So, What Is Your Rating?
“So, what is your rating?”
It is the one question you will hear consistently, between new opponents, not only at tournaments but even in casual play. I have had many discussions about that question and whether or not it is even a meaningful one to ask and there are differences in opinion about it.
I have been thinking about the rating question and have mulled over writing a brief article on it. I have finally decided to put some of my thoughts down, along with some of the discussion I have had with others, to go over just that question. If you are interested then read on below.
First, I want to give you my view on the ratings question. I ask it of almost everyone that seems to play more than just off-hand games. Why do I do it? My primary rationale is to get a feel of my opponent’s general playing strength. You should always go into a game with the goal to play your best and knowing your opponent’s rating really doesn’t help you do that. In fact, it may even hinder it. Yet, I still feel that knowing how well matched you are with your opponent, or how strong you feel you are versus that rating, can also ease your mind.
I have spoken with a few people that think that knowing someone’s rating doesn’t really mean anything, especially if you are just playing casual games. I can empathize with that and even agree with many of the points that come up in the discussion. Ratings, especially in this area, may be a poor indicator of a player’s strength over-the-board. Three things that have come up in my discussions are rating inflation, deflation and/or stagnation.
In our area, the pool of rated players is pretty small. People have the tendency to play the same players in local tournaments consistently, giving little chance for ratings to stabilize. The lack of ratings diversity in the area also work to keep ratings in the same ranges, for many.
I don’t really want to give an exhaustive look at ratings, just wanted to present some of my thoughts and solicit some opinions. Ultimately, I think having a rating and knowing how your opponents have performed in the past is useful. Even if my rating is abysmally low. Again, even with or without this knowledge, we should always strive to play our best games, even if they are just casual.