David vs. Goliath - How Do You Slay a Giant?

David vs. Goliath - How Do You Slay a Giant?

Oct 23, 2011, 8:18 AM |

(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.  Yell  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.

  1. Surviving the opening can be the hardest part - being smoked in unfamiliar territory would be a reasonable exception to performing satisfactorily
  2. Trading queens early is preferred & should even be an initiative for the outclassed player.
  3. Trading equally & smartly throughout the game is OK - & even to your advantage -if you are not destroying your own position. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!  Laughing  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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