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I am 27 years old and have been playing chess since December 2020. I won a semi-rapid (25+5) tournament under 1500 FQE (chess federation in Quebec) 6 months ago.

I took a break from November 2023 to February 25th, 2024. I was rated 1970 rapid on chess.com in November. Now I started playing and I lost like 150 Elo.

I spend so much time calculating moves, I am not as sharp in tactics and sometimes I just blunder a piece in one move. I am feeling quite discouraged.

Do you have some recommendations to come back to the old strength and even push to 2000–2100?

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During the epidemic I didn't play for 2-3 years. Before I stopped I had Lichess blitz rating around 2000, after I resumed my rating fell to 1600. Mostly due to missing simple 1 or 2 ply tactics.

To regain my old rating (and improve it) I needed roughly half a year. It's way easier to regain playing strength than to get it first time, since you already got it once and so have some clue what you need to do to get it back.

Tactical vision is like a muscle, that gets a bit weaker if not used. Just like muscle, you can get it back very quickly with some exercise. Just do a lot of tactics for few weeks and you will play better than even before. I think that taking longish breaks is even beneficial for improvement in long run.

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You really don't give us much to work with. What time limit are you playing at? Are these OTB or online? A technique recommended to avoid blunders OTB used to be to write the move down before making it, but this is now frowned upon. However, the principle is still a good one. Play with a rhythm that changes from calculating to checking. Online, move the mouse and hover for a few seconds before releasing it.

If you spend a long time on tactics but are not very good at them, perhaps you are playing the wrong openings. Consider how you you can force the opponent into playing your kind of game

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  • The tournament was OTB, my rapid rating is on chess.com (10+0). I am looking for an idea of how to get back to my old strength. I am playing the same opening, so tactically nothing has changed, it has always been my forte. Commented Mar 11 at 19:39
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    Then there is still not much to go on. I would ask, however, based on a personal experience, whether this is limited to chess or extends to other areas of your life? In my case a thyroid deficiency caused my ELO to drop drastically. This is a treatable medical condition. Otherwise you just have to get back on the horse! But do consider my suggestions. Can you imagine that they might help? Do you blunder only in time pressure?
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Mar 11 at 19:54
  • Describe your thought process 1. When it is your turn to move and 2. When it is your opponent's turn to move. At the rating 2000+ level you aspire to you should have a clearly established thought process for both situations that you apply rigorously. An exception might be if you are in extreme time trouble. As you improve or decline your list of steps may be amended. In my case I like to keep my processes typed up on a small card which helps to refresh my memory before every OTB game. Commented Mar 18 at 13:54

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