Have I got a treat for you! Only one week since the World Open in Philadelphia, I’ve obtained an exclusive interview with newly titled Grandmaster Joshua Friedel, formerly of New Hampshire and now living in California to pursue Caissa’s rewards. The focus was on how to handle setbacks, both during and after they occur.

Enjoy this very candid peek inside a GM’s mind:

Thanks for agreeing to share your thoughts about the all too familiar subject (for most of us) of poor tournament results. In the recent World Open, you had a rocky start with a draw against an opponent rated almost 300 points below you, followed by a loss where the difference was slightly greater.

The 2nd game garnered the Monroi fan favorite “heart” for your opponent and was splashed on their News page as it was this young 11 year-old’s first win against a GM. Was it strange being on the other side of such an upset when not so long ago it was you who was the scalper? Feel free to say something too about the position at move 29. You were up a pawn and presumably something like …Qe6 would have kept the advantage.

Well, it certainly wasn’t pleasant. I already knew my play was shaky when I failed to win a killing position my first game, but I had no clue it was that bad yet. It turns out that after Rd1 it isn’t so easy to keep my advantage, though I’m certainly not worse. Of course it’s irrelevant, as had I seen Rxd4 worked there I wouldn’t have played my last few moves probably, as Re6 was my planned “antidote” defending my queen. It was an especially odd blunder for me, as I didn’t underestimate my opponent’s play, and in fact took the past several moves to prevent it! I remember being the scalper was always a good feeling, though if I won on a one-move blunder, it certainly dulled the elation a bit. Anyway, that’s a part of chess. Sometimes you accept gifts, and sometimes you give them.

In general, in Opens, is it harder or easier to play people rated much lower?

Playing people far lower-rated is never fun. It rarely helps improve your form, and in fact often makes it worse, as you can get away with a lot more poor thinking. However, I often like playing a warm-up round or two before I start facing stronger opposition. It’s all irrelevant though, of course. Beating lower-rated players is part of the game, and you just have to learn to do it.

Here is the full interview.

Special thanks to Erin Dame for sharing it with us.

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