In 2004 Mig Greengard posted the Recipe for Success in chess.
- Don’t lose. That sounds obvious, but it means not risking a loss, or playing what the Russians call “for two results,” win or draw only.
- Save energy to maximize advantages. Don’t tire yourself out playing for a win if you get an equal or even a better position with black. Take the draw asap so you are fresher when you have the white pieces. This combines the advantages of energy and the first move.
- Don’t press too hard. If you lose the advantage with white, offer a draw immediately. Again, maximize advantages. Don’t risk overpressing just because you have white. Be pragmatic. This is contrary to the old conventional wisdom – still followed by many players – that you need to press hard to win with white even if your opening advantage is gone.
- Play the position, never the player. Ignore factors like opponent’s tournament standing or rating, etc. These can interfere with your best judgment at the board, and it’s not pragmatic to waste time and energy considering them.
If this reminds you of Brad Gilbert’s classic primer on tennis strategy “Winning Ugly”, you are not the only one.