Unrated/Low rated Chess players are the scariest to play against (FIDE 1285 – FIDE 1315)

I’m now practising how to play chess against less experienced players. There is a knack to this believe me and it’s something that often baffled me.

Several cases in point I have opened up ok, then pressed it a little too much thinking my opponent wouldn’t see the patterns to gain advantages and low and behold they do and I’m left down a pawn or main piece.

I now know why I get disadvantaged in this way and its not down to pressing too much, but more about understanding the psychology of the game. Lets take the martial arts for instance, if a person wore a yellow belt in a karate class, the expectation would be that they are not that experienced in self defence or being able to protect themselves, what a load of twaddle. As you know a belt does not show how good a person is at being able to defend themselves, they could be the meanest baddest street fighter that ever walk this earth, you just don’t know. So what’s that got to do with Chess psychology? Well it identifies to me that in the past I looked at the chess players grading like it was some kind of badge of honor that had to be adhered to i.e. a less experienced player should never beat a more experienced player, this couldn’t be further from the truth, just take a look at the young players beating the old guard, how is this explained, simply because the art of chess is not dictated by the experience/rating of a player, it is dictated by who on the day at that moment in time is willing to do this;

  • Do away with preconceptions
  • Open safely with no preconceived ideas about the opponent
  • Look at what is actually happening on the board and not any preconceived thoughts about the opponent
  • Really analyse the game in front of them and don’t slacken off due to preconceived thoughts about the opponent
  • Make moves based on what is actually occurring on the board and not any preconceived ideas about the opponent

Sounds simple right. If there is a doubt about it’s simplicity check out some of the outstanding performances from lower rated players versus higher rated players on youtube. It can and does happen time and time again so I’m running with it.

‘If you know your opponent then you can adjust your performance fairly easily’

‘If you don’t know your opponent, act like you don’t know your opponent, keep playing like you don’t know your opponent, become one with the moves they are making on the board no matter how basic their moves may seem, keep moves simple and last but not least remove all thoughts of fancy showy moves’  If you can resist the urge to try and blast the lower rated player off the board, you might just surprise yourself by gaining solid correct advantages throughout the game.

‘Never underestimate an opponent, always overstate their skills and play against the moves on the board and not what you think you should be doing to them as a person because of their rating’

How to play against the anomaly that is lower rated chess players. I set out my own game plan to equalise the imbalance when playing chess beginners, casual players and players that have been at the chess game for donkeys years and are simply not interested in the rating system (I call these players ‘Secret Chess Grandmasters’). I joined a chess site and got stuck into some really interesting games against my nemesis players who rated from 785 to 1209. I thought of the exercise like the programme ‘Back to the floor’ where the bosses of companies went undercover in their companies to find out what the issues were and then try to fix them.

My back to the floor chess exercise was really fruitful, solidifying the chess mantra and giving me a barrel of laughs when I hear a chess opponent say one or all of the following;

  • I’m not good
  • I’m out of practise
  • I haven’t played a chess game in years, last time i played was at school
  • I don’t do any training for chess
  • I don’t play chess online

Once I hear any of these types of comments, my ears shut, my eyes open and I focus on the game,’Never underestimating my opponent, always overstating their skills and playing against the moves on the board and not what I think I should be doing to them as a person because of their rating or comments’

The psychology of playing chess is far reaching, I suppose it is all part of the gamesmanship that surrounds any sport. A key finding is knowing that players wish to outsmart others even before they get on the board so having a defence against gamesmanship is crucial to my chess development.


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