Overcoming Difficult Opponents
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Overcoming Difficult Opponents

GM Illingworth

I feel a bit tired now after talking virtually nonstop for 12 hours today, but that didn't stop me from winning two blitz games tonight against an anonymous GM who only a few weeks ago was one of my most difficult opponents on the Chess.com server.

As a casual and fairly infrequent blitz player these days, I'm not as excited about this as I would have been in the past, but there are some lessons in the game below, which may help other players to overcome their most difficult opponents.

To reiterate my tips for dealing with difficult opponents:

Tip 1: Play a different opening or variation to what you did in your previous games with that opponent.

Tip 2: If your opponent's play is very effective against your style, change your style for that game!

Tip 3: Against a difficult opponent, don't try to punish their first inaccuracy or unfamiliar move -just play normally and focus on getting a healthy position to start the game.

Tip 4: If you have a bad score against a player, don't try to bamboozle them in complications - play simple, solid chess to make it very hard for them to beat you. Then their good score may even work against them, as they may try too hard to beat you and damage their own position for it.

Tip 5: Meditate before a game against a difficult opponent, so that you keep a clear head during the game and don't let past negative experiences affect your decision making.

Tip 6: Don't get overexcited when in a winning position! Keep focusing on finding the best move you can in the time, whatever the situation.

Who was your most difficult opponent, and how did you learn how to beat them? Comment below, let me know!