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Should you always play like a grandmaster no matter how (un)skilled your opponent is?

I thought of a situation where intentionally not playing to the best of your abilities is a good strategy.

Like, let's say you're playing against a chess noob.

You don't need to waste moves defending your army because your opponent probably won't even notice the hanging pieces.

You can checkmate your opponent faster by doing things that're usually considered bad strategies, such as moving your queen out too early in the game.

Additionally, I discovered in the mobile app that its "best move" hints change relative to the computer opponent's level.

Seems like you should play against newbies differently than how you play against grandmasters.

Is purposely "not trying your best" sometimes advantageous?

It seems to me the real question here is: You seem to have defined "playing your best" as playing the moves you would make against a grand master, and any other moves, even when played against other opponents, as being lesser.

But the rules of chess do not prohibit using your knowledge about your opponent to your advantage, and so I would argue that the 'best' way to play is the moves that are most likely to win .

So, when playing someone with less experience, changing your strategy accordingly is still "trying your best".

As for whether you should always play as if against a grand master, that depends on your goals.