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No Excuses, No Compromises… And then 500 points in 4 months

Jeffrey Sweeney improved his game despite having limited time. Discover how he did it and the lessons he learned on the way.

Success Story | 3 min read
No Excuses, No Compromises… And then 500 points in 4 months

Jeffrey Sweeney, a 16-year-old from South Carolina, learned chess in early 2022.

“My coach Vincent Iorga, who runs the club the Knights of the Upstate, started teaching me. It was so much fun. We have a lot of good guys in our club who really helped me.”

“I didn’t do a lot of studying back then. It was just me playing games. It helped me get better for a while as I crossed 800 USCF (US Chess Federation rating). But then it had stopped working.”

As we’ve shared in our chess study plans, at the beginning of your journey, you need to play more. But after reaching a certain level, you need to study more.

Finding the time for chess in a packed schedule

For Jeffrey, chess was one of the activities he engaged in outside of school.

“I'm primarily a school student, but I also engage in other activities such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and playing the piano.”

In a packed schedule, most people would choose one of two common approaches.

Either make time an excuse and drop the game.
Or compromise on other activities to find time for chess.

Jeffrey chose the third option.

He didn’t make an excuse, nor did he compromise.
Instead, he committed to learning chess in his limited time

And to make the most efficient use of it, Jeffrey’s coach had his back.

The right coach

While some coaches find ChessMood as a threat to their coaching careers, the best of the best always share good resources to help their students improve faster. For them, the growth of their students comes first. That’s what the right coaches do.

“Vic (Vincent Iorga) shared ChessMood with me. He thought it would be a great way to get better.”

Jeffrey with coach Vincent Iorga
With his coach Vincent Iorga

The 3-step improvement formula

With limited time, it becomes even more important to focus on the most effective things to improve, which Jeffrey did.

Initially, he used to play a lot of games. Playing more wouldn’t be a good use of time.

Jeffrey had to add the two missing ingredients from the chess improvement formula that were stopping his growth.

The 3-step chess improvement formula
The chess improvement formula

“Earlier, I used to go to chess.com, play a game and hit analyze. The game review gives a number on how well I played. Done.”

“But after ChessMood, I've taken the time to fix my mistakes by actually analyzing my games to see what I can do better.”

The big change after joining ChessMood

“One of the biggest changes was I became more serious about chess. You have a lot of amazing courses and good videos. It gave me a lot to think about.”

In essence, Jeffrey found a resource for studying.

“My favorite course was ‘The Wolf of Chess Street’. You're not going to find a tactic in every game. But you're gonna have to trade pieces.”


The Wolf of Chess Street

“I never really thought how piece trading affects the game. But after watching the course, I discovered how to get an advantage with little trades.”

At the same time, keeping the right mindset helped him enjoy the full process rather than get stressed.

Staying detached while having goals

Goals motivate. But they can also tempt you into being result-focused. Jeffrey stayed detached, like many of our successful students.

“I just love the game. The goals are on the road. I'm not chasing them; I'm only enjoying the journey.”

And as it usually happens, the results follow when you stop obsessing over them.

Raising 536 USCF rating in 4 months

Jeffrey was rated 879 USCF when he joined ChessMood in June 2023.

In July, he became the co-champion in a tournament as the underdog, and raised around 200 points. He repeated the same feat in a tournament in August.

His brilliant run continued. By September end, he raised 536 rating points reaching a USCF rating of 1415!

Jeffrey's rating progress chart
His USCF rating chart

Jeffrey achieved chess success without compromising his other interests and without using limited time as an excuse. Can you do it too?

*** 

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Originally published Dec 24, 2023

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