USCF unrated player rating system

coach_craig

Hello, not too long ago I had a situation in a tournament where I lost my first round to an unrated player. I was 2145, and he went on to lose every other game. Then he received a provisional rating of 1700, and the game was rated as if I had lost to a 1700 rated player. This seems extremely illogical to me, to rate a well established player (myself) based on a game against an unrated player, whose provisional rating, we all know, can be prone to wild fluctuations. I brougjt this topic up once before on facebook, and was basically shot down because many of my friends just assummed that it was sour grapes on my part, but in fact I am troubled by this apparent flaw in the rating system. Is there a mathematical reason that games must be rated this way? Has anyone else expressed dissatisfaction with this, and is anyone trying to change it?

GMPatzer

His rated agianst you and others in that tournament would be an average against his opponents the formula is

New Rating = Average Opponents + 400 (w - l) / games played

I believe this goes for 24 games

since his rating is unkown you can not assume a rating for him so an average is the fairest way

coach_craig

It can lead to some very funny hypothetical situations. For example, I lose to the unrated player in the first round (which happened in the above case), then I realize that no matter what I accomplish in the rest of the tourney my rating will most likely be affected the largest by how the unrated player does, therefore : A)I drop out of the tourney to Coach the guy because every time he wins, I gain rating points B) He didn't like me becuase I smell, therefore he sadistically loses the rest of his games on purpose in order to harm me the most, C) I realize he is a weak player, likely to lose his games so I pay him to withdraw from the tournament, thus saving a boat load of ratingoints, D) I am poor, so I just murder him....It seems to me that these hypotheticals, ridiculous as some of them are, do point out a serious flaw in the system.

coach_craig

If I am paired with an unrated player again, I am resolved to forfeit the game and, if necessary, withdraw from whatever tournament it is, unless someone can convince me of a logical reason for the system being as it is.

SQxA

How would you want the system to rate the games? You could just join tournaments that only have unrated players play in unrated section or open section and then not worry about it.

Superweakie

This is all a rather poor way to look at ratings. What ever your strength is the rating system will eventually show it. The cream rises to the top. Individual games are not that important.

coach_craig

Thank you for your replies. SQxA, I would prefer the game to be rated for the unrated and unrated for the established player. If you play a provisional player, I think your fluctuation should be greatly reduced.

coach_craig

superweakie, That is a good point. Of course, I realize that the damage is only temporary, but I am only able to play a few tournaments per year, and when I shell out half a grand or more on hotel,gas, tourney, food, perhaps you can see why the rating loss (that in my opinion is illogical) would disturb me a bit. I do npt know your rating, but at +2100 points are often hard to come by, especially if you live in an area with very few strong players or tourneys, such as I

GMPatzer

You would gian nothing by droping out and coaching the guy you would still lose rating points it would just be a case of how many points.

I am sure many a 2500 player has looked at 2100 rated player his stonger days and pondered the same thing what wild flactutions

and a 400 point rating difference still ownly has winning percentage of 92%,

coach_craig

If the 2100 player has an established rating, that is a totally different scenario. By not losing as many rating points I WOULD be, in effect, gaining rating points. If he had won one more game, even if it was mostly luck, such as a sick opponent, the rating loss would have been far less severe. Of course, if he were established and not unrated, that would not be the case.

MW202
coach_craig wrote:

It can lead to some very funny hypothetical situations. For example, I lose to the unrated player in the first round (which happened in the above case), then I realize that no matter what I accomplish in the rest of the tourney my rating will most likely be affected the largest by how the unrated player does, therefore : A)I drop out of the tourney to Coach the guy because every time he wins, I gain rating points B) He didn't like me becuase I smell, therefore he sadistically loses the rest of his games on purpose in order to harm me the most, C) I realize he is a weak player, likely to lose his games so I pay him to withdraw from the tournament, thus saving a boat load of ratingoints, D) I am poor, so I just murder him....It seems to me that these hypotheticals, ridiculous as some of them are, do point out a serious flaw in the system.

 The only flaw is that you would hypothetically murder someone for ratings points.

mpaetz

At the end of the tournament the unrated players are provisionally rated before the other games are rated. If, for example a player scored 50% against players whose average ratings was 1500, he would get a provisional rating of 1500. Had he done better or worse he would receive a rating equal to that of a player whose results achieved the ELO system would have predicted. Then his games are rated normally. Naturally losing to a player 400 points lower than you will cost a lot of rating points.

But what can the USCF do? Wait until your opponent has played the requisite 24 games to obtain a normal rating and then go back and re-rate all the tournaments he played in? If, like you he cannot play often this might take many months. What if his rating turned out to be lower than the provisional rating he had at one of the earlier tournaments--should he then be eligible for a prize he would have won with his "correct" rating? Or if his rating was higher need he forfeit a class prize for which he would not have been eligible? What if he had had a more successful outcome (achieving a 1950 provisional rating) and but later played much worse and finished with a 1350 rating--wouldn't you be outraged to later be penalized even more rating points?

Provisional ratings for unrated players are a "best guess", made with insufficient data. We can't expect a novice who wishes to try out USCF tournaments to commit to playing 24 games right away to get a more accurate assessment. If it turns out that his first regular rating is around in the 1600s you would have no complaint (except kicking yourself for playing poorly enough to lose to a much lower rated player. The rating system isn't perfect, we have to live with it as it is. Should have any concrete ideas to improve it, please let us know.

On a humorous note, in 1975/6 Soviet grandmasters Leonid Shamkovich and Anatoly Lein emigrated to Israel and soon after came to play in a large-prize-money open tournament in New York. Due to a paperwork snafu, one of them (probably Lein, who moved a few months later--I can't remember for sure) didn't have a rating from the Israeli chess federation but was no longer rated by the Soviet federation, so he had to play as an unrated. He wasn't happy but at least he had an easy time winning first place money in his class.

coach_craig

Why can't we just not take away (or award) rating points from established players for results against unrated or provisional rated players? 

mpaetz

Because these are real games and should be rated. As you played poorly enough to lose to someone who couldn't even get one draw in the rest of the tournament you earned those lost points. What if a B-class player beat a strong player from India who just moved to the USA for college or a job--shouldn't he get credit for the win? Also, when every new USCF member got a "real" rating, all those points would be added to the total ratings pool, leading to overall rating inflation.

coach_craig

 

Thank you for your time.

With all due respect, your final point is the only one that is at all compelling to me. That actually may be true. However, on many online sites when you lose to a provisionally rated player you lose very few points, while they gain more than usual, and inflation doesn't seem to be an issue....So I don't know.

 

The rest of them I could easily argue against, but what's the point? 

 Personally, I intend to just take an unrated forfeit if paired with an unrated player in a tournament. 

 

 Anyway, again, thanks for your time, mystery person commenting on this thread from many years ago 😊

 

 

mpaetz

This seems unfair and discouraging for the new player trying out his first tournament/club/rated game. Why penalize him/her?