Ginger GM

The Vienna Open and how to Beat Stronger Players GM Danny Gormally

12 September 2016 | 0 Comments

Danny annotates some games from the recent Vienna Open where the Ginger GM himself played, and gives some useful practical tips for playing against stronger opponents.

The Vienna open is a tournament I always wanted to play but never got around to. By all accounts it’s one of the best tournaments in Europe. My good friends Keith Arkell and Simon Williams formed some of the British contingent this year. Apparently they were originally sharing a room, but Keith’s snoring and the fact that the accomodation was so far from the venue convinced Simon that he might as well shell out for his own room, so ended up changing hotels.

The big favourite was Markus Ragger. Last year he had an exhibition match against Mamedyarov and used this crucial experience to outclass the open field this time around, scoring 8/9. There were a lot of interesting moments. In the first round the experienced Vorobiov launched an impressive attack.

The equally experienced Burmakin also won in fine style:


What becomes clear from the Burmakin and Vorobiov games is that you really need to get a good position from the opening if you’re going to get a result. Clearly if you’re on the back foot against a higher-rated player you’re going to struggle. You need to hit the ground running. The following game was completely different. White did manage to get a very promising position after the opening. The problem was he failed to convert! Let’s look at exactly why this happened.


In my view White lost this game because he failed to sense the key moment. Good attacking play is also about understanding the key defensive resources available to your opponent and preventing them. White failed to do that and it cost him a game that he really should have won.

The following game was perhaps an even more tragic example. White quickly gained a winning position by playing straightforward moves, however at the crucial moment began to waver and let the win slip completely.

To sum up, what we can learn from these games is as follows:

  • A. In order to beat higher-rated opponents you really need to get a good position from the opening. If you are behind from the get-go, it’s clearly going to be a long day.
  • B. Once you have achieved that good position, it’s important to show accuracy in the pursuit of the advantage. Make sure you look for any clever defensive resources that your opponent might have. Remember, good players are tricky! We spend our professional careers tricking lower-rated players in bad positions.
  • C. Don’t overthink it. The last game was a good example. White should have taken the material that was on offer, but overthought it and it cost him the game. It’s amazing how many times I’m sat there with a bad position expecting to lose, only for my lower-rated opponent to overthink, worry about some hidden resource that isn’t there, and let me escape.


Meanwhile our good friend Simon Williams was looking considerably smoother in his round four game:

About the Author GM Danny Gormally

    GM Danny Gormally

Danny Gormally is a talented English Grandmaster. He lives in the bustling market town of Alnwick, somewhere near Scotland.

Danny’s first DVD for Ginger GM, Improve Your Practical Play was released in September 2013. His new book “A Year Inside the Chess World” is available now.