David vs. Goliath - How Do You Slay a Giant?
(Artwork entitled "David and Goliath" by nDurlie - used with permission. Check her out on Deviant Art! Thanks nDurlie!!)
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I'm getting better every day, and see that the more improvement I make, the easier it is to play people my same rating. It is easier to understand what is going on with the moves, the mistakes I am making, the mistakes my opponent is making, so on and so forth...
But to be honest, I am still intimidated by playing someone who possesses a much higher rating than myself, and certainly - more often than not - when playing live chess or in person, I'll inevitably make that one blunder that sends the game into the all-to-familiar downward spiral towards a hasty resignation or embarassing, pathetic checkmate. Ultimately, I am OK with losing to someone who outclasses me in such a scenario when I'm trying my best.
However, in a correspondence game (online chess), I feel like the chance of being completely outplayed should be far less obvious against someone rated even several hundred points ahead of you. Blunders happen now & again, but in my opinion, if you aren't blundering, the game should be much closer... right??
Without getting biblical on everyone, let me qualify my remarks by defining what I mean by "...if you aren't blundering, the game should be much closer."
- You should not be check-mated early unless it is a fantastic multi-piece tactical attack - being slowly & eventually squeezed into it is a different story
- You should be able to keep the game to within 6 points of your opponent & reach some sort of an end-game
- You should not give up a piece without trading it for SOMETHING (an equal piece or some type of initiative/purpose behind it)
- You should be able to play without being overly surprised by your opponent's moves
If you can accomplish these targets, I think even upon defeat, it should be regarded as a successful game on your part.
Tell me if you agree or disagree to my "theory" on what it takes to perform well in this situation.
- Surviving the opening can be the hardest part - being smoked in unfamiliar territory would be a reasonable exception to performing satisfactorily
- Trading queens early is preferred & should even be an initiative for the outclassed player.
- Trading equally & smartly throughout the game is OK - & even to your advantage -if you are not destroying your own position.
- Play the most forcing line possible every move. If you have a move that FORCES them to make another move, you won't be surprised by them.
- Keep a goal in mind & be able to work towards it - whether or not it's the right one to win the game, you're able to try what you wanted to do.
- Reaching an end-game or a draw is absolutely outstanding if you are the outclassed player.
*NOTE: I think it should be OK to continue play even if you're behind until you see that they have a clear victory - don't just resign the second you get down a piece because you will not learn without playing high-calaber endgames & seeing how a great opponent finishes you off. If you are going to lose but are following my advice, I think proper etiquette would be to state to them that you want to continue play for a few moves to learn from their expertise, keeping in mind to always respect their time.
So... the point of this article is to generate a DISCUSSION! I need your input. Whether you are a Goliath reading this to poke fun at my meager chess brain (don't hold back!), or a David - like me - who thinks playing decent MOST OF THE TIME against a giant should be expected, I want to hear your thoughts about what it takes to put yourself in a position to win against someone who outclasses you.
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What other tips & tricks do you have? Advice??
Do you have a game that you'd like to share that meets these requirements?
What is the highest-ranked player that you managed to beat (how many points higher were they than you were at the time)? In case you were curious, my "best win" - or biggest giant slain - was against my good chess friend Evan when I beat him in one of our first round tournament games - I was ranked 1584 & he was ranked 1830 - a difference of 246 in rating. He went on to win the tournament & I ended up in 4th place. See it here!
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