There are some unfair comments on the blogs from some mean spirited people about your loses to IM Mas in Maverick. What I want to say to you is this. Dont let them get you down and dont run away from the pressure of playing titled players.
Consider this. When Nichol David plays for Malaysia do you think she blanks her mind to the competition and wish for a win or do you think she looks hard at the competition. Do you think she studies their game, their strength and their weaknesses. Do you think she knows where her own strength and weaknesses are?
Do you think she evaluates her chances and then go for it?
This is the advice I give Mark. Study their games. Know this. If you are fighting a much stronger player and your odds are slim, then you must not choose a safe game. They are probably better than you all round. If you can find a weakness, maybe in opening then use it. If you cant and your odds are slim, then play a sharp game. You must put the fear of losing in them. If you play safe, they will find a way to beat you from sheer superior overall knowledge.
Sit down. Download the games of the opponents you fear. Look hard and find a way to get them. Sometimes better preparation down one particular line can yield better odds.
Let me also tell you about the advice I gave to another Junior in Maverick. He fought a more senior Junior and lost. The other Junior has vastly superior end game. What I told him was this. That Junior specialises in end games. If you try to beat him in end games it may work, but it may also take a long time. Instead try to beat him in middle game. Improve your tactics. Find lines that will not allow him to force you into an end game prematurely. This strategy worked for Mark in National Junior.
I have now asked Mark to begin looking at IM Jimmy's game. What is there to be afraid of? He is not going to punch you in the face or bring an extra queen to the game up his sleeve. Look hard and start thinking now how you can beat him under certain conditions. Try to create those conditions on the board and increase your odds.
You are less likely to win if you only hope. You must look hard and find the way. Dont be scared of pressure. It doesnt kill you.
I want to wish you all the very best in NAG and then on to National Close. I hope you will account for yourself well there and play like officers and gentlemen/gentlewomen. Now go and look at those games and find the game that will increase your odds. There is time to prepare still. Good luck.
ps: If you play it safe your odds are much lower; if you take the fight to him your odds will improve considerably.