Coping With Confident Opposition

My son Sam beat an opponent last Sunday who he’d previously found a bit scary. The boy has a very confident and outgoing demeanour whilst Sam is sensitive, introspective and easily put off his game. So to successfully face a kind of Nemesis was quite an achievement.

This episode rather reminded me of one of  my own early tournament encounters in which I resigned against a boy who exuded a confident air in an unclear position. Geoff Sage, a member of Southport Chess Club, watched the game and explained to me how my position was perfectly OK.

Had I overcome this problem of ‘believing’ confident opposition? Well I certainly thought so, and in 1993 I got my final Grandmaster norm. But then in my first tournament after qualifying the following incident happened. After 27.Qf6 Lev believed he was winning and I believed him. Yet after I resigned a spectator immediately pointed out my defence:

So what is to be done about this sort of intimidation? After being a double victim I don’t claim to have all the answers, though an awareness of this vulnerability can certainly help. And prior to resignation one should check that there really isn’t any hope whilst cultivating a general disrespect for confident airs.