Preparing for a game has become an important factor in today’s tournament practice. In times where the level of the average chess player has increased drastically, the pre-game preparation is considered a key step towards the desired outcome: the victory.
Of course, times have changed and nowadays this task is more difficult every day.
The main reason is the overflow of information; the internet has everything about everybody and everybody is using it.
However, some people still prepare for their games better than others so it is not a trivial thing and it does require some sort of imagination, skills, and a bit of luck.
The main objective of preparing your game is:
- Save time on the clock by playing quickly
- Avoid being caught in the unknown territory
- Know your opponent and use the information to make better decisions at the board
- Prepare a surprise if your opponent is a target
In this article, we’ll shed some light on what some valuable things to do in order to prepare for your next game are. Needless to say that this is just a guideline and every chess guru has their own method of doing things. Nevertheless, the following approach has worked for many players.
Step 1: Check his games on the default battle you expect to take place
Evaluate his knowledge and his skills in the resulting positions of that specific line. Weigh your chances in that battleground; if you feel like you have nothing to fear and your opponent plays always the same then this is where you need to go. It is probably a wise idea to be the first to deviate and try to put your adversary out of his book.
Step 2: Check what your opponent plays against his own openings
Quite a large number of players do not do this at all. Step 1 is their standard method and they don’t go any deeper than that. However, it is extremely useful to see if your opponent plays the same opening that you are intending to play against him.
Because it is a way to meter his knowledge and performance in that kind of positions with either color. If your opponent plays the Grunfeld and also likes to play against the Grunfeld, it is probably because he feels comfortable in the middle game positions arising from the opening and knows the plans and finesses.
Something to consider.
Step 3: If your opponent is the type of player who always plays the same, look for holes in his opening choices
If there aren’t any, try and find where you can present him with an old almost forgotten line where he might need to remember.
People who in these days always play the same have the benefit of knowing a lot about their openings, but the main drawback is that anyone can prepare easily against them and get what they want out of the opening.
Step 4: Know your opponent
This is one great advice; if you don’t know your opponent at all or you are not familiar with his games, it is totally worth it to spend 20 minutes going over his games.
Look for patterns; almost always there will be one. Once you are familiar with your opponent’s playing style, it will be very useful at the board. It will help you foresee his decisions.
Basically, your intuition on what he might play will be more precise.
Step 5: Find the problem
This approach was quite interesting, but I suspect it can only be done by very strong players. I once played against this GM who would only choose his opening based on what was most unpleasant for his opponent.
If your results were poor in the French Defense as white, he would choose to play it against you and so on. It takes certain skills to guess where a player is weakest, but it can be done if one looks with care into a player’s games.
With this, we finish our small guideline on how to prepare your games. Thank you for reading and feel free to share your comments with us.