We talk a lot about pattern recognition.
But what is a pattern actually?
Scientists estimate that an average grandmaster has about 50,000 patterns in his memory. Below you see a graphic of the KNSB, the Dutch chessfederation.
rating (hor) vs #members (vert) click to enlarge
The grandmaster (rating 2600) is the one with the highest rating.
The average rating is 1680.
I don't think it's unrealistic to assume that the average player has the half amount of patterns as the grandmaster i.c. 25,000 patterns.
The most average players have gathered their patterns unnoticed.
You can not say "this is me and there I have stored my patterns".
The two cannot be separated.
Your behaviour (in chess) has changed because of your stored patterns.
You ARE the patterns.
So why is one plateauing?
It is not plausible that your memory is "full".
You don't even know how you stored it and didn't notice when you stored it.
You have no "full" feeling.
How could it be full?
When plateauing the intake of new patterns is distorted.
If talent would put a limit on the mind then it would not be possible to start to grow again after 3 years of plateauing, as I did. (of course talent does put limits on the mind, but not in this specific example)
I see guys play a tournament every second weekend. Still they plateau.
So playing much chess isn't very helpful.
Study in the classical way isn't very helpful. I tried it myself.
When plateauing you work on a sort of automatic pilot.
You play the same sort of games over and over again, and you get no new patterns from them.
Analysing games of grandmasters should give you new patterns.
But here lies a numerical problem.
As average player you have to gather another 25,000 patterns to become a grandmaster.
This is difficult near impossible by analysing games alone.
Besides that, no one is used to go over a game 7 times to imprint them in the brains.
For every 100 ratingpoints you need to etch about 2,800 patterns in your brains.
400 points in 400 days means 168 points in 168 days, which is a MDLM period for romping around with 1,000 problems.
So these 1,000 problems contain 4,700 patterns.
I'm inclined to think that a pattern is a variation. A single line.
It becomes clear now why it is so difficult to improve and why there are so few grandmasters.
Most trainingmethods work in principle, but they just handle too few patterns.
If you want to improve, you have to be prepared to do an awful lot of work.
Work that is easier done when one is young and the synapses are flexible to be programmed.
But at older age it is not impossible at all.
So there still is hope for us!
Apply grain of salt to your needs.