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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Know Your Opponent.

Pin It Grandmasters are very well informed about the strong opponents whom they meet frequently in top class events. Some players keep a special file for each opponent, and as far as they know the same practice is followed by other grandmasters. These files contain a summary of the characteristics of the player and advice to oneself on what points should be concentrated on in view of his strong and weak points.

A great deal of attention is devoted to the opponent's games. All of these have to be studied and conclusions drawn. These have to be studied and conclusions drawn. These conclusions are then added to the file. Then you can plan the openings and actual variations which you will adopt next time you meet. Previous games with a particular opponent are a guide to the next encounter and you try to work out what his attitude will be and what form he is in.

You make a not of how he behaves during a game and whether he has any weaknesses as a tournament player. Thus, for example, it is well known that Efim Geller and Mikhail Tal often lose a game early on in the event, but this only stirs up their fighting instincts and they play on with redoubled vigour. On the other hand, Laszlo Szabo reacts badly to losses and once he has lost his first game in a tournament his play goes down.

This knowledge of your opponent, not just as a player but also as a person, is very important How often have I heard from Botvinnik remarkably deep comments on his fellow grandmasters. Speaking of Korchnoi's wonderful tournament victories he once said, 'Korchnoi is a marvellous tournament fighter. He makes a be-line for the enemy, but at the same time he rarely fails to spot errors.' This phrase 'rarely faith to spot errors.' is a fine description of the accuracy which Korchnoi manages to combine with his fighting play.
Botvinnik remarked of Petrosian,'He has the rare gift of putting his pieces so that they always defend each other'. Of one tall grandmaster he said, 'He's very fond of long moves'. Once at a joint training session we were analysing a position in which White had bishops at d3 and b2 pointed menacingly at the balck king. The former world champion's comment was,'This is the sort of position where Kotov would finish him off quickly. But this was far from being the first time when he showed a surprising acquaintance with my play. 'Kotov has poorly developed sense of danger,' he said once.

We all study our opponent and try to work out which positions he likes and which ones he cannot stand. We also know the external signs which indicate that he does not like the look of his position, though these signs vary immensely. With some players their ears turn red, others start pulling their hair, others shake their feet about under the table. All this must be known, and taken into acount. In the tense struggle of a tournament game even the slightest trifle that helps you to know what the opponent is thinking is valuable.

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