The seconds tick down relentlessly toward zero just as your game approaches the critical stage. Your higher-rated opponent is putting your game under severe pressure, so extreme accuracy is needed to hang tough and avoid falling into a losing position. What do you do now – should you exchange pieces to relieve the pressure, lash out with a sacrifice, probe for weaknesses in the opponent’s camp, or maybe just give up and get a lesson on how to bring the point home?
The answer is… none of these! At such do-or-die moments, says Steve Hrop, the first thing to do is to sit on your hands and take a few deep breaths. In Defending Under Pressure: Managing Your Emotions at the Chessboard, the author uses critical moments from his own tournament games (most of them against players rated above 2200) to describe the difficulties of thinking straight when the enemy is at the gates, and then outlines methods and techniques to clear your head, evaluate the position, and find your way to the best move. Techniques include how to avoid redundant pieces that critically limit your mobility; when visualization is more important than calculation: and “freeze-framing” positions to eliminate blunders.
Save the draw – or turn a looming defeat into an astonishing victory – with the tips in this practical training manual!
About the Author
Steve Hrop is a psychologist with a Ph.D. in behavioral science. He has worked for more than 25 years as an executive coach and leadership consultant. Currently, he is the Chief Learning Officer for Asbury Automotive Group, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Atlanta. He was awarded the title of Candidate Master by the U.S. Chess Federation in 2002.