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.


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: