Before I get into this topic I want to acknowledge and thank the volunteer organizers and pros who are making the e-Go Congress possible. It’s really awesome so far! Thank you for all your work!
I understand that the games played in this AGA congress will not be part of the current established AGA ratings due to the risk of cheating with AI, or even other people. And that’s reasonable.
When the games of the congress are finished, could there be a kind of provisional rank determined based on the performance in