A Go Player

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

Friday, December 03, 2004

One last thing

The AGA has a section on sandbagging in their ratings FAQ.
The AGA does not allow sandbagging — the practice of playing below one's rated strength (presumably looking for easy wins, and/or tournament prizes). Even if sandbaggers win all their games, their ratings improve only slowly, so they do themselves no favor from the point of view of maximizing their ratings.
Losing to them won't hurt other players' ratings much, but it is disconcerting to run into "ringers", and it makes the competition for tournament prizes unfair. One of the practical uses of the rating system is to provide a "lower bound" on the rank at which players are allowed to enter tournaments.
Occasionally, a player feels that he or she has been "overrated", and wants to
play below their rated strength, because they honestly feel they would only lose
at their rated level. However, if too high, such players' ratings will rapidly adjust
downward (within one or at most two tournaments) if in fact they lose most of
their games. The grief suffered by such players is probably far outweighed by
the benefits of preventing sandbagging.

Seems reasonable to me. An interesting point is that because all ratings are known beforehand, sandbagging is the act of playing below your level, instead of disguising your level, as it is online. However, I am sure that the initial "set-your-own-rank" feature of the AGA holds just as many problems as a new online account can.

However, you cannot simply start a new AGA membership as easily as you can an online one, due to the vested cost of membership. Thus, I think that in the face-to-face community, sandbagging - to a fair extent - is already lessened just due to the environment.


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