Originally posted by morgski
I second Marinkatomb's assessment. I see similarities with our styles of play, namely wanting to pull off an exotic, forum-worthy combo and often overlooking more simple tactics. I think learning when to throw your punches is a key mile-stone in improving chess ability. By all means look for the exotic moves, but then (at least this works for me) see if t ur position at the same time. Once that becomes second nature, I think 1800 is a fair target.
Yes this is precisely the sort of thing i'm talking about. These days i'll happily trade off all the minor pieces against a lower rated player just to win a pawn. When i was 1500 i'd try and keep the pieces on the board and make the position complicated. 1800 is not really such a massive rating, if you can adjust your expectations slightly and be prepared to play out slow boring endings when it is required you'll break through the glass ceiling. I stagnated at 15/1600 for a couple of years until i started to appretiate the small advantages. A long sequence of exchanges that leads to a rook on the 7th rank for example, this sort of thing is often over looked by weaker players. I'd often turn this sort of idea down because it would lead to a long game or a slow ending. The difference between 1500 and 1800 is not so much tactical judgement (though 1800's are generally stronger, i think tactically you are easily 1800) it is the pragmatic decisions that are the main difference.. a concrete advantage, no matter how small, is worth playing for. It is often tempting to look at an opponents rating and say "i am a better player" or "he is much better than me", strong players look at the position and say "my rook is better" or "His bishop is strong, i should exchange it". Winning tactics come from good build up play, but winning endings also come from good build up play. An 1800+ will probably only deliver mate in 30% of their games, building a winning position is the key to the other 70% (i'm obviously talking about wins here...)
In a nutshell, i'd say you should trust yourself to judge the tactical side of things, when you are looking at moves look for ideas that restrict your opponent, or improve the position of your pieces in a more long term positional way. This is the side of the game that takes the longest to develop. Also, if you are prepared to do a little study, focus 100% on end game. I read the first three chapters of an ending book about 5 years ago and it's won me COUNTLESS games. A solid understanding of the opposition/triangulation/mined squares, etc.. will improve your rating by the hundred literally over night..