A Go Player

One man's fascination with the world's best game

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


I have been foregoing the vicarious pleasures of KGS lately for the more measured and relaxed pace of DGS. It seems that I don't work as well under the pressure of a 15-minute game as I do when I can think about my move for a while. In addition, I can download the .sgf and play with moves to try to understand their effect on the local and global situations.

So I'm down to about 20kyu, and I am about to win a series of games that would normally probably bump me up to about 18kyu. Very, very exciting. The best one by far is a game against a 3kyu player. I took 9 stones and am going to win by about 5 points. Very, very cool and - as I said - very, very exciting.

But unfortunately, I also have a couple games coming up that I will lose. No big deal, normally, except that these people are experienced players who chose to enter their rank as 30kyu. And I am about to lose one, maybe two of them. So what?

Well, this is what is known over all the go servers I've been on as "sandbagging". What it does is artifically drive the loser's rank down, assuming the loser is - like me - much higher than 30kyu. Now it's not so much that I care about rank per se. I mean, it's irritating that if I win, I get credit for beating a 30kyu player - i.e. a rank raise of about 2%-3% of a kyu - for a hard-fought game. And it's also more than irritating that if I lose, I go up several ranks. But that isn't the real reason it's such a problem.

Okay, so if I lose, I become underrated, and if I win, I become overrated. This means that when I play properly handicapped games against other players, I - in effect - become an unwilling sandbagger myself.

Now, it's true that I could give those players less strong than myself a handicap that would be appropriate for what I consider to be my true rank, but then my rank would increase very slowly, meaning that I would have to play many more games in order to get a reasonably stable rank again. The same goes for asking for a handicap less than my rank says I should get.

So who cares about rank, right? Just play and have fun! Right?

Well rank is the only way we have to measure our improvement. My personal goal is to become good at this game, and to do that, I need a yardstick by which to measure my improvement. So people who choose to fuck with my yardstick are not appreciated. Not to mention that their ripple effect sucks, as their single act of jerkiness spreads throughout the pool of players, artificially causing rank churn.

So, sandbaggers... bleah. Piss on 'em.


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