A couple of questions about handicap and rating

In ranked games with handicap:

1. Why is your combined rating used for determining handicap, as opposed of using your rating at the time control that you are playing?

I usually play correspondence games and I feel that I’m considerably stronger at that time control than on live games. I think this is probably because I spend more time than my opponents calculating or because I’m bad at pattern recognition. So, I have 6.8k rating in correspondence vs 11.2k in live games.

But today I played my first live game in a long time and I was matched against a 10k and the system gave him 2-stone handicap, because my combined rating is 7.6k (I played way more correspondence than live games). To me this feels like my correspondence rating is putting me in a disadvantage when I play live, and the opposite, my live rating gives me an advantage when I play correspondence.

2. Is handicap taken in account when calculating the rating gain/loss?

My impression is that I lose more rating points when I lose against lower rated opponents. That would make sense if there was no handicap, but isn’t the handicap supposed to compensate for the rating difference? Then why is the rating gain/loss different depending on it?

That would normally not be a problem because some games would compensate others (sometimes you play lower-rated opponents, sometimes higher-rated), but I found that when playing correspondence leagues it can be a problem if you are the top-rated in the league. In this context you are always playing lower-rated opponents, so one single loss will make you lose as much rating as 3 wins.


I am in favor of completely eliminating the “overall” ranking, and only having the 12 speed/size rankings. I always cite lichess as a good example of this approach, but it’s certainly not the only one

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As I understand it, when two players play with the correct handicap, they are considered equal in strength with regard to distribution of rating points at the end of the game.

I suggest you create a separate account for play in live games, and keep your current account for use in correspondence games.

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The overall rating can be a nice thing for your profile but shouldn’t be used for rating requirements or calculations. Or maybe only as a placeholder if you don’t have an established rating in some time control / board size.

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I disagree with this lessened role, as well. I currently have 7 OGS accounts, but only 2 lichess accounts. Why? because so long as an overall rank exists, it will be the primary representation of your strength

My OGS accounts (not counting the one on beta):

  • Main Account (Live/Correspondence 19x19 rated, any settings unrated)
  • 9x9 Account
  • 13x13 Account
  • Blitz Account
  • Handicap Account
  • Blindfold Account
  • Multitable Account

My lichess accounts:

  • Main Account
  • Blindfold Account

The ones in Bold are the ones which would collapse into my Main Account if the overall rating did not exist. The ones not in bold are there because they are for something not separated out into a separate rating

So long as the overall rating exists in any capacity, all other ratings will necessarily be regarded as secondary

Curious what’s the rank of all these accounts. Have you noticed as significant difference?

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I’m pretty sure I remember looking at the code that does that a while ago, so yes.


I can confirm. Handicap is taken into account when calculating rating gain/loss.


Does it treat a handicap game such as a 5.0k giving 3 stones to a 8.0k as giving 50-50 expected win probability so each player would gain/lose the same rating points (assuming uncertainty and volatility parameters are the same)? Because that’s not quite correct, white has a half stone advantage in handicap games so is a little favoured to win so should gain a bit less if they win than black would if black wins.


IIRC the OGS rating system expects ~43% winrate for black with traditional handicap, which is similar to how the EGF rating system works with traditional handicap around 1d level, although the rationale for OGS seems to be more empirical than theoretical. [2021 Rating and rank adjustments - #350 by anoek]


Less difference than I expected. I have not extensively used most of the accounts, and I have recently been mostly playing on my Main Account, just using unrated for stuff which wouldn’t fall under it (I prefer rated, but it’s a tradeoff, because I have site supporter on my main account, and want to review my 9x9 games with it), and playing some games on my 9x9 account to get the rating correct (I’m still provisional there, as I only recently started studying 9x9 and thus wanted an Account with the right rating for it)

A few years ago, I was using my Blitz Account quite a bit relative to my Main Account, and I’m the same rank there as on my main account (3k), despite feeling weaker in Blitz. Then again, I usually play on the long side of Blitz, like 30s + 10s/move max 5minutes, or something like that, so it would likely be a bigger gap if I played stricter time controls

Let me play some more 9x9 games on that account and get back to you on where it settles, but I expect around 4k

Update: still provisional, but up to 3k (my Main Account rank), but a lot of weaker players have been accepting my open challenges, so I won’t put too much stock in the rating until a stronger player accepts and beats me

Update: lost vs a 7k, which put me down to 5k (still provisional). Close game, though. I could have won at multiple junctures, but I chose the wrong moves, and I lost by 4 points

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Isn’t having n handicap stones more on the board not considered during the japanese rules scoring a slight advantage for black?

I would frame it as any area ruleset which gives compensation for handicap stones giving a slight advantage to White, since the compensation violates the basic principle that a stone is one free move. Same as playing Handicap games with 0 or 0.5 komi violates that principle

Tromp-Taylor is an example of a ruleset that gets both these things right: a stone is a pass from Uwate (the handicap giver)

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A full handicap stones is worth 2 times komi[*]. For 2 ranks difference, traditional handicap is 2 stones without komi, which is worth about 3 times komi (i.e. only 1.5 full handicap stones instead of 2 full handicap stones).
A fair handicap (expected winrate 50%) for 2 ranks difference would be 3 stones with black giving komi, like an even game but with 2 extra moves for black at the start of the game. Alternatively, black could play with 2 handicap stones and white giving komi.

[*] By which I mean fair komi of about 6.5 points. Under Chinese rules that may be 7 points, but black gets a deduction of 1 point per handicap stones under many area scoring rule sets, so effectively a full handicap stone would still be worth about 13 points.

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A full handicap stone is worth twice fair komi, which is 7.0 for area and 6.5 for territory, but the compensation for handicap stones disrupts this by violating the basic principle that a handicap stone is a pass by Uwate (handicap giver)

No, normally black goes first and white gets komi. If you give black 3 extra stones to compensate for the 3 rank difference and do the same, that would be black playing 4 stones before white plays (with komi), but actually what happens in a 3 stone game is black plays 3 moves before white, not 4 (and white doesn’t get komi, which is half a stone).

You’re saying gets komi, gennan was saying gives komi. It threw me for a minute, too, but I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with his post here

Indeed, I’m saying the same as him in a different way, the “No” was to Groin’s “isn’t handicap better for black”.

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Ah, okay

So a 3 handicap game is a 2.5 stones advantage to black, and would give a 50-50 expected win between a 5.0k and a 7.5k (rather than an 8.0k).