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Feels like competition is harder at a given rating now.

Paleobotanical

I started playing chess last January for the first time, and quickly rose from mid-700s to mid-900s rapid across a TON of play in February and March, peaking slightly above 1000 in April.  I played a lot less for a while, and my rating dropped.  Now I'm bouncing around 850-920 or so.  OK, taking a break is likely to leave me out of practice.

However, as I've been playing a lot more and renewing my studying, I have been feeling subjectively like I've been improving, at least in small ways.  I've been doing tactics training and more often see beyond simple one-move tactical ideas.  I have more concrete plans for what I'm trying to do and far less often try things just because I'm out of ideas.

So, I pulled up some accuracy numbers using the new Insights feature in beta just to see if the data corresponded to my feeling:

Here's the period from April to August, when I was above 950 up to a peak rating of about 1014:

Here's the period from September to now, when I have been around 850-920:

I also use another site to do meta-analysis of my games on chess.com, and data there suggests I'm blundering more than I used to when I hit this rating range in the spring, so it's quite possible that I'm getting better on average but losing more games to one or a few catastrophic mistakes.

Still, it would make sense that with restrictions lifting around the world, and The Queen's Gambit effect wearing off, that ratings might shift downward a bit (since rating systems like chess.com's are dependent on overall skill levels of the player population.)

I guess I'm just curious whether other people have had the perception that competition is tougher now at a given rating than it was last year?

Personal note:  I'm fully aware that a common and very reasonable response is to say something like "who the hell cares and why are you worrying about your rating instead of trying to get better at the game?  Well, I'm doing that too, but I've always found statistically-based rating and matchmaking systems intellectually interesting, so no harm in taking a few minutes to look into the question.

CooloutAC

could be.  I've heard people say int he past the average rating was aroung 1200, then 1000 and now its 800.   Could be creeping back up after the covid and queens gambit fad is wearing off?   Not sure.   Its a rough sport to get into for a beginner, I can attest to that lol.

BennyyDee
I’ve noticed this too. I used to stay between 1500-1550 but I’ve been as low as 1400 in the last couple of weeks. Which is weird because I’m 1700+ on lichess. Chess ratings are weird.
KeSetoKaiba

I think you are close @CooloutAC but I think it is the opposite in a way. With a pandemic, MORE people have joined chess.com and decided to learn chess (chess.com reveals some statistics confirming this via a chess.com article during the pandemic), so this means there are more beginners. This means more players rated under 800 and this skews the average lower than it was. 

Once the pandemic ends, then we will see those players move onto OTB chess or let their chess.com accounts go inactive (out of chess.com rating pool) and then the ratings average may gradually return to 1100ish

CooloutAC
KeSetoKaiba wrote:

I think you are close @CooloutAC but I think it is the opposite in a way. With a pandemic, MORE people have joined chess.com and decided to learn chess (chess.com reveals some statistics confirming this via a chess.com article during the pandemic), so this means there are more beginners. This means more players rated under 800 and this skews the average lower than it was. 

Once the pandemic ends, then we will see those players move onto OTB chess or let their chess.com accounts go inactive (out of chess.com rating pool) and then the ratings average may gradually return to 1100ish

Thats exactly what I said bro.  I'm saying it could be going back up now.  In other words,  its already ending.

KeSetoKaiba
CooloutAC wrote:
KeSetoKaiba wrote:

I think you are close @CooloutAC but I think it is the opposite in a way. With a pandemic, MORE people have joined chess.com and decided to learn chess (chess.com reveals some statistics confirming this via a chess.com article during the pandemic), so this means there are more beginners. This means more players rated under 800 and this skews the average lower than it was. 

Once the pandemic ends, then we will see those players move onto OTB chess or let their chess.com accounts go inactive (out of chess.com rating pool) and then the ratings average may gradually return to 1100ish

Thats exactly what I said bro.  I'm saying it could be going back up now.  In other words,  its already ending.

oh okay, I thought you meant OTB ratings going up by itself, but you meant online ratings going up grin.png Okay, my bad, you are correct happy.png

Signal25
BennyyDee wrote:
I’ve noticed this too. I used to stay between 1500-1550 but I’ve been as low as 1400 in the last couple of weeks. Which is weird because I’m 1700+ on lichess. Chess ratings are weird.

It's well known lichess ratings are higher than on here and not comparable. 

Paleobotanical
KeSetoKaiba wrote:

I think you are close @CooloutAC but I think it is the opposite in a way. With a pandemic, MORE people have joined chess.com and decided to learn chess (chess.com reveals some statistics confirming this via a chess.com article during the pandemic), so this means there are more beginners. This means more players rated under 800 and this skews the average lower than it was. 

