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I am just asking if anyone here suffer a problem of always losing to a same opponent. This problem occurs to me so often against one particular player. Well, the story goes like this

When I first played chess, I met a chess player, let him be A. At first, my chess skills are lower than him and I always lose to him (this is normal). But then as my chess skill progresses, even if I can beat other players (let them be B), I still can't beat A.

So here's an absurd situation of A beating me, me beating B, B beating A.

I have to emphasize, this situation occurs every time. And by B, I mean every other club players, but not A. A is not a particularly good player, but somehow I just cannot manage to beat him.

The question I am asking is whether this is occurring to you all and how can I overcome it

Is this a psychological problem, as his opening repertoire is normal for me.

Thanks

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3  
This is the phenomenon of "the difficult opponent" and is not unusual at all. Here is an article about it that I just found on the web, don't know if it will help any. –  bof Aug 6 at 8:40
1  
The only difference between you and me is that ALL opponents defeat me! :-D –  Tony Ennis Aug 6 at 12:11
    
If it makes you feel any better, Efim Geller had a plus score against Fischer; I don't know if he was the only one, but certainly he was Fischer's difficult opponent. –  rcook Aug 16 at 14:46

4 Answers 4

We were all there, it is normal.

It is a psychological problem, but without 3+ sample games there is nothing I can do to help you. If you could edit your post with 3+ games that illustrate typical scenario, I could engage in solving your problem with greater effect.

Without the games the best I can advise you is :

  1. Know your opening -> ask here if you need help;
  2. know how to play your middlegame pawn structure ( isolated pawn / d4 vs c6 + e6 / sicilian formations... ) -> ask here if you need help;
  3. Make smart exchanges in the endgame -> ask here for help by posting the endgame position;

To cut it short, work on your technique and this problem will solve itself. As for psychological aspect of this problem, keep your nerves calm when you reach good / winning position, as that is the point when "mind tricks" will start to mess you up.

This is especially true when you reach winning position, the "victory rush" will loosen your sense of danger and you might miss opponent's saving tactics. Even if the game is still won for you, the psychological blow it will make will be devastating and will shake you so much that you might lose the game in the next move ( happened to me countless times ).

This is not the case when you play other opponents because your mind is calm, and you are able to control "victory rush" by carefully and objectively assessing the position. This is the place that you must work on hardest -> keep your emotions under control during the game and assess position objectively.

As soon as you feel fear that you will "f*ck it up" because he's lucky or destiny chose him to punish you for your chess sins, STOP PLAYING. Take 1 minute to breathe and calm down. This is the crucial moment in the game, so use that 1 minute to calm down -> no thinking, calculating, assessing lines, NO! Just breathe and calm down, that is all you need ( you can always spare a minute even in blitz games ). Tell yourself "I've got this!" and just aim not to lose the game. Your main goal is not to lose, so even if you draw the game in an overwhelmingly won position for you, it is still a success as you broke the losing streak. In your mind he will no longer appear as "SuperChessMan", but after not losing that game he will become simply yet another player. The moral boost you will feel in that moment will disperse all the previous psychological barriers and you should be able to engage him successfully in the next game.

Another thing that helped me was analysis of my own games against such opponents. You should always do this when you lose the game, always! Just turn on the engine and see its suggestions, that is enough for a start. You can always post your game here for help, we don't bite people's heads off! :)

For now, this is all the advice I can offer.

Good luck!

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+1 Also a practical approach, cool! By the way I am still working on that opening challenge, I am reaching a conclusion, so either this evening or later tonight I'll write it up for you. –  Phonon Aug 6 at 9:22
    
@Phonon: Thank you, I haven't forgot about that! I am saving money 4 a new computer ( this one will "die" soon ) and will try that ...Nd7 line. I am making headway with 3...Qd8 Scandinavian ( I wish I had Lowinger's book! ), and am trying to find a middlegame plan for the positions that arise from that line. As for other lines ( 3...Qe5+ with ...Qh5 and ...Qf5 ) they will have to wait until I get new hardware. Best regards! –  AlwaysLearningNewStuff Aug 19 at 19:07

I have had a similar issue. My gym professor, as strange as it may sound, is a good chess player, and we used to play a lot of games. I usually lost or drew, until at one moment I used a tactic to win just one game. From then my score on him has improved, and I have won a couple more times. The only thing to do is break a win once, and you will beat him always.

Hope it helps!

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Interesting! Yes I think to some extent we've all had similar experiences but probably under very different circumstances (school chess, club chess, tourneys, between friends etc).

Chess is a very dynamic game, in the sense that beating someone doesn't always mean you're necessarily better or understand the game better, it may very well be so. Of course this is because of the inherent nature of the game where making mistakes is so common and part of each game. Point being you may be 100 times better than someone but if you're the one making the last crucial mistake of the game you will lose.

As mentioned in some of the other replies, approaching the problem from a complete psychological angle is possible, but I have another suggestion for you, which is technical and stays chess-related.

If you say you've played so many times vs this person A, since the time you started learning the game, then you must surely be able to tell "how most of the time you end up losing to him". This is important because if say, you always out play him in the opening but end up failing at converting your advantage in the middle game due to silly cheapo tactics from your opponent, then you can tell yourself "ok in the middle-game I should double check the tactics vs this guy...".

Or alternatively, if most of the time you end up messing your openings, then you can forget known opening lines and just play solid-development style against him.

Finally if you know it's the endgames that cost you the games, then either try to finish him off before an endgame, or if you do reach one, again go for simple plans that work well (assuming you've reached the endgame with some advantage), i.e. cutting the king, simplifying the position with key exchanges, covering space with pawns,... the usual stuff.

Finally if you're saying that each time you lose to him in a completely different way that you've ever lost before, then again, same idea can be applied, you should always assume your opponent is the best player and will find your mistakes, this means you should never assume "ok I'll play this hoping he won't see the check or the fork...". In chess you don't hope, you plan things out and follow your strategy.

Long story short, I think you can overcome this rather strange nemesis of yours, by simply paying attention to "the ways" you lose to him/her. Get yourself some stats on the losses, and start working things out.

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+1 Technique polishing will always remedy such a problem... Well explained. –  AlwaysLearningNewStuff Aug 6 at 9:28

An article by IM Silman, interestingly explains this at the elite level (>2700 club) Check this out-

http://www.chess.com/article/view/the-difficult-opponent

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