Is it a good idea to change one's style of play when facing stronger opponents? If so, what would be the better approach:

  1. Play very solidly / dull (e.g. Exchange French / Caro-Kann as White), simplify, try to take the potential out of the position, hoping that the stronger player will not be content with a draw and will take too much risk and lose after pushing too hard for an advantage. If he does not fall for this, happily take the draw against a stronger opponent.

  2. Complicate the game, play sidelines, set the board on fire and hope that the opponent oversees something in the total chaos caused by you, allowing you to get the advantage.

Would this depend on the opponent (e.g. Style 1 against aggressive players and style 2 against positional players)? How to play when facing weaker opponents?

Or is it best to play as one would usually play, disregarding the rating difference?

  • 1
    For advice when playing stronger opponents, see this question: chess.stackexchange.com/q/28563/9025
    – Herb
    Dec 24, 2021 at 17:53
  • 2
    It makes a difference if the opponent is a little stronger/weaker or a lot stronger/weaker. If the opponent is just a little weaker, you may have to take chances to avoid a draw. If he's a lot weaker, just play solidly and wait for him to lose. Likewise, against a slightly stronger opponent, you can play solidly for a draw. Against a much stronger opponent, instead of playing solidly for the loss, your best bet is to go in for complications.
    – bof
    Dec 24, 2021 at 22:29
  • I just found this, might be helfpul: chessable.com/discussion/thread/542547/…
    – Hauptideal
    Jan 31, 2022 at 14:04

1 Answer 1


Playing for a wild attack, if it has no positional justification, is a pretty sure way to lose against a strong opponent. But you may not care. You chance of losing was already large; you have just made it larger. Your change of win was tiny, you have just made it not quite so tiny. Your chance of a draw was also small; you just made it a bit smaller. What really matters is your chance of getting satisfaction from the game.

Maybe the best attitude toward playing a strong opponent is to regard it as a learning opportunity. Play your normal game and be pleasant to your opponent. Perhaps they may agree to go through it with you after they win.

As for playing weak opponents, It is often a mistake to ask yourself what Morphy would have done, unless your normal style is to imitate Morphy, but give your oppent the chance to make positional errors. Avoid exchanges and keep the Pawns unbalanced. Dont go for the kill too early.

  • 1
    "Avoid exchanges and keep the Pawns unbalanced" - great advice. I used to have trouble with weaker opponents until I started doing this. Dec 25, 2021 at 15:05

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