Chess Ratings in Utah, end of 2016

Here’s the UCER (Utah Chess Estimated Rating) listing for the end of 2016, although one or two unreported games may slightly change a few ratings within the next few days:

Terrell  (20 g-p)       1898
Grant (76 g-p)          1895
Jonathan (83 g-p)   1758
Ivan (19 g-p)             1695

Dick (16 g-p)       1634
Dennis (52 g-p)  1622
Steve (26 g-p)     1603
Doug (40 g-p)     1563

Alan (34 g-p)       1531
Bruce (15 g-p)     1497
Vinn (36 g-p)      1479
Greg (21 g-p)       1446

Mike (10 g-p)        1405
Jerry (16 g-p)        1396
Lawrence (1 g-p)  1300
Sally Jo (32 g-p)   1055

Ottie (8 g-p)       1028
Frank (4 g-p)     1003
Beverly (1 g-p)   1000
Robert (10 g-p)    983

All of the above twenty chess players got their ratings from playing in senior-citizen recreational centers in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. Eleven of them played at the Harman Senior Center in West Valley City; Fourteen played at the Sandy Senior Center.

The number of rated games played is shown by “g-p.” We can therefore expect that some of these players’ ratings may change a good deal in 2017. The calculating engine takes into account how many rated games a person has played and allows bigger changes when a player has played fewer games.

Probably the most dramatic change in UCER chess rating was the improvement of Bruce, of the Sandy Senior Center Chess Club. He had a rating of 1158 on October 18th, but it jumped up within a few weeks.

Bruce got a 2-1 score in November, including a win against Jonathan. He scored 5-1 in December, including a win over Dick (a highly ranked player in the two chess clubs). That gave him a respectable UCER chess rating of 1497 for the end of 2016. In other words, in two months his rating increased by 339 points. He even beat Grant, early in October, and in the hundreds of games played in these two chess clubs in 2016, very few players were able to beat both Jonathan and Grant.

In this chess rating list, all twenty players are seniors, a few of them playing in both Sandy and in West Valley City. Only two of the competitors are women.

How to Obtain a Higher Chess Rating

In a strictly mathematical sense, we have two general ways a chess player can improve his or her rating:

  1. Win more games when competing against lower-rated players
  2. Lose fewer games against higher-rated players

Jonathan improved his rating from 1731 (early October) to 1758 (end-of-year) by the first method: getting winning streaks against competitors in the middle and lower ranges of the UCER ratings. By the end of the year, however, he had a very poor record against Grant: In eleven games that they played with each other, Jonathan was able to get only one win and one draw; in fact, Grant’s nine wins against Jonathan helped him get the high rating he obtained in 2016.

Doug’s improvement from 1510 (late September) to 1563 (end-of-year) came by a combination of the two methods: He played moderately well against those ranked in the middle, with a score of 6-4, and he won a game against Dennis.

Origin of the UCER Chess Rating System

At around the end of the summer of 2016, calculations began to be made for members of the Harman Senior Center Chess Club. A few of them already had USCF ratings, which were used in the initial calculations.

As records were kept for most of the games played in September and October, other members of the chess club obtained provisional ratings. As a few players from Harman started playing at the Sandy Senior Center, ratings began to be established for more players, and the UCER system became established in those two chess clubs.

Calculations are done with the USCF rating page.



Improve Your Chess Rating in Utah

Last week, a new chess rating system was started in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, with nine players receiving ratings at the Harman Senior Center Chess Club in West Valley City. It is based upon calculations and levels similar to those used by the United States Chess Federation (USCF). The new system is called UCER, for Utah chess estimated rating.

Chess Ratings in the USA

This includes overall best chess players in the United States and also listings under the following categories:

  • Blitz ratings
  • Quick ratings
  • By age
  • Women and girls

Chess Lessons in Utah

If you now have a  weakness in a particular tactic, let’s say a knight fork, your specially individualized lessons will include attention to that chess tactic. Yet other training will not be neglected: The knight fork might be given special emphasis until you have attained a particular proficiency with it, but you will still receive other instructions in chess, giving you appropriate balance in your chess education.


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Learn Chess at Home in Utah

By the Salt Lake Valley chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb

Chess Lessons in Utah

I teach private chess lessons, mostly in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah and generally for only $25 per lesson (when I drive to a student’s home in the SLV; when I need to drive to a location outside the SLV I charge a bit more for the greater travel distance).

Face-to-face chess instruction from an experienced chess tutor—that’s the fastest way to learn the royal game and learn to win chess games. For more information, please call me at 801-590-9692. I live in Murray, Utah.

I play actively in two chess clubs in the Salt Lake Valley. Over the course of a few weeks in the fall of 2016, I played 22 games in those chess clubs, with a score of 19½-2½ (89%):

  • 1 loss
  • 3 draws
  • 18 wins

Three of those games were against two of the higher-rated players in those chess clubs, and I won all three of those games, although the top two rated players were not able to play against me during those weeks. (the rating system we use is called UCER.)

And yet the quality of chess lessons a student receives is not directly related only to the playing ability of the chess coach. Teaching ability in general—that plays a big role in how well the teacher can help the student, and I have confidence in my teaching ability.

The chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb sometimes teaches by example

The Utah chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb


Basic Chess Tactics

The following chess tactics are taken from 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations (by Fred Reinfeld), an old chess book:

  • Pin
  • Knight Fork
  • Double Attack
  • Discovered Attack
  • Overworked Piece
  • Removing the Guard
  • Clearance
  • Interference
  • Queening Combinations
  • Trapped Man
  • Zugzwang

(a partial list from the table of contents in this chess book)

AID (Attack Instead of Defend)

The use of one of the above tactics can make a major difference in winning a chess game, but I have an additional point that is not covered above:

I suggest a new name for an old concept in chess, although it may not be commonly recognized as a tactical theme: When one of your pieces is attacked, instead of simply retreating or defending it, attack one of your opponents pieces, usually a piece of greater value than your own attacked piece. I call this AID, for attack instead of defend. This is not always possible, of course, but we need to learn to watch for it.

Here’s a position from one of my recent games:

White can move Ne5, attacking and defending at the same time

White to move, from an informal chess-club game in Utah

In the above position, the black queen just moved to c6, attacking the white bishop at c4. What move would you make?

Using the concept of AID, we see that the white knight can move to e5. This does two things: It attacks the black queen and it defends the white-squared white bishop. In addition, it forces the black queen to give up its defense of the black knight on e4, which is attacked by the white queen.

Learning From a Chess Tutor in Utah

Of course you can learn ideas about chess tactics, like the above, simply from searching online, but you can probably progress much faster through private chess lessons. I tune my chess instruction for exactly what my student needs in a particular lesson, which you will not receive from online searching or from a chess book.

Please feel free to call me with any questions: 801-590-9692. By the way, the first lesson is a getting acquainted session, which is completely FREE. Get the free chess lesson first, then decide what you would like to do.



Chess tutor in Salt Lake area

[Jonathan Whitcomb] is available to teach raw beginners, advanced beginners, and others, up to a range of experienced intermediate tournament players. This chess coach has more than just academic knowledge in the royal game, with a broad range of chess experiences that include many tournaments and organized team-match play in California.

Private chess lessons in Utah

. . . the tutor [can give] the student opportunities to come up with his or her own ideas.

. . . Encourage the student to be creative, and when he or she comes up with a creative idea . . . but the idea is flawed, concentrate on helping the student to see how a different approach might be more practical.

Learn chess in Utah

Your chess instruction will be precisely arranged according to your individual needs, to most effectively help you improve in your chess-playing abilities.


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