Do you ever have problems trying to beat some opponents? No matter how hard you try, you always seem to have a minus score against them or end up on the losing side?
I have 4 players at my club who I am forever having problems with at my level (I'm talking about 1400-1500 levels) during my last year of playing on-and-off chess are.
The funny thing was that during my games with them, somehow I seem to falter or play terribly worse when facing these players. They're like Kryptonite to my Superman (see picture on right) and sometimes it seems like their very existence on earth was to annoy and beat me.
What is it that makes some opponents particularly difficult to overcome?
In all, it seems like I am psychologically beaten whenever I face these opponents over the board. This pattern is hard to explain but I notice that during my games with these players, I seem to fall into one of the 3 bad habits:
a. Underestimating my opponent's threats
This normally happens when I make moves but fail to see the nuances of the position including critical positions where exact calculation is of utmost importance. There's a reason why tough opponents are tough. They know how to exploit the weaknesses in your position and work to their advantage.
b. Losing patience, making hurried moves
Sometimes, our opponents tries to make moves that seems to do nothing but shuffling about, trying to lure you in and this is usually where I suffer. It is the result of trying to avoid 3 fold repetitions (hoping to win) that tends to backfire in my face.
c. Loss of consistency due to psychological factors
Be it time pressure or failing to overcome other psychological factors resulting in performance levels much less optimal than the norm. It is important to attempt to have a clear mind when facing tough opponents.
Unfortunately, overcoming these hurdles is easier said than done. Right now, the best way I can think of is to concentrate on the board, not on the opponent.
Oh, by the way I would like to clarify something, my last rapid ACF rating is 1450 according to decrap.txt (hmmm... decrap?). My recent Rapid tournament as Ryde Eastwood has ended with me scoring 5.5/9 (with a +5-3=1 score) which is a pretty decent result. My only losses were to Thomas Hartmann (1828), Arthur Hyunh (1889) and of course, my brother-in-law Steven Liu (1774). My only draw was with Joshua Christiansen (1691).
My classical rating still stands at 4g and no rating. I expect my classical/standard rating to be around 1200s-1400s at the moment, probably worse if I'm having a bad day at work. You won't believe the number of times where I walked into a mate in 1. Usually, I finish work at 7pm and my competition starts at 7.30pm and there is a distance of 20km(?) between my office and my chess club. Don't ask how I manage to jump into my car, make it through Sydney traffic, find parking space at the club (it's usually close to full) and rush in to play.