Playing with 200+ more higher rated players and sometimes winning or playing with same rated or lower rated players and winning more?
If you can bear getting dismantled for an undetermined amount of time until you catch up to those that were 200 points higher, then that might be most efficient for growth.
With that said, you're talking about the #1 chess killer on the planet:
It's WAY too easy to get fed up with chess, call it "impossible", and move on to other things.
You must absolutely protect and maintain that 'enjoyment factor', or else you will end up with insufficient reasons to stay and play.
Chess should generally be exciting, energetic, thrilling, electric, exhilarating, suspenseful, wondrous.
There will be ups and downs, but on-balance chess should not remind you of stale gum.
Once the board gets claustrophobic and you begin thinking less and less behind your reasons for moving a piece, and those reasons become shallower and shallower, then at that point you know that it's time for a break, and that it's time to put the enjoyment first when you return.
Chess players are particularly susceptible to this trap, because we are hyper-competitive and often have obsessive compulsions.
Many of us, once we're informed enough to realize that we'll never be IMs or GMs, quit chess within the week.
It's important to frame chess in a way where it becomes it's own reward.
It's important to establish sustainable reasons for sitting down to play.
So as long as you're doing that, then you can go ahead and try anything and everything that you think might help you improve.
I try both. I learn a lot from lower rated too BUT not too low maybe up to less 150 points. Why? Because I can apply the things I had studied. Very much stronger is also good practice too you push all your skills. Equal strength opponents should be ok.
Losing is bad for you self-esteem, so always play with players that you can easily win. (jk)
I would say playing against stronger players will improve your play more but that being said and like others have mentioned in this thread losing a lot will be the sacrifice you'd have to make. But you never get any where taking the easy way and though not common on online chess but more popular over the board if you can get the players to explain what happened in the game and what they were thinking and try and explain what you were thinking is also a good way of trying to get better. Another thing is not making the same mistakes and identifying the gaps in your game, which would most likely exposed by higher level opponents. But with that being said it also comes down to how far your willing to push yourself to get better and if your fine with just becoming as good as those players your playing against or even become better than them.
I played a ton of higher rated guys in the super blitz shield and even know I lost a ton of games I was playing with all my focus and got to beat a few 1800/2000s it was very fun and good practice. There might have been one or two mouse slips in my favor too.
I think I'm fine in regards to losing alot when competing with higher rated players.
I always think its normal for them to beat me so I dont mind my losses too much
I just enjoy the process more than the outcome when playing with them.
On the contrary I get tilted and impatient when losing to lower rated or same rated players
They're both important.
Playing lower rated players (where you need a big positive score to maintain your rating) is important to teach the skills of consistent, accurate, good-enough moves which don't compromise your position and give your opponent the chance to make mistakes that you can exploit.
Part of being 1700 is the ability to consistently beat 1400s, likewise 2000 vs 1700 etc all the way up to 2900 vs 2600.
Playing higher rated players teaches you to look for the best and most testing moves that will ask maximum questions of your opponent, but that without precise and accurate calculation may leave you lost.
I love playing higher rated players, and even keep my settings restricted to them. My win/loss ratio is appalling, but there's no better feeling in chess than kicking the ass of a 200 or 300 higher rated player. Regarding rating, it still rises gradually that way as one improves, even if you win only one in 7 or 8 or 9. Long term I think one learns more that way.
You can't post in the forums yet. Play some games!