From 891 to 1760: How Jameson took his USCF rating through the roof

By Leon Watson / On / In Case study

Greeny50000 is booked-to-the-teeth. He’s even got the badge for it.

And Greeny’s also got the Like a Bolt! badge for being fast – which is just as well considering how quickly he’s improving.

But now this Chessable member – real name Jameson Tang – has just achieved something even better than our badges – he’s achieved an incredible rise of nearly 1,000 points in the latest USCF over the board ratings.

He’s gone up from 891USCF to 1760 in nearly a year.

Jameson Tang USCF chart
Jameson Tang USCF chart

 

If you don’t believe it, here’s his USCF profile. And that’s not all, in online chess he’s 2146!

This came to our attention because Jameson casually mentioned on Twitter,  as you do, that he had mentioned Chessable in his EDTECH masters.

So we had to get in touch and find out more.

Here’s what Jameson had to say when we spoke to him:

Hi Jameson, tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m from Walnut, California, lived there my whole life. I am  21-years-old and doing a Bachelors in Economics with Quantitative Emphasis, pursuing a Master of Educational Technology at Boise State.

I am also a tournament director, aspiring chess coach and teacher.

Jameson at the board
Jameson at the board
Ok, your rise is full-on incredible. How did you do it?

I did it the brute force method, over summer break maybe a few years back I didn’t play any tournament chess. Instead, I played 30-minute games online for five hours a day for two months and did tactics for one hour per day. I didn’t notice but suddenly my online rating went from 1200 to 1700 over the two-month period…

At this time I was atrocious at long time controls because I would play it like blitz and make instant decisions that I would later regret.

How has Chessable helped?

I love the spaced repetition and the explanations it gives you after something is deemed wrong.

Currently, I use Chessable to work on the Benko repertoire, 700 tactics, and endings. I mainly focus on one chapter and repeat until I believe I understand the ideas.

It completely changed what I thought of myself as a player and I quickly noticed my favour for sharp positions and combative play as a result of Benko.

That’s interesting, did you consider yourself more of a positional player before Chessable then?

I was a d4 player, but I always played the Catalan because that was the only stuff showed to me, including King’s Indian and Queen’s Gambit. I recommend openings that suit your style and don’t just play things that people show you blindly.

If you asked me a few years ago, I would love to end a game by squeezing my opponent. But often, I get outplayed and got into positions where I am uncomfortable and could not really use my tactical knowledge.

Obviously using the brute force of playing in such a condensed time, there is not much time to focus on positional aspects (only playing and tactics).

Positional chess is something that I am trying to work on (need tips on how to work on that), plus I got lessons from John [Bartholomew] that still hit me today such as opposition and subsequent odd number of squares.

I learned these tidbits here and there, I consider positional chess as a growing club player (Class C to Class A) as very boring because often the games at our level are determined by tactics and I want to take advantage of that possible.

Have you had any bad experiences in chess?

At the North American Open in Las Vegas one December, it was my first tournament ever and I lost three games (0/3) because I played instantly and didn’t necessarily appreciate the time I was given. It was like training for a marathon by only doing sprints.

I subsequently got the flu (violent throw-up and other symptoms you can imagine) and quit tournament chess for four years.

I then became a founding member of the Chess Club at Boise State University and became part of a BSU group that went to our first ever tournament.

In this tournament, I got 3/4 and went from 891 USCF to like 1440 USCF. Before this, I was incredibly nervous because of my past experiences and afraid of what was going to happen to me.

Therefore, I had one hour of sleep because of my racing thoughts and played with no preparation. In my first game, I had a lost position against a 1400 and had the thoughts of “oh no, not this again” but somehow survived and won the game by my opponent blundering a rook in a rook and pawn ending.

I also had a lost position against a 1700+ in a King’s Indian (I had no idea what the plans are) and got into such a lost position the opponent didn’t know what to do and lost on a miraculous resource.

How many hours do you put in?

I try to study four hours a day, but on a good school week, typically 15 to 20 hours a week.

How have you done in tournaments?

Only played in four rounders so far, suffered three losses within a year, but either do really well or sub-par (4/4 or 2.5/4). My highest rated win was against a player rated 1937 in huge time pressure.

I believe in my career, as of late, I have survived way too many lost positions often because of time pressure that my opponent is in.

What’s your aim or ambition?

My ambition is to become a master, even IM one day. It is something I am willing to work for after school is done, I need the direction of course.

This is all very impressive, what’s your advice to other chess learners?

Love learning, enjoy the process and help others when you can. Also get some sleep (something I’ve been lacking).

What’s on Jameson’s book list?
  1. Chessexplained’s Benko Repertoire: A complete answer to 1.d4
  2. Improve Your Chess Tactics: 700 Practical Lessons & Exercises
  3. 100 Endgames You Must Know