Originally posted by rooktakesqueen
i have a really bad habit of starting off really well, getting the upper hand (sometimes even taking the queen for a knight or bishop), and then throwing it all away. has anyone else ever done this? i feel more pressure on me in those situations because i'm expected to win
It's important to keep planning even after you are winning. Make sure your pieces are coordinated and centralized, just like you would before you won material. Solidify your position and don't embark on wild attacks if they give your opponent counterplay. Try for a risk-free victory.
Remember that trading pieces usually favors the side with extra material; use this fact to take good squares from the enemy, or force him to trade down to the endgame. In the endgame, try to trade pieces and not pawns, because some material-down endings can be drawn if there are no pawns to promote. Trading pieces reduces the number of defenders, making it easier to win pawns.
Always look a move ahead. Yes, I know that sounds simple, but it surprising how many players, myself included, forget to do this on occasion. Look at all your opponent's legal replies before
moving, especially bothersome checks or forceful captures. Remember, the opponent is eager to find some cheap shot that gets him back in the game.