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GM Blog: When Chess Meets Psychology

by Denes Boros


How do you keep a cool head when you face your long-time rival?


I learned at a young age that you have to stay calm, relaxed, and resilient when you face tough opposition. I also learned quickly that ”what if’s” just tense you up before important matches!


When players are around the same level, psychology plays an important role in these all-decisive games. Here is my story about how I coped with the psychological pressure of facing my childhood rival.                        


I remember when I played my first important game. It was against my childhood rival at the Junior Championship in Hungary. We had played a couple games before and those games ended up being emotional roller coasters. These games involved sacrifices and many hidden resources which often ended in draws. This time, I knew that this match was crucial, so I assured myself that I would push and try to outplay my opponent. The game continued as usual, but then I came up with an idea that only old Master’s played. My opponent paused and then continued with a creative, but sharp reply. The play by my rival was gutsy and brave. I started strategizing and then, after 10-15 minutes, I realized I could sacrifice both of my pieces leading to a decisive attack! I gathered my thoughts and after some energetic moves, I won my game against my childhood rival! This game helped me boost my confidence and established me as the early leader of the tournament.


It is important to keep a positive attitude for these crucial games, as in most cases, the more resilient player is going to win in the end That is why I won against my childhood rival at Junior Championship.