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!!!