Silly rating stuff

by admin on January 11, 2014

The ratings for the Bay Area International chess tournament were posted on the USCF website today, and I discovered something quite surprising. Here is a list of the players with established USCF ratings (this excludes, for example, the Chinese players) who had the largest rating gains for the tournament.

  1. Bartlomiej Macieja +45 points (2559 -> 2604). He had an awesome tournament, tying for first and he was in or near the lead the whole way.
  2. Brandon Ashe +36 points (2279 -> 2315). Got off to a great start, 4-2 after six rounds. Then he got fed to the wolves in the last three rounds, but still managed to draw against IM Chen Wang in the last round to finish at 4½ points. He didn’t win a prize (Daniel Gurevich passed him for the under-2300 prize) but the rating system recognizes the fact that he had a harder set of opponents than Gurevich, who gained “only” 32 rating points.
  3. Dana Mackenzie +34 points (2124 -> 2158). What? How does my name get on this list, when I didn’t come within a country mile of winning a prize, played four awful games out of nine, and in general had a tournament that I consider okay only because of my win in the last round? Well, there are two reasons. First is that I had a rating handicap every single game. Everybody I played was rated at least 140 points above me, so I could gain rating points simply by drawing. The second reason is the “K factor,” which has recently been made larger for people under 2200. So I get a bigger reward for winning than the over-2200 folks.

Well, of course, ratings don’t mean very much, but I thought this was kind of amusing. I think if there is any lesson from it, it’s to pretend all of your opponents have ratings 100 points lower than they really do. The only ratings that were displayed at the Bay Area International were FIDE ratings, which typically run 50-100 points lower than USCF. So when I saw that I was playing a guy like Leon Piasetski (2289 FIDE, 2390 USCF), I didn’t think of him as a high-2300 player. I didn’t even have any clue what his USCF rating was. Instead I thought of him as a high-2200 player, and I figured, “I can beat this guy.” It’s a silly thing, I know, but I think that this psychologically made me feel more competitive.

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