2021 Rating and rank adjustments

LOL now we are having people saying the old system ranked preposterously high :slight_smile:

FWIW, 25-23k was definitely seen as “the ranks likely to play random moves” under the old system.

Also FWIW, as has been mentioned before, even in this thread, there are known problems being investigated with the behaviour of initial ranks.


IGS, Tygem, Fox, CyberOro all have a minimum rank of 18kyu and I think KGS absolute beginner was not far from 20kyu.

OGS was always the outlier.


…better :wink:


I want to say that, from the oldest kyu rank documents I could find around the 1930s, the lowest kyu rank is 15k. And at the time, the rank determination is very rigid and determined by handicaps (手合い)

Some Go schools like the one I attended also still only have the lowest kyu rank class at 11k~15k, anyone who just joined would be assigned to the beginner’s class and don’t get any rank.

I wonder when did the kyu rank start to “inflate”?


This is fascinating, because it seems to say that OGS’s 25ks were way too low, and now that they have come up to mid-teens, it’s about restored to what it once was! :open_mouth:

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This comes from 鈴木為次郎『囲碁独習』日本棋院 1931 (“Self-studying Go” by Tamejiro Suzuki for the newly established/merged Nihon kiin at 1924)

The reason that amateur (素人) rank only goes down to 15k seems to be that the beginner(初心者) was given 25 handicaps(15k), with some big gaps - 20 handicaps(14k), 17 handicaps(13k), 13 handicaps(12k), till 11 handicaps(11k), and then jumped to 9 to 2 handicaps(10k~3k), and josen and tagaisen (2k~1k), where komi was yet to be introduced.

And dan players and Nihon kiin players had their own smaller handicaps 手合割, all dan players were considered “professionals” (專門家)

They seemed to already recognize that lower-ranked players would have trouble utilizing handicap stones.


16k is not a high rank.

Until you have a bit more experience with the game and understand seki, I think you’ll be happier if you just ignore the rank, play some more games and have fun. :slight_smile:

You don’t need a rank if you aren’t invested in the competitive aspect.

(Hint: you can even hide rank display in the settings if it distracts you.)


I have encountered many players that are clearly weaker than 15k according to handicap.

For example:

  • Back in the day when I was about 2k I’ve played in some full handicap tournaments. In some games I had to give 9 handicap + something like 150 reverse komi (all adults). I even won those games by 100+ points (them ending up with only 1 or 2 small living groups). Such a result would suggest a rank gap of about 27, meaning those players were about 30k. These were probably beginners who had little more training than a beginners course.
  • I consider myself 3d and I routinely give 13 stones on 13x13 or 6 stones on 9x9 to the intermediate players in my childrens club. These are not raw novices. They know some tactics, they know about life and death and seki and they can score their games without my help. I think that these handicaps correspond to a rank gap of about 30.

So I’m unconvinced when some go school or go association deny that players weaker than 15k exist, because I know from personal experience that beginners and novices are clearly (much) weaker than 15k when measured by handicap. And I cannot believe it was really different in the 1930s. Maybe they didn’t consider players weaker than 15k “real” go players back then? Or is handicap measurement an invalid method to measure ranks? If it is, what do ranks even mean?

My explanation is that in the 1930 they only just started to apply science to the traditional rules (such as komi, time control, adjourning etc). It took many decades to get things “right”. (And some things are still not “right”, such as the official formulation of Japanese rules and Chinese rules, professional promotion rules, etc.) I guess that tradition runs deep in Japan and China.


Nobody denies that weaker players exist just that they weren’t assigned ranks. Claire mentioned that they are just regarded as beginners.

The reasons that they used don’t seem to be very good but that doesn’t prove that a good ranking system requires 20k+ ranks.


In my experience it’s perfectly possible to determine ranks weaker than 20k by the handicap they need to beat a 20k. So I see no reason to put those TKP playes in one 20k+ purgatory (as @anoek called it in his inititial post in this topic).


I’ve replied here

The lower rank were given more than 1 stone per rank. It’s just how they devise the rank difference back then. As to modern Go schools, we don’t actually use the handicaps as measurement anymore, but assigning by teachers to different classes along with some tournaments results, and usually play normal komi games amount classmates in the same class.


Yes, possible and likely ideal but this is a data driven system and the extreme tail of players combined with the fact that handicap games are virtually nonexistent make it difficult.

As an aside, I do wonder if handicap being disabled by default might actually hurt new player retention since they are losing too often.


Well, if your data is good enough for the range 15k-20k, you can just extrapolate the formulae downward. There is no reason to believe that there will be some hidden discontinuity below 20k.

Yes, I feel that not playing handicap games misses great opportunities when learning go. It’s a great feature of the game.


I think it’s a great idea.
We already have some stats from Salt Cat Mad Handicap tournament first round and second round just finished.
They are both about old rating system.
Third round just started with new ratings, so we’ll compare them eventually.

But a new tournament with lots of players would be fine to gather even more data


I don’t play correspondence, but I’m definitely up for some experimental live games with OGS DDK players to test high handicaps on smaller boards. But before I do, I wish someone would answer this question:


I get the impression that nobody knows, so I did some research.

Apparently, there is a known bug in OGS’ automatic handicap calculation on 9x9 (this might explain why nobody knows). So whatever handicap is calculated now, it is not what OGS intended. So better set it manually (but it makes me wonder how those OGS 9x9 handicap tournaments can work with broken automatic handicap).

I could not find how OGS’ automatic handicap 9x9 should be computed. AFAIK there is no universal standard for this, but the AGA has a standard and there are several variants used in Europe. I picked a few and plotted a comparison chart:

To make that chart, I used 2 x 6.5 komi for a full handicap stone to allow combinations of handicap stones + komi in each curve. The 6.5 komi value is what KataGo considers fair for 9x9 even games. The numbers on the vertical axis correspond to “full” handicap. So 1 handicap means 2 stones with black giving 6.5 komi.

In this chart you can see:

  • The AGA is the most generous with handicap: 1 stone per 4 ranks.
  • Next is Baarle (NL) youth club system with 1 stone per 6 ranks (it has a staircase shape, because it doesn’t use komi).
  • Then comes BGA/Cambridge system with 1 stone per 7 ranks.
  • And finally, Nijmegen (NL) is the most cringy with handicap: only 1 stone per 7.5 ranks (but that’s still close to the Cambridge system).

Concur about handicap games, especially for beginners. When I first started playing (IRL, way before computers)… handicap was essential, but basically a guess (if I won last time, I get fewer handicap stones). Now that with data and computers figuring out proper handicap… OGS does not promote their use. What a backward system.


Is it disabled by default? I can’t check custom games cuz I’ve since modified them, but for automatch settings Screenshot 2021-02-20 at 1.22.31 PM “Default is enabled”

Now I personally set my automatch settings to prefer no handi (and I’d imagine a lot of my opponents do), but that’s not because of OGS’s default settings, but an active choice of mine.


On blitz, default is disabled. Not sure why the discrepancy


ah, I forget blitz is a format ppl use sometimes. It makes sense for me intuitively to not handi blitz, but I can’t explain why… other than maybe that blitz games already allow quite a few upsets just due to time pressure