These days Carlsen and Karjakin are playing for the World Championship and given the stakes plus number of games, each plays as cautious as possible; any mistake or risk too big could decide the match in one’s favour. The regular player has a different kind of challenge and opportunity when paired with a FIDE titled player. The opportunities are far more often today than years ago. The number of titled players has increased, there are more titles available and of course more tournaments.
When you are paired with a titled player the first thing coming into play is how to approach the game: are you going to be intimidated or you look forward to the challenge? It is easy to say “I look forward to it”. In reality human nature is to look up to it and be more or less intimidated. What you need for sure is confidence in yourself! It is critical to be confident in what you know or you won’t stand much of a chance anyway.
The following game is from a while back when I got an opportunity to play a FIDE Master, 2355 rated at the time. This was a big deal back then… You will see how my low level of confidence influenced my play and in the end was the main cause for losing the game on time.
What can we conclude at the end of it? Titled players are also human beings and could also be uninspired or have a bad day. They could also choose to experiment or even worst to underestimate you. The well known advice is “Play the board and not the opponent”, meaning you need to focus on the game and not be influenced by your opponent’s title and/ or rating no matter what they are. It is the only way you could do well, learn and improve. If you have any games and/ or positions you would like me to look at, please do not hesitate to let me know. I will gladly include them in my column for everyone’s benefit. Looking forward to your messages!
Valer Eugen Demian