I been playing bunch of tournaments where I have solely played against Class A. I keep losing or drawing against Class A players. I draw when I'm winning. Sometimes I don't understand A players moves in the middle game. I struggle understanding what plan a given position needs or what plan my opponent has in mind. Even if I figure out their plan, I play the wrong move to stop them. Sometimes I'm winning, but A players have really strong counter-play and I lose to their counter-play. My endgame is my strongest feature, but I usually get to a losing endgame. Any advice?
Silman's How to reassess your chess book is invaluable. Give it a thorough reading if you haven't yet.
My advice would be
- Replay your game with an engine. Find out the moves you did wrong.
- if most are tactical, then train yourself on that
- if most are positional, then find out what imbalances are there at your move. Read relevant chapter in the book (could be just the summary section) and see if you can find a better move.
There is no magic bullet to suddenly make you a better player.
Playing A-players is not (or rather should not) be any different than playing C-players in most cases. In general you should try to play the best moves no matter what the level of your opponent.
Do not worry about mysterious moves. When I watch C-players play they make mysterious moves. Usually mysterious moves are bad moves.
Two important things:
1) "I draw when I'm winning." That happens a lot to B (and lower) players. An A player, almost by definition, will win once he has the advantage. Get a teacher to teach you how to win your won games!
2) "I struggle understanding what plan a given position needs or what plan my opponent has in mind. Even if I figure out their plan, I play the wrong move to stop them." Learn to "read" and understand your opponent's plans. Once you've gotten to a point where you can explain them to your teacher, have him teach you the right countermoves. The second thing you must do to improve is to draw (or win) games that you have been losing.
You should just keep on playing, improving and learning from other people.
I'm playing a lot of chess lately, and I had problems in the beginning (and still have with better people). But somebody who was worse than me in the beginning is now as good as me. Just keep playing and take your time in your moves. What the other does, think of a good move and think: "If I do this, what can he do and how can I react?". It's the same against every opponent.
The only thing that makes it harder is because those 'A-level players' have learnt how to react to certain moves and to think a million moves ahead. That's chess. So I suggest, just keep on playing, maybe go on a chess club and learn from others. Practice online against a AI, and take back moves if you make a mistake, going through what you did and see how this could be prevented. If you know people who are really good, ask them to 'teach' you, but of course he/she can't help you win. Every opponent plays different and it's just up to you to think those million steps ahead. That's what helps you winning games.