Once the pandemic ends, then we will see those players move onto OTB chess or let their chess.com accounts go inactive (out of chess.com rating pool) and then the ratings average may gradually return to 1100ish

 

So @KeSetoKaiba, that's exactly backwards.  Let's say you have a small population of skilled players.  For most players, matchmaking ensures a near 50/50 win rate, but those at the very bottom of the scale do worse because it's harder to find them a good match.  A large influx of new players with unknown ratings but lower average actual skill will mean players at the previous bottom of the scale get more good matches, which drives their ratings UP during pandemic boom/Queen's Gambit times.  Then, slightly higher-rated players win more, and their ratings get driven up, and eventually the upward pressure extends throughout the rating range.

Then, when the new players start to get bored, stop playing chess, move on, some people will drop out.  It's likely that those who are less engaged and drop out will tend to have a somewhat lower rating distribution.  So, now, at the lower end, it gets harder to find a good match and players lose more.  The lowest players start losing rating points and this creates downward pressure throughout the rating range.

TL;DR: A huge influx in inexperienced new players should make high ratings easier to get and so existing players' ratings will RISE.  As interest dies down, assuming those who remain are biased toward the more skilled, high ratings will be harder to maintain and will DROP.

Note that this is an expected feature of statistically-based rating systems like Elo and Glicko:  They measure individual skill relative to the overall skill distribution, not relative to any absolute standard of quality.

Also, note that if the large influx of new players had a similar or higher skill distribution to people already playing, this effect would be reversed.  I'm assuming they're less-experienced and probably less-skilled on average.

Edit:  All this is why my original post said that it felt my rating was going DOWN while quality of play was staying the same or increasing, and I was hypothesizing that this might be because casual players who came in with the pandemic/Queen's Gambit wave were dropping out.

Marquee_K

Every since joining in 2017 my rating has gone up and then back down, so this is probably true. 

CrazyXII
This is a sensible theory, Coolout, Paleobotanical, and KeSetoKaiba. I agree with you, but I like my higher ratings as they are…
CooloutAC
Paleobotanical wrote:
KeSetoKaiba wrote:

I think you are close @CooloutAC but I think it is the opposite in a way. With a pandemic, MORE people have joined chess.com and decided to learn chess (chess.com reveals some statistics confirming this via a chess.com article during the pandemic), so this means there are more beginners. This means more players rated under 800 and this skews the average lower than it was. 

Once the pandemic ends, then we will see those players move onto OTB chess or let their chess.com accounts go inactive (out of chess.com rating pool) and then the ratings average may gradually return to 1100ish

 

So @KeSetoKaiba, that's exactly backwards.  Let's say you have a small population of skilled players.  For most players, matchmaking ensures a near 50/50 win rate, but those at the very bottom of the scale do worse because it's harder to find them a good match.  A large influx of new players with unknown ratings but lower average actual skill will mean players at the previous bottom of the scale get more good matches, which drives their ratings UP during pandemic boom/Queen's Gambit times.  Then, slightly higher-rated players win more, and their ratings get driven up, and eventually the upward pressure extends throughout the rating range.

Then, when the new players start to get bored, stop playing chess, move on, some people will drop out.  It's likely that those who are less engaged and drop out will tend to have a somewhat lower rating distribution.  So, now, at the lower end, it gets harder to find a good match and players lose more.  The lowest players start losing rating points and this creates downward pressure throughout the rating range.

TL;DR: A huge influx in inexperienced new players should make high ratings easier to get and so existing players' ratings will RISE.  As interest dies down, assuming those who remain are biased toward the more skilled, high ratings will be harder to maintain and will DROP.

Note that this is an expected feature of statistically-based rating systems like Elo and Glicko:  They measure individual skill relative to the overall skill distribution, not relative to any absolute standard of quality.

Also, note that if the large influx of new players had a similar or higher skill distribution to people already playing, this effect would be reversed.  I'm assuming they're less-experienced and probably less-skilled on average.

Edit:  All this is why my original post said that it felt my rating was going DOWN while quality of play was staying the same or increasing, and I was hypothesizing that this might be because casual players who came in with the pandemic/Queen's Gambit wave were dropping out.

we are all saying the same thing bud lol

Arnaut10

#3 its not weird, its exactly as it should be. Lichess compared to cc has heavily overrated players - influation is bigger. I can't get to 1900 on cc yet, but on lichess I never drop below 2050. Thats why I like cc out of two because its more realistic. My OTB rating would probably be 1500-1600 and even lower. Being a 2000 is my goal but I have to admit that I still have tons of work to reach it and just because I have that rating on lichess it doesnt mean I have that strength neither on cc and I wont even talk about FIDE, its a long way to get there.

Arnaut10

#1 I haven't noticed anything and stats you showed as are slightly different. I neve experienced a big plateau so far and all my improvement was somewhat smooth and same. I dont think it would be the case if players got better. To reach 1000 you need to stop blundering free pieces and start taking every free piece your opponent gives you. This is enough to get you to 1000 in a month.

