Today, we've made some exciting improvements to Live Chess! These aren't brand new features, but instead, things that make existing features a lot more fun. There are two themes here: Fair Play policies and Tournaments... Let's dive in!
In recent weeks, many people have been surprised to find their account restricted (unable to play open challenges) because they weren't following Fair Play guidelines; in other words, they were aborting too many games, and/or abandoning their games in hopeless positions.
It seems like the vast majority of these people were aborting games, far more often than abandoning or disconnecting - and in many cases, the reasons for aborting came from not knowing how to get the kinds of games they wanted to play. Clearly some adjustment was needed, so here's what we did:
- Update Dec. 5, 2011: We have now permanently removed the full restriction on open seeks: Preventing people from playing was simply making it too difficult for them to make positive changes to their own Fair Play scores, and thus creating a dead end. Effective immediately, "fully restricted" members must instead wait 5 minutes between games (unless playing with Friends); this includes games that are aborted, so please read the Fair Play guidelines for tips on how to get the perfect game to begin with!
- We put a cap on Aborts! If a user aborts too often, we will simply stop them from aborting. Users constrained in this way will either have to play or resign, right from the start of each game. (Closing the browser doesn't get people off the hook either; we log the disconnect against their Fair Play score.)
- We automated aborts for games where nobody moves at the start! Even if you've lost your ability to abort, you shouldn't have to resign if you get caught in a game where the other guy has decided to walk away. Each player has 15-20 seconds to make their first move in the game. If no move is made, the server will abort the game. This impacts the Fair Play record for the player who fails to move. (So it's better to wait than to impatiently hit the Abort button yourself.)
- We made the Rating Options for new games much harder to overlook. A lot of people were aborting time after time simply to get an opponent with a desirable rating. Of course, there has always been a better way...
We recommend going with relative values here (use + or - to signify an amount higher or lower than your current rating for the Min and Max), since that will allow you to set this up once and forget about it, no matter what type of game you are playing, or how your own rating changes over time.
Finally, we have just adjusted the fair-play records for all restricted players, so now everyone may play again! It seemed only fair, given the nature of the changes we made... (Get it? "Fair"? See what we did there? ) Be good to each other (because we aren't planning on doing more of these resets)!
PS: If you're wondering what happened to the "New Analysis Board" link that used to be at the bottom of the New Game tab, please note that we moved it out to cut down on visual noise. Find a new "Analysis" option in the drop-down menu instead: If you "Start Game" with Analysis chosen, you get a new analysis board. Simple!
See the updated Fair Play Policy FAQ!
We made some strategic changes to make tournaments more attractive and more fun!
- New Schedule! We reduced the number of tournaments per hour to 8 - one tournament every 10 minutes, plus 5|0 events at :15 and :45. We made an effort to alternate longer and shorter time controls to ensure that consecutive tournaments don't compete for the same registrants. The goal: more competitors in every event!
- A new way of handling withdrawals! Most of the time, people who withdraw are basically eliminating themselves when it's clear they have no chance of a top result; however, these people still have a material effect on the outcome and are therefore now represented in the final standings. [Note: This feature requires a little more trouble-shooting, and will be implemented ASAP.]
- Interface improvements! The tab for a specific tournament is now detachable. We've added a Help link. Premium members are now no longer withdrawn from tournaments if they are playing in another game when it begins: They simply have two games running. (Good luck with that.) And more!
- Total # of participants is now shown in the Tournament End pop-up - by popular demand!
Whew! Ok, short version? Live Chess got a little bit more awesome today. Please enjoy responsibly!
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