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Quality preparation for a chess opponent

Quality preparation for your opponent today plays a vital role in being successful at the board.

Opening preparation has become a habit for any active player. That's why many chess players spend an impressive number of hours before the game trying to find an idea that will allow them to take their opponent away from his familiar "territory".

The sudden factor is extremely important. In such a situation the opponent may not find the best game plan. And even if he does, he will probably waste many minutes. Thus, you will have at least a temporary advantage. And by knowing the realizable position on the board, it will be easier for you than for your opponent to continue the game as soon as the well-known theory is over.

How should you prepare for the game?

First, search for your opponent's name on the lichess.org and chess.com databases on our website to get a list of games he or she has played in the past. You can also perform this search from a specific starting position. For example, you can see that he plays against 1.e4. But we suggest that you start with all games.

Now the hard part is what to do with all this information?

1. Sort your opponent's archived games by date

Look at the most "recent" games first. After all, it is very likely that your opponent's repertoire has changed over time. And you shouldn't worry about openings played long ago if they haven't been used at all recently.

2. See to the end of the middlegame

You may want to prepare the opening, but the middlegame will give you an idea of the type of player you will be facing. You will know whether he likes to attack and create complications out of nowhere or whether he prefers a more calm and positional game.

This will help you choose an opening. You will probably want to put your opponent in positions where he doesn't feel comfortable and your chances are higher. For example, if your opponent doesn't like to be attacked or has tactical weaknesses in games, you may want to try playing a more intense or difficult position.

3. Find his weakness at the opening.

If while analyzing your opponent's games you notice that he plays a particular line rather badly, it may be worth applying it.

There is a high probability that he will feel uncomfortable in the obtained positions. Or they just don't seem appropriate for his style. If it doesn't involve learning a huge amount of theory in a short amount of time, and you notice that your opponent always plays the same line, this might be a good option for you.

4. Check your games

It is reasonable to suppose that your opponent will go through the same process as you. You know your games well enough, but not all of your games will be available in the chess database. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to look at your games that are publicly available and try to guess what your opponent will choose based on those games.

This will also be useful if your opponent decides to surprise you at the board (for example, applying a line he has never played before). Remember what you have played before, and play a different line from the one your opponent has probably prepared.

5. Study your opponent well

Preparing for a game is not just about finding a suitable opening. Be sure to try to understand how your opponent plays and thinks. That's why after you've chosen an opening, it's recommended that you spend a few minutes watching full games. Try to find weaknesses and strengths, patterns in his game. This will help you at the board when you are guessing his next moves.

You can also try to make the game uncomfortable for your opponent. For example, if you notice his weakness in the endgame, try to push the game in that direction.

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