A number of years ago (20 or more at a guess), I watched an interesting game at Belconnen Chess Club. It was between one of the club stalwarts and a newcomer to the club. The newcomer was quite a strong player (1800 ish), while the stalwart was a solid 1200 player. As it turned out, neither were aware of the others rating, and after much back and forth the game ended in a hard fought draw.
After the game the newcomer was chatting to me and asked about his opponent. "He's pretty good" he said, "he's rated about 1700/1800, isn't he?". "Ah, no" I replied, and informed him of his opponents real rating. And of course a couple of minutes later the stalwart also has a chat to me. "The guy I played, he isn't that good. He'd be about 1200, wouldn't he?"
I've always wondered if knowing a players rating has an influence on how we approach the game. For me I would say it is definitely the case, while for others I suspect they would play the same way regardless.
So here is an exercise. The following game was played recently, but I've left the names and ratings of the players out. How strong do you think both players are? (Fell free to give a numerical value, or some general description instead)
1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Nc3 c6 5.Qb3 0-0 6.e3 a5 7.Nge2 Na6 8.a3 Nc7 9.d4 exd4 10.exd4 Ba7 11.0-0 Re8 12.Be3 Ng4 13.Bf4 Ne6 14.h3 Nf6 15.Rfd1 d6 16.d5 Nc5 17.Qc2 g6 (D)
18.dxc6 Bf5 19.Qd2 Nb3 20.Qxd6 Qxd6 21.Rxd6 Ne4 22.Nxe4 Bxe4 23.Bxe4 Rxe4 24.Nc3 Rxc4 25.cxb7 Rb8 26.Rad1 Rxb7 27.Bh6 f5 28.Rd8+ Kf7 29.R8d7+ Rxd7 30.Rxd7+ Ke6 31.Rxa7 1-0