I am very curious as to how stronger players react to encountering weaker players in a tournament (say, more than 200 rating points below themselves).
Specific questions that come to mind:
- Is it typically an indication that you will have an easy win? Or do you worry that you will have a tough game nevertheless, and lose an opportunity for an easy win / rating, etc?
- Does the stage of the tournament make a difference in the above? E.g. encountering a lower rated player towards the end of a tournament may mean that they are particularly on form.
- What is your strategy to get the most out of these games? Do you vary your style (say, switch from calm to aggressive, or play safely for a sure win / draw, or do you just try to stay with your normal style)?
I'd be interested in answers regardless of your actual rating (it is the relative difference in rating which is important), although it would be useful to give an indication of the broad range that your rating occupies (say, e.g. 1700 to 1900, or 2200 to 2400).
Thanks for the answers so far, everyone. It's given a pretty good insight into the psychology of the situation, and I will accept one of the answers soon.
Just to clarify the question a bit, judging from the comment and some of the answers, it wasn't too clear. The intention was to find out what goes through the mind of a player when they are paired with someone who is considered weaker than them (with the example being a difference of > 200 rating points). Do they anticipate an easy win and relax, or feel stressed that they are encountering someone who's on fire, and will be playing their best against them? How does this affect their game plan, and specifically, what would they do (on the board) to ensure a good outcome (preferably a win?).
Most of the answers seem to be along the lines of "do not underestimate the opponent" and "play your usual game", with a bit of "experiment with different play styles", which does actually answer my question. Thanks to everyone for contributing.