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I've noticed there are a lot of posts debating ratings on chess.com, whether they are inflated or not, whether they are meaningful or a waste of time, whether people cheat by using an engine on a computer when playing in longer game formats, etc, etc, so I thought I would add my opinion, for what it's worth. It seems to me that, no matter what the situation with the website, matching system, value of the rating compared to a 'real rating' in real life, the extent of cheating and so on, you should only really judge your play based on the DIRECTION your rating is going. If you are steadily growing your rating it means you are improving (as long as you aren't cheating yourself!). In this type of situation the more people on the site the more you must be improving because you are doing it despite a handicap. I think most people don't cheat because people try to win for the sense of reward and anyone using an engine would have no long-term sense of reward for doing it. It would extremely tedious to play hundreds of games whilst consulting a computer just to get a number to go up on a screen, although I am sure there are some people who would do it. As for the ratings on here being inflated or not, again, who cares? As long as you are moving in the right direction it doesn't matter. I would hazard a guess that if you are putting in work on chess.com and your rating here is increasing the same hard work will boost your 'real life' rating when you get one, even though that rating may end up being lower for whatever reasons.
I am sure this has been said before, so sorry if by reading this post you are now reading the same thing for the hundredth time!
I agree. Lately my rating has not been moving much... well, it's actually fallen a little. Time to start improving again!
In my original post I meant to say 'the more people cheating on the site...'
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