Paleobotanical
CooloutAC wrote:
 

we are all saying the same thing bud lol

 

Nope, he was saying that new beginners would bring overall ratings down and that them leaving would bring ratings back up.  It's the opposite.

CooloutAC
Paleobotanical wrote:
CooloutAC wrote:
 

we are all saying the same thing bud lol

 

Nope, he was saying that new beginners would bring overall ratings down and that them leaving would bring ratings back up.  It's the opposite.

Thats exactly what you said lol.  What am I missing?

Paleobotanical
Arnaut10 wrote:

#1 I haven't noticed anything and stats you showed as are slightly different. I neve experienced a big plateau so far and all my improvement was somewhat smooth and same.

 

To be clear, I'm not raising this question based on how I feel about my rating, and I know that ratings fluctuate normally.  I'm raising it because my measured accuracy over two periods, each months, with hundreds of games each, has gone up, while my rating's dropped about 100 points.  (Also, it's well-known that rating numbers are not absolute, they're relative to the population.)

The accuracy number differences are relatively small, but they've all gone the same direction (for wins, draws, and losses) and averaging over hundreds of games for each period means that the effect of random variance from game-to-game will be reduced quite a bit.  That still doesn't establish that it's a significant change of course.

CooloutAC
Paleobotanical wrote:
Arnaut10 wrote:

#1 I haven't noticed anything and stats you showed as are slightly different. I neve experienced a big plateau so far and all my improvement was somewhat smooth and same.

 

To be clear, I'm not raising this question based on how I feel about my rating, and I know that ratings fluctuate normally.  I'm raising it because my measured accuracy over two periods, each months, with hundreds of games each, has gone up, while my rating's dropped about 100 points.

The accuracy was changed to make players feel better about their game.    For someone like me.  My avg accuracy has jumped from 30% to 60%  but my play is exactly the same and so is my rating lol.    I immediately asked for a refund.

not only did they increase the accuracy for everyone.  You now get less blunders reported,  more brilliant moves,   and your accuracy is closer to what your opponents accuracy is in the same match.

Paleobotanical
CooloutAC wrote:

The accuracy was changed to make players feel better about their game.    For someone like me.  My avg accuracy has jumped from 30% to 60%  but my play is exactly the same and so is my rating lol.    I immediately asked for a refund.

not only did they increase the accuracy for everyone.  You now get less blunders reported,  more brilliant moves,   and your accuracy is closer to what your opponents accuracy is in the same match.

 

That's interesting!  I guess then the question would be whether the accuracies presented by the Insights tool (currently in beta, but it's where I got my numbers) are only the new accuracies, or are they a mix of new and old?  That's probably an implementation detail that only chess.com devs know for sure, but given that the Insights tool does require time to do a deep-dive analysis of historical games, I'd expect that they're all the new numbers.

CooloutAC
Paleobotanical wrote:
CooloutAC wrote:

The accuracy was changed to make players feel better about their game.    For someone like me.  My avg accuracy has jumped from 30% to 60%  but my play is exactly the same and so is my rating lol.    I immediately asked for a refund.

not only did they increase the accuracy for everyone.  You now get less blunders reported,  more brilliant moves,   and your accuracy is closer to what your opponents accuracy is in the same match.

 

That's interesting!  I guess then the question would be whether the accuracies presented by the Insights tool are only the new accuracies, or are they a mix of new and old?  That's probably an implementation detail that only chess.com devs know for sure, but given that the Insights tool does require time to do a deep-dive analysis of historical games, I'd expect that they're all the new numbers.

no idea,  but there were loads of threads with the same questions I had.   For me as a gold member,  there seemed no point anymore to looking at the basic accuracies and I actually felt like they were insulting my intelligence haha.

Paleobotanical
CooloutAC wrote:
Paleobotanical wrote:
CooloutAC wrote:
 

we are all saying the same thing bud lol

 

Nope, he was saying that new beginners would bring overall ratings down and that them leaving would bring ratings back up.  It's the opposite.

Thats exactly what you said lol.  What am I missing?

 

Sorry, I realize this is extremely difficult to explain clearly because it's somewhat counter-intuitive.

An influx of new beginners would bring overall ratings UP for existing players even if their skill doesn't change, because the competition is now easier on average.  Then when the beginners drop out, leaving the more experienced players behind, ratings go back DOWN at a given level of skill.

(The mechanics about why this happens in a rating system like Elo or Glicko have to do with players at the very low end of the rating scale finding it easier or harder to find an even match, and their rating changes cascading upward through all higher ratings.)

Edit:  It's not a question whether this kind of drift happens with statistically-based rating systems.  It does!  The question is whether it's happening with chess.com in the aftermath of Queen's Gambit.