5 Things You Think When Playing A Grandmaster

5 Things You Think When Playing A Grandmaster

pete
pete
May 4, 2015, 12:00 AM |
74 | Fun & Trivia

[UPDATE: You can play GM Anish Giri and support the Nepal earthquake recovery effort. Details here.]

My first game of online chess was against a grandmaster.

Decades ago, I had signed up for a now-defunct website, and logged in to play for my first time. Before I could even figure out how to start a game, I received a challenge to play from a name I didn’t recognize.

I clicked accept, and saw the GM title in front of my opponent’s name and a rating well north of 2400. I decided to give it my best shot even though I was horribly outmatched.

Of course, I lost that first game, and soon learned that I was no one special — the grandmaster had been sending challenges to all new members who were logging in.

But it was still fun to play a grandmaster, whether it was over the board or on a screen. And whether you're a recreational player, a serious student, or an aspiring pro, it's a significant moment to square off with a grandmaster in any game.

So what do chess players think when facing a grandmaster? Here are some common thoughts when playing against such a highly titled opponent. Let us know your own thoughts in the comments or on Facebook.

1. This is a great opportunity.

When facing a GM, it's always an opportunity — whether it's to learn a chess lesson, find out the weaknesses in your own game, or simply to battle wits against one of the best players in the world.

Chess.com members have several chances to play against the best. World Champion Magnus Carlsen recently hosted a simul on Chess.com, and current world number-four Hikaru Nakamura took on all comers in a marathon blitz session last month

You can also try your luck each Wednesday against a world-class bullet player by challenging IM Daniel Rensch during a Bullet Brawl.


2. The pressure is really on now.

Feeling the pressure when playing a GM is very common, but unless you’re a professional player, this stress is often misplaced.

When you’re about to play someone much better than yourself, you have a lot to gain from the experience, and little to lose.

3. I just hope I don’t embarrass myself.

Most players don’t expect to win against a grandmaster. If you’re an average player, you probably just want to reach a reasonably playable position and not lose too badly.

Ironically it is this cautious outlook that may cause you to play well below your strength and create a self-fulfilling disaster on the chessboard.

4. I am playing an unbeatable chess machine.

This one is just flat-out false.

If you’re playing a human grandmaster and not Stockfish, then your opponent is just that: a human. No matter how strong they are, human chess players make mistakes frequently.

As GM Daniel Naroditsky pointed out in his last article, you should not trust your opponent to be infallible in matters of tactics or strategy. Try to evaluate the position for yourself, to the best of your own abilities.

Magnus Carlsen is undoubtably the most technically accurate chess player who ever lived, but even he missed an elementary tactic on the grandest stage at the 2014 world championship.

Carlsen also dropped a game to a Chess.com member in his simul. Even the best aren’t perfect — at least not all the time.

5. It's fun just to play.

We should all agree on this one. No matter how serious a player you are, or how much money you make from chess, above everything else it is a game.

Games can be educational and sharpen your mind. They can be competitive and serious. But even encompassing all that, chess should still be fun most of all. 

Have you ever played a grandmaster? Let us know what you were thinking in the comments below.

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