Do you think you play differently when faced with such a challenge? And what do you think the best strategy is? I've just finished analyzing my own defeat to an FM and would value any help with the positional aspects of the game, but also would like to hear how you all approach playing stronger opponents.
IMO, you should continue to play as you normally would.
By not playing what you know, you will get into unfamiliar positions and lose quickly and without knowing why. At least using you own style, you can improve. Some suggest that you steer the game into a wild, tactical fight where even the master could err. Since the master has better tactical abilities, this seems like a losing strategy.
Regarding the game, (a bit hard to follow without an embedded pgn viewer) I would suggest that you recapture with the pawn after 13. Nxe6. This would cover the light squares in the center and the rook would already be actively placed. Although it's not suggested in this specific game, there are times where b6 would be effective as the bishop "stares into space".
This game and the others you have linked display that you have a firm grasp on chess concepts and will quickly become a 180. I also suggest the other readers to examine these games.
Here's a few general thoughts I can give:
I think it's best to try to forget about your opponent's rating as much as possible. Playing against a player that you think is strong is going to put you at a disadvantage because you'll be more likely to assume their moves are good or well-calculated and you won't notice their mistakes as easily.
In the game itself, I think your main problem was you played too passively. You never tried to challenge your opponent or fight for territory, you just let them advance and take control of the board. The only move where you made it passed the 4th rank was 18 ... Ne4, and you immediately retreat back on the next move. Looking at the analysis, you actually played pretty flawlessly right up until move 23, but your position by that point is very cramped and difficulty to play. I think you needed to organize a push either in the center (d4, e5) or push the kingside after you played f5. The way you played, your opponent wasn't likely to make a lot of mistakes that would let you have an advantage, and if it ever got to an endgame, those queenside pawns were going to cause you a lot of grief.
You're going to lose, so lose with style.
a) Come out swinging like a drunk fighting maniac against a professional boxer. Play some mental Kings Gambit or Budapest Gambit line. Go straight out of book and look for your strike and pray that (s)he blunders.
b) Play like Greece in the European football cup and get a 0-0 playing horrifically boring French Exchange swap all pieces and take them to a dead even draw.
I was once playing an opponent, online, who was about 200 points my better.
In my mind, it was impossible to beat him.
In my mind, I was convinced that there was nothing that I could spring on him that he wouldn't predict and prevent.
Halfway through that game, in the middle of my move, I had to take a phone call for a few minutes.
When I returned to my game, I immediately saw that he was basically hanging a piece and completely losing.
I wiped my eyes to make sure that I wasn't seeing things, and then proceeded to take his piece for a pawn.
It was so obvious. It was a 1200 puzzle. There was no trick about it. It was as simple as could be.
Yet, there I was, racking my brain as to how I could possibly conquer this "chess behemoth" just moments prior.
You see, when I returned to the board, I had forgotten the law that I had imposed on myself that stated, "No matter what you do, you will lose this game because your opponent is playing at a level that is 200 points your better."
Once I returned to the board and forgot whom it was that I was playing, all I saw was a simple problem in front of me.
Nothing more, nothing less.
All I asked was a simple question, "What is the best move for my position here?"
Cognitive Dissonance: When your belief of something is contrary to what your five senses/logical processes would normally tell you; and therefore, because of your belief, your senses and/ logical processes are incapacitated from detecting the factual truth and reality about something.
If you want to make sure that you're not defeating yourself when sitting down with a higher-rated player, MAKE SURE that you're taking plenty of time to picture each position as a 'to win' puzzle.
Also, make sure that you're sitting down and playing with a kind of confidence where you believe that you're truly playing the beginning of a game that you are destined to win, against someone that may as well be 200 points lesser than you.
At ever single move in the game, convince yourself and understand that your opponent has just made a sloppy move, and all you have to do is understand why, and punish them.
The capstone to my case is actually noted in the inverse.
I can't tell you how many times I've been playing someone lower rated, where I'm playing sloppy, where I'm not seeing the board good, where I can't find a good move to save my life, where I can see 5-6 different obvious and simple ways for my opponent to defeat my position, where I regret starting a game in a lackluster and dull state of affairs...
...but where my opponent can only see the losing move that would justify their respect/belief for my higher score...
...and then goes ahead and plays it.
As children we learned that "everyone poops".
As chess players we learn that "everyone blunders".
Just remember that 'EVERYONE BLUNDERS', and you'll do absolutely fine.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” -- Henry Ford.
Cheers Jones. I'm looking at tournament entries for the coming months . Would you guys suggest playing in the Open section or trying to win games / money in the minor sections (will be unrated for months!). I'm not bothered about prize money or trophies, am more motivated by getting better.
I'm a fan of J. Polgar and always play in the open to challenge myself. I would also suggest to only play one or two levels up. You must push yourself to improve, but it's difficult to learn when you don't know the mistake(s).
I have played masters and grandmasters several time in over the board open tournaments.
Play the board, not the player.
Avoid mainstream openings.
Take time to think.
You will probably lose anyway, so give it at least your best effort.
They will beat you in the endgame.
I don't know if, "Avoid mainstream openings" is good advice unless you already avoid mainstream openings. I like the guy that said, "Play what you know". You will never learn anything if you change your game based on someone's ratings. And the higher the rating the better it is to play what you know because then they will teach you how to play it better.
You can't post in the forums yet. Play some games!