A case for more filters!

Mar 17, 2012, 10:10 PM |

I've noticed a few predatory chess types on chess.com.


Before I understood what was happening, I asked myself, “Why have I been able to beat some people who are rated over 1600 by chess.com, yet I'm losing games to those who are rated at 1472 or worse yet, 1400?" I've even had a close game with someone who was rated at 1314.


After one loss, I discovered the computer chess game and proceeded to lose about 40 games to it before finally getting a draw. During the course of these "super blitz-type" games, there were several times when the chess style seemed familiar to me.


I decided to see what would happen if I set up the suspected game and let the computer play itself. The result was inconclusive, but my opponent had played the same moves as the computer about 57% of the time. Since, I too, had made many of the same moves as the computer, I decided it was probably just coincidence. Later, I ran another (unsuspected) game through the same process and came out with about 50% similarities.


Then, it occured to me! My opponent had probably, simply played a large number of games against the computer and had unconsciously adopted it's style. Or perhaps, he had studied chess tactics or used the "Game Explorer" or studied chess in books.


I admit, when I first thought the style was similar to the computer, I thought my opponent had cheated. And while that's possible, I think it's more likely that he just got hooked by the sales pitch at chess.com. That is, he began studying chess in order to become a better player. You can't fault that. It's what chess players have been doing since the game was invented.


But, I'm an amateur chess player. I've never had the illusion that I would become a master chess player or even that I might become a professional. According to the chess.com statistics, I'm one point below average. But then I notice that you can improve your ratings my using the Tactics Trainer? And that the "Free members" are limited to 3 problems a day. Interesting sales technique, isn't it?


I have studied chess on occasion. I've even learned a few openings, but mostly I have no interest in becoming a highly-rated player. It's too stressful. But I'm also not interested in being humiliated by someone who's using tricks they learned from a book or a computer. What's the point in that for either of us?


I'd like to suggest that chess.com incorporate a few additional filters when offering games:


In addition to our ratings, it would be nice to know whether or not the rating was exclusively gained through Turn-based games or Tournaments (or Tactics Trainer). It would also be nice if we could limit the range of people we are playing against by how many games they have in progress. Given the choice, I would never play against someone who is playing more than 3 games at once.


As someone who only recently finished my 15th game on chess.com, I would also prefer playing against those who have played a similar number of games, say a range of 10-20 total games (or even, maybe, fewer than 50). My average opponent on chess.com has played 198 total games.


I do appreciate the free forum and am not complaining rigorously. I just think there are probably quite a few average duffers like myself who don't want to play chess against ratings climbers who are simply regurgitating grandmaster moves and ideas. Let them play against each other! We'll all have a better time.


(I have no interest whatsoever in Tournaments or Chess960)
Sun 18 Mar 2012 00:05:07 CDT