I'm particularly interested in Joel S's, Kenji's, and others' views on 'true' expertness and the strata of ability that separate genuine 'top-five' players, perennial 1940-ish players, perennial 1880-ish players, and then those like myself who have just reached 1877 as a new career peak. For there are very distinct strata here, and as I think I have said before, I am only just good enough to recognize them, but not yet good enough to ascend them.
That's the truth, and I do not believe that my 10-10 result (gaining a few ratings points) in Premier really says anything much one way or the other about my ability. I had good luck and bad luck, and so did my opponents. In two of my wins, I benefited from a last-second error by my opponent, where the play I had made was itself a game-losing blunder.
It might be said I am especially well placed to look at these questions, since I won the "get into Premier" card by coming in 3rd in Div A the previous year. As it happens, I would have qualified anyway -- but that begs the question: with the absence of Kenji, Dave Koenig, Jere Mead, and a number of other top players, was this Premier degraded compared with prior years?
On the other hand, the bottom seed was Chris Cree, who is undoubtedly Premier material any day of the week.
Maybe the only conclusion is that the ratings list, in any given snapshot, has flaws and aberrations.
All that aside: I had a great time playing very tough players, and deeply appreciated the opportunity to do so. All 20 games, even the blow-outs, were hard-fought and interesting. Maybe players like Joel S (who lost to me by only a dozen or so despite my bingoing with both blanks) and Jason (who won comfortably despite mistakenly accepting my phony 4-to-make-5 hook) felt they were clearly competing against an 'inferior' player (inferior by several strata). I won't argue the point. I know what I know, and when I arrive at their level I'll be the first to assert it.
Next: some game positions; an example game where I play at a demonstrably un-Premier level; bingo lists and other stats; endgame blunders; some comments on the effect of the new wordlist; and more, I hope.