do that. 

I would surrender to them and would listen to them.

I called it the “Surrender Experiment.”

As you wish, guys

I had 2,699 on June 1, the day the experiment started. 

In the graph below you can see I didn’t play the 1st week.
My Heart, Body, and Soul didn’t want to. I obeyed.

I played some games between June 8 and June 17. Got to 2,721. 

And then…
For more than 40 days my Heart, Soul, and Body didn’t want to play chess... 

I did as they wished.

You don’t win only won games

The next time they raised their hands was July 31 😊

The 1st game was very funny. 

I had three pawns for a piece, but with my last move - 14.Bd3?? I was going to lose another piece.

I could resign and click the “new game” button. But for the author of the “SLP - Saving Lost Positions” course, that would be a crime. 

And as the main rule in lost positions is to complicate the game, even with the cost of losing more material, I went ahead and sacrificed the queen!

15. Bf5!

And then saved the lost game 😊 

My opponent got angry, and we didn’t play anymore.

Oh, those ChessMood openings!

I clicked “Create a game” and CM “sajnaypune” accepted the challenge.

I’m sure he/she hated me for my opening repertoire. He had no clue how to play against the ChessMood openings, he/she struggled in almost every game, got in lost positions from the start, and once even was mated on move 13! 😊

Full game here

Here are a few other games that you will enjoy if you play ChessMood openings. 

They don’t understand simple terms 

I was following my Golden Method and played 9 games.

Won seven games, lost two. But my Three - Heart, Body and Soul, still wanted to play.
I obeyed. Played one more. Won. 

And suddenly they said “Enough. We don’t want anymore.” 

Uh… They really don’t understand words like “momentum” or “confidence.”

But what could I do? I was the subject of the experiment and couldn’t interfere. So I closed Lichess with a new rating of 2,758.

Morphy would be proud  

The next time they screamed at me, “Let’s play chess” was about a month later. I was reading a book when they did.
I obeyed. Closed the book, ran to the 2nd floor, turned on the computer, and opened the Lichess.

I won three, lost four, and drew one.

But they still wanted to play chess.

I said “Okay.”

Won the next game. Then the 2nd. Then the 3rd… 4th, 5th in a row!

They said “More!”

I said “Okay.”

Morphy’s soul should have been inside me, as I accidentally played a very-very good game with many sacrifices and finished with a beautiful checkmate!

The full game is here.

Let’s do it! 

Chess is cool when you play like this! I felt great! 
But they suddenly said “Enough.” 

I confronted them, “C’mon, guys. Let’s play more! We play so well. We won six games in a row! Let’s cross 2,800. Let’s go! ”

“Nope, we don’t want any more”, was their reply. 

I had to follow the experiment.
I finished the session with 2,775, my highest-ever rating on Lichess. 

I didn’t play the next few days when I had the momentum… 

I couldn’t interfere in the experiment. 

The day! 

After a week, on Sep 4, I was on my motorbike. The weather was beautiful and the streets were empty. Suddenly those Three wanted to play chess.
If my motorbike could talk, it would swear at them.

I obeyed, made a U-turn, and went back to the office.
Okay, let’s play chess. 

With 8 wins and three losses, I got to 2,798. Just one win was needed to cross the 2,800.

God Bless my Three, this time they didn’t ask me to stop. They wanted to play!

The opponent got under my super weapon against the Sicilians and was lost on move 16.

The full game is here.

I got another +6 rating points, and with my math skills, I could calculate - 2798+6=2,804.

We did it! 

+105 points

Since the experiment's starting day, June 1 to Aug 27, I had raised +105 rating points. I played only four sessions consisting of 47 total games. 

(discounting the casual games I played with my student on specific topics during this period.)

The key was… I played all of those 47 games ONLY when my Heart, Body, and Soul wanted it!  

The experiment continues 

It has now been more than three months, since those three - my Heart, Soul, and Body didn’t want to play chess. 

I obeyed.

The experiment continues. I want to see how far it will take me.
Will it be 2,900?

Will I update this article? Or write a new one?
We’ll see 😊

BUT, and this is important, DON’T follow my advice here if you really want to get better at chess! 

Copy-paste, but smartly  

First, can you use this idea to go up 100 rating points? 

Of course, you can.
With all of them, my Heart, Body, and Soul, I believe you can!

Even more, I believe you can do better than me.  

I didn’t have time to train chess, do puzzles, keep my tactics and calculations in shape… And my experiment was about just PLAYING WHEN I WANTED TO VERY BADLY!

If you combine this with training, and doing all the necessary warm-ups that I shared in the “How to Stop Blunders: The Ultimate Grandmaster Guide” article or in the BlunderProof course, you can raise even more!

Should you start the experiment?   

If you want to improve your chess skills, no, you shouldn’t. 

You need to study, practice, and analyze your games.
You need to detach yourself from your results and focus on growth. 

That is how you get better at chess.  

If you don’t care about improvement and just want to see what your peak rating can be, or want to drink a glass of wine together, then yeah, you can start it 😊 

The #1 Takeaway 

Your rating isn’t the same as your skill level. How you do on any one day is your skill level for just that day.

Your rating is the average of your bad and good sessions. It’s the average of when you play stupidly bad and like a genius. 

This article is about how you can maximize your rating if you only play when you are most likely to have a good, inspired, day, and cut out all of those bad sessions, when your Heart, Body, and Soul didn’t want to play, but you did.  

When all of them scream at you saying, “We don’t want to play chess,” you should stop. 

And you need to learn to listen to them. 

For your fun chess journey,
GM Avetik 

A few more reads to maximize your results & have more fun 

Stop Playing Chess When Your Body Doesn't Want To
The Risks of Playing Chess When You Don't Want to
Don’t Bbreak Your Chess Back
Raise Your Rating by Cutting Your Losses

P. S. Feel free to share your thoughts and your results when you run a similar experiment, here.

Originally published Dec 12, 2023

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