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It seems that a large percentage of the players in this country are extremely “rating-phobic.” Sure, USATT ratings provide a way to track your improvement, but in reality they only show how well you played in your last tournament. Too often players will only sign up for tournament events where they have an opportunity to play only against higher-level players. The logic behind their thinking is that they should be able to play better players to improve if they’re paying money to play.
Hypothetically, you could play seven matches in a tournament, lose six, and your rating could still go up 50 points. The problem is that in such a style dependent sport, there are indeed ways to temporarily “beat the rating system.” However, the only accurate way to determine your true level is to consistently play against players of all levels and styles.
Too often players measure their improvement over time by how many points they have accumulated, rather than thinking about how they have improved over the last few months or years. In such a complex sport, there are always new things to learn; so my best advice to anyone would be to stop worrying about ratings and play as much as possible! That is the best way to improve!
Hope this helps!