How to beat a stronger opponent at chess?

Have you ever played an opponent who is 400 points higher rated than you are? If you’re playing chess regularly I bet you did. According to the statistics if player is 400 points higher rated he will win at about 95% of games. But do not get disappointed and read on. There is a pretty good chance that after reading this little article and following this basic guidelines YOU will be in that 5% who manage to draw or even win a game against much stronger party. So, why do these high rated players beat weaker ones? Well, they are well trained: high rated players know openings well, they have good chess vision, their tactics level is high and they know really well how to play and win theoretical endings.

Okay and how do I manage to win such a chess monster, you ask. Here are some guide lines you need to follow to be successful against stronger opponents:

  • First thing you need to learn is to calm down and not to be nervous. Do not be afraid of your opponent; even if he is 2200 rated and you are only 1300 you still have a chance ending up winning a game.  If you watch very strong players play they are always calm and concentrated during the game. While nervous, chess player cannot make best moves possible. Only full concentration and “turning off” from outside world to the world of chess allows you to play best possible moves.
  • Do not automatically exchange pieces. A lot of weaker players think that if they exchange a lot of pieces they will be able to make a draw in the endgame. This is a big misunderstanding! Of course if you trade all pieces and pawns you the game will be drawn. But stronger side would never allow it to happen. In that case, if weaker side would try to exchange pieces it would most likely to trade his active pieces for less active pieces of the stronger side. Advantage of strong side will increase and he would be almost guaranteed winning that game. Even if you exchange most of the pieces stronger players usually play very solid endgame, which will most likely guarantee them a game point.
  • Play the game against any opponent actively! Do not just sit there and wait playing passive defensive moves. If you do, stronger player will just activate all his pieces and launch deadly unstoppable attack. Remember, the best defense is offense or a counter attack. If the opponent launches the attack on your queen side, strike his king side (assuming he castled king side) with you pawn chain supported by pieces. Make it as difficult as possible for him to gain any advantage. Fight! Do not ever step back and let him control the game. If you like playing open positions make sure you open up more files and place heavy pieces (rooks, queen) on the open/semi open files. If you in fact feel more comfortable in positional play or in closed positions, you should try to avoid pawn exchanges. Make him play your game! DO NOT play his.
  • Remember, playing for a draw is a very bad strategy. If you do, you most likely will loose that game. To get a draw you need to play as actively as possible (see the recommendation above), it does not mean however that you should attack from the first move, sacrifice couple pawns and a piece and then figure out that your attack just isn’t going to work because he has a bishop you didn’t notice for some reason that protects mating square… This happens a lot in chess, even on master’s level. So, if you see the possibility of strong attack even if you have to give up some material for that, do it!  But, before you sacrifice it makes sense to think about the position and see if it actually going to work. Calculate 3 times before you sac a piece (C)! There was one game I played on a tournament, where I sacrificed two (!!) pieces and resign 3 moves after. Miscalculation in that kind of thing cost me a game and a whole tournament also. Deep calculations are very important when playing tactically.  Lasker once said, “It’s much better to loose a game your way than your opponent’s…”
  • The last suggestion is to play and to win!!!
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Updated 04.07.2023


Inspiring article .... looking forward to my next tournament
Robert McCorkle:
Please especially in a published article the word is "lose" not "loose". BTW I very much enjoyed the article. thanks.
Ahaa, its nice discussion on the topic of this piece of writing at this place at this web site, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.
sir it is superb if u dontmind please keep essential videos also
mihail gotierovsky:
You are absolutly right about challenging hight rated players say over 400 elo points. Calm...clever exchange...counter attack...trouble but happened to me both with white and black it is possible.....the most have to start to believe it is possible.p
Definitely.It will give you unexpected wins and draws! Good luck.
Good I must apply this and playing a strong game.
Chess is a straight up war games style board game. Everthing is a series of calculated moves and strategy. Each must evolve according to the opponents movements and strategies. Indeed, there is even a great deal of psychological warfare involved too, especially in a personal match. When dealing with an experianced player, one would do well to remember that a calm mind, that isn't afraid of changing strategies, is a mind that can find that decisive opening to take control. Odd moves are likely setups for traps, or feigns to provoke moves that would otherwise be foolish. In my case, they are designed to "herd" my opponent into making moves that I want them to make. Controlling the board is as much about which pieces are where and what your opponent has as well. Do well to remember that, just because you think you are winning, doesn't mean you are. The games isn't over until the king is mated
Well, that was one of the main goals of the article. ;-)
This will help all chess players to play confidently even against strong players
Hello, Helltank thanks for the comment. Your view about chess is aggressive, interesting and unique at the same time. However if the opponent is strong enough it is not always possible to attack and sac pieces. Sometimes you need to sit quietly, defend and wait for the right moment to attack. ;-)
The trick is to develop at lightspeed, then hit him the moment you see a weakness or the probability of a solid attack hitting him.He will be expecting you to bunker down, exchange to insanity and hope your king can be protected until you fight him to a draw or stalemate.He will not be expecting a swift attack to his heart, targeted directly for his heavy hitters(Queen), long rangers/hit and runners(bishop), protectors(Rook) or even his ultimata(King). This is very hard to do though. Personally, I simply go on a killing spree(also known as golden tempo) and just dismantle the defense through attrition. Then I ruthlessly attack the king, throwing piece after piece at it until the entire fort collapses and he resigns.Sometimes he tries to regroup and re-defend, but usually by then I'm on a rampage and nothing can stop me. If he tries counter attacking, I just press forward and force him to defend or risk getting checkmated.
b confident:
not bad
b confident:
its awesome 8)
Chess is a sport, so psychology play significant role. You need to learn to deal with it and concentrate on chess, you need to ignore these outside factors.
I was the stronger play in a tournament and was defeated by the odd mannerisms of the opponent. When he would move his pieces he would slap them down harshly in a vigorous manner making considerable noise. At the time I was unable to shake the way it distracted me and I lost knowing full well I was the better player. This could work in reverse by watching the opponents eyes to see what irritates him/her, such as throat clearing or any mannerisms that would put him/her off the game.
8) does it really work
well written article,i am sure this is going to help a lot of players.thank u for posting it! please write more about playing strategies if possible! :lol:
Thanks, friend, I appreciate the feedback. I'm sure you'll do better against stronger opposition next time! :-)
thank u. my rating on internet chess games is around 1600. i almost always lose to higher players when blitzing.i get fearful every time i meet 1800 and above.this makes me lose before i even move my first piece i will try these ideas.
nice post ! Thnx a lot !
thx for the info
succes 4 u.