Do people at tournaments play weird openings to throw off a lower rated opponent?

In my experience, people actually know a weird amount of theory over the board. I was playing a nine year old 1650 recently who knew probably 14 moves of a relatively topical line of the Italian, moves that I only knew because I had literally bought a book on the Italian the day before- but as soon as I made a move that got him out of book he demonstrated pretty quickly that he didn't actually know any of the ideas in the position. Compare this to online play where people skip the memorized theory and go straight to playing like morons (hey, I'm not excluding myself).

A little positional knowledge goes a long way. A decent player will easily keep pace with anyone in under 2000 no matter what theory they know- you'll simply be able to figure out moves that are good enough over the board. Also, remember that most offbeat lines are pretty bad so view them with contempt, but also remember they're full of tricks... either way, it's not worth preparing against the Latvian or another bad opening you'll see twice in your career.

/r/chess Thread