There is chess tournament nearing and I am one of the participants. I have been participating in it in the last few years. And once I was fooled by one of my opponents at the start of the game. He acted such as if he was a very bad player and asked me silly questions at the start of the game. And I got fooled and underestimated the opponent. We also played a practice match first and I won it easily (I guess he didn't play that match seriously). And finally in the real match, he won over me. He was not better than me. (Actually, after analyzing the game, I understood that I had done lot silly mistakes in the game probably because I underestimated him).

So finally, I liked that tactic of my opponent and I want to use it. So, I am in search of some things I can say to the opponent before the match due to which he will underestimate me.

  • 6
    Learn to win the right way. – Tony Ennis Sep 8 '15 at 22:43
  • 1
    This question is opinion-based. – limits Sep 8 '15 at 22:59
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    Switch the position of your knights and bishops when you setup the board. – Diisciiple Sep 14 '15 at 17:42
  • One may disapprove of this gamesmanship. But as long as psychology is a tag in chess (and there are 76 questions) I don't think one can dismiss it as being more "opinion-based" than any of the other 75. Moderators: come back with a legitimate reason to close this Q, please, or explicitly change the list of available grounds for closing. But don't give the impression that you are just reaching for an excuse to close the Q, just because you don't agree with the content. It risks bringing the moderation process into disrepute. Thanks – Laska May 6 '18 at 4:07

Approach you opponent and ask him if he is good. He'll probably respond by saying that he is okay or pretty good. Then tell him how once you played someone who was really good and how you lost in ten moves. Also, it is preferable if you pretend to be 8 years old or younger. As you set up the board, make sure to set the board wrong. Place the knight where the bishop should go, and of course the queen should be misplaced as well. He'll correct you and you will pretend you didn't know. The most important thing is during the game. Make sure you seem undecided. Hover your hand around a random pawn and pretend like your thinking. Then hover around another pawn and do the same. Forget to press the clock a couple times. Do a couple illegal moves. I once had a person do exactly this. He pretend to be a child and oblivious to the rules of chess and I just played really fast and careless and lost. I lost because I didn't take my opponent seriously. Things are not always what they seem, so always keep your eyes open and don't underestimate your opponent. I'm assuming that the tournament you speak of isn't an official uscf because you didn't know how strong your opponents are(rating).


Truth be told... Those are underhanded tactics that won't get you far, in fact they won't get you 2 steps ahead in chess let alone more than that. At higher levels people rarely even speak to each other until they play their matches(afterwards however they do meet up and speak normally).

One crucial mistake you did however, one you should avoid next time is never play a game before the tournament, warm up or otherwise. It gives away your pattern of thought, your opening knowledge (at least some of it) and overall exposes some of your tactics, and no one likes to be easily read like an open book in chess.

As for what you want to do... The only place I advise you should use psychology is in the actual chess game itself, nothing prior to that.

Usually when people play and become frustrated or under pressure, their bodies react in different ways... Some sweat, others scratch their heads, some keep ticking on the floor with their feet and the list goes on really. Your job is to be able to read those moments and use them to open up their defense (or break their offense). You should also play on the clock! Something many beginners miss at the start is the pressure of the clock!

The clock has the second most pressure on players after the moves done in the game... Every second passing adds to an invisible pressure that is already unpleasant! If you are able to make your opponent lose time that's the biggest advantage you'll get.

And last but not least... If you want to use some tactics to throw off your opponent, I highly recommend against talking in the tournament as you might get banned or lose the match if the opponent chooses to report you to the judges. So you should instead use facial expressions... While he's making a move (one you actually consider dangerous) you smile in a sarcastic way as if you think that move is bad etc... Same thing goes when you're the one making the move, sometimes the move is not perfect (it rarely is) but with the right influence exerted throughout the match your opponent might end up even getting hesitant about taking a free piece you just tried sacrificing.

But keep in mind, almost none of these will work on higher levels, especially the body language one as older and experienced players tend to have habits when playing, some move their bodies in different ways which you can interpret in an incorrect manner resulting in the loss of your match.

And of course! I highly recommend you instead focus on leveling your game instead of trying these tactics... In fact most of these will come by themselves when you gain enough experience, rarely do any of the players that use underhanded tactics advance into the high levels of chess (at least without abandoning those tactics)

I apologize if I have some mistakes in the text, I am quite sleepy... But I hope I helped a bit

  • "never play a game before the tournament, warm up or otherwise." - But it worked for the opponent... – D M May 14 '18 at 5:23

The "tactic" he used doesn't work on experienced players. You were easily fooled by some talk and an off-hand game. OK, it happens; learn from it and don't let it happen again. Experienced tournament players don't fall for that. As a general rule, for example, I never even look at my opponent's rating before the game, and I always assume my opponent is at least as good as I am, and quite probably better, or they wouldn't be playing against me in this tournament.

Chalk your mistake up to experience and remember not to be fooled by it again, and realize that if your opponent is inexperienced enough to fall for that kind of thing, you should probably be able to beat them anyway, simply by playing your best, so there's no purpose served in expending the energy.

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