Ave Opponent Rating vs Performance Rating
Since November, 2015 I've been tracking my performance rating in tournaments vs my average opponent rating. My hypothesis was that I generally had better performances when I was the underdog.
After 20 events, I've seen a positive correlation between my average opponent rating in a tournament and my own performance rating in thirteen cases. This means that when my average opponent rating is higher than my own, I gain points in the tournament.
The flip side is that when I am the favorite vs my opponents, I lose rating points.
This is a very individual situation--it very well may not apply to you. I encourage you to go back and look at your own tournament data to see if there is a pattern as it could point to some weaknesses that you need to address.
In the chart above, the red orange line is my opponent average rating. The red line is my performance rating. The blue line is my post tournament rating. Notice how, in most cases, the orange and red peaks coincide. This shows the positive correlation.
(Note: The green box highlights one of the only noticeable discrepancies in the chart and was a 2 round tournament where I lost to an approximate 2250 and 1650 and so without winning any points, the performance rating is not really valid.)
What are some possible explanations for this correlation and how do I address them?
One idea I have is that I have a tendency to accept and/or offer draws when a position is still unclear, but scary, against stronger players, even if I feel I might have a small edge. If I don't know how to continue or start to doubt my ability to convert (or even to draw), I'll sometimes offer a draw.
Also, in clearly drawn positions, I have a tendency to accept my lower rated opponents' draw offers. In the Liberty Bell Open this past weekend, I scored five draws and two losses in seven rounds! One of those draws was in a B+R vs K+R ending where I had the bishop. The pawns were split but symmetrical. This is a position, even though it is probably dead drawn, I should have played out as my opponent was only rated 1598 and there was a slight chance I could have out maneuvered him to gain the win and a few rating points--instead of a draw and losing a few rating points. There was virtually no risk in continuing to play.
When you take a lot of draws, you want to play higher rated players! Of course, the longer-term solution to this particular weakness is that I need to develop more fighting spirit and not be willing to accept draws with lower rated players unless they can either force a draw or I am actually in a likely losing position (one that they could reasonable convert). IE, even if they have an advantage but are not yet clearly winning (maybe they are up a pawn but it is in the middle game and I have some, but not full, compensation), I should play on and force them to prove that they can do something with the position. Or, as my coach replies when offered a draw by lower rated opponents, "I'd rather lose."