18. heinäkuuta 2017

The Art of the Blitz - Tip #3

Don't Admire Your Opponent
There is a phenomenon in all sport, and especially in chess, which I will call as the "aura-effect". It's when you have so much admiration for your opponent, that you don't notice their blunders, and you sometimes even allow them to magically win from a hopeless position.

You have to look no further than the last two World Chess Championships to find the aura effect taking its toll on some of the world's best players.

In 2016 Game 10 Carlsen - Karjakin, Karjakin was leading in the match, meaning a draw would be a great result for him. Yet, on two successive moves (moves 20 and 21), he missed something that the even chess commentators had spotted - a chance to force a draw. Most experts say this is due to "nerves" or other vague reasons. But for me the reason is clear: Karjakin did not truly believe that he deserved to win, and he admired Carlsen so much that he failed to notice his blunder.

In 2014 Game 6 Carlsen - Anand, Anand missed a tactic (move 26) that would have probably won him the game. Again, experts were eager to pin this down to his old age and all sorts of silly reasons. But to me, it's clear: Anand did not truly believe that he deserved to win, and he admired Carlsen so much that he failed to notice his blunder.

In my own chess, I observe the aura-effect playing a role in many of my games. Especially in games where the opponent is significantly higher or lower rated than me. I have a tendency to squander winning positions against high-rated opponents, and lower-rated players tend to overlook my blunders more than they would ordinarily.

I've had many experiences when I play a series of games with a lower-rated opponent whose style happens to be especially effective against me. I often win the first one or two games with a bit of help from my opponent... but eventually he wins one, and then his self-belief grows, and his chess play improves too, making it harder and harder to beat him. Essentially, he admired me at first (and lost like he expected to), but then he realized I was a pretty crappy player and started to beat me (like he believed he ought to).

  • Players play better when they believe they deserve to win. They're calmer, more precise, and spot blunders more easily.
  • Players play worse when they don't believe they deserve to win. They're more likely to let their opponent get away with blunders, and are more willing to make blunders themselves.
Simply being conscious of this psychological effect is a good starting point. It allows you to recognize what's happening and help you strengthen your resolve to overcome it.

My advice: 
  1. Don't admire your opponent.
  2. Play like you deserve to win.
Doing this will help you spot blunders more easily, and will help you stay calm enough to convert advantages into wins.

Tip #2 - Never Lose the Option to Win on Time
Tip #1 - The Best Move is Faster than the Fastest Move 

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