How to save losing positions in chess?

1. COMPLICATE & CREATE ROOM FOR MISTAKES If you’re losing, and you and your opponent continue to make normal moves, you’ll eventually lose. Your only chance to save a losing game is if your opponent makes a mistake. So complicate the position. “Help” the opponent to go wrong.

2. AVOID EXCHANGES More pieces = more chance for the opponent to go wrong. It also means having the chance to use your pieces to target the opponent’s King. One exception: In losing endgames, trade pawns. Because many endgames are drawn once you remove the pawns.

3. MAKE ADJUSTMENTS When losing, some ‘normal rules’ don’t apply. Like you can’t fight for open lines, exploit weaknesses if it means trading more pieces. Instead, you often have to do the opposite and forget some common chess principles. Make those adjustments to your game.

4. TARGET THE KING If your attack succeeds, you win no matter the material count. If you expose the enemy King, your chances of making a draw by perpetual checks increase. Attacking could make the opponent nervous and cause them to blunder. So go after the King!

5. SACRIFICE FEARLESSLY If you had a 3m debt and it becomes 3.1m, would you feel much difference? Mostly not. Similarly, if you’re a Queen down, do you think twice about sacrificing a pawn? Not really, right? You have nothing to lose so you can sacrifice fearlessly.

6. MAKE YOUR PIECES HAPPY The happier our pieces, the more headache the opponent will have. Dealing with just 1 active piece is far easier than dealing with 5 active. And in which direction should we activate our pieces? Towards the opponent’s king!

7. MAKE PRACTICAL DECISIONS Look for the PRACTICAL best moves! They may/may not be the objective best but they’ll give your opponent all the chances to go wrong. And in SLP mode, it’s always good to encourage the opponent to make a mistake.

8. CREATE TRAPS Usually, playing for traps isn’t a good idea. But when lost, it’s an absolute must-have weapon. If you see a nice trap, and there is even a 10% chance the opponent can fall in, think about it. And if it doesn’t damage your position too much – just go for it!

9. STALEMATE Most stalemates happen in the endgames. But sometimes they can happen even in the middlegames. GM Robert Hovhannisyan has made a name for himself, saving lost positions with stalemates. Below is one. Robert makes a miracle happen: 1.g3! Qg3 2.Qh5!!

10. DIRTY TRICKS AND LAST CHANCES Put on your shameless masks! The tricks are dirty but ethical. Every top player uses them. Even though they don’t work always, saving 1-5% of lost positions with them can be worth a lot long-term. EXAMPLE 1…Qd3+??! 2.Kg2?? (2.Qxd3 wins) Qxh7.

11. PSYCHOLOGICAL DYNAMICS When losing, most get upset, giving the winning side a big psychological edge. Instead, a skilled defender of lost positions puts themselves in a mental state of joy and fun. This subtle shift makes a big difference to the quality of the moves.

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