The Beast

Sep 18, 2009, 8:27 AM |
I have just finished reading all 83 comments on the thread started by Joe Lux on the USCF website, USCF Rating System, which can be found under USCF Issues.
Some years ago, during a discussion at the House of Pain, a Master decried the use of 'numbers', going on to say that assigning a number to a human was 'demeaning'. It was extremely ironic when, a little later, someone asked who he had beaten in the last round and he replied, "Some 1800."
After a tournament players will stick around to learn how their rating has changed, some even calling the House after arriving home! This is especially true for the younger players on their way up.
During another discussion in Hendersonville, NC, NM Neal Harris said he considered me a '1900'. Players who have been around awhile get pegged, like it or not. And yes, players do lose playing strength as they age. Yet, no matter how low my rating goes, those who have known me for decades will still tend to think of me as a '1900'.
One of the reasons an older player will lose rating points, if he continues to play, is the game has 'speeded-up'. I recall GM Smekal lost rating points when the FIDE time control was reduced from 40 moves in 2 1/2 hours many years ago, and his results were never as good as before.
For many decades I told everyone my first rating was 1064. I lost all 6 games in my first USCF rated tournament. I was shocked when SM Klaus Pohl brought copies of old CHESS LIFE  magazines to the House and I saw my first rating was in the dreaded triple digits, 874, I believe. I had never seen that issue, for whatever reason. It was extremely rare to see a rating below 1000 back then. Now it is commonplace.
Two players playing in the same section may have exactly the same rating, but one could be young and on his way up, while the other could be a solid 'A' player, or even on his way down. An example: Many years ago I played in the 'A' section of the World Open and faced a young man named Vinny Puri. It was a long game ultimately drawn. He was not pleased, to say the least. Some time later (not sure how long) I read in a Canadian chess magazine about 'International Master' Vinny Puri! I was still '1900'.
I have talked with a great many players who have stopped playing because they teach chess, and would like to keep their current rating, as the perception is that 'the higher the rating, the better the teacher'. They see older players who still push pawns falling to the floor, and not getting up!
The problem is that of the rapidly improving player ("I just got good"-Bobby Fischer). Say a young player I'll call 'Beast', is rated 666, but really playing a thousand points higher. He plays an established  'B' player, rated 1666, four times over the course of a few months. It's like the HIGHLANDER, whereby the 'Beast' takes the 'B' players ratings. It's not that the 1666 player is not still playing at his level, but the 'Beast' is playing at a much higher level.
The solution would seem to be that the system should be changed so the 'Beast' can still gain points, but the established player can only lose, say, one half as many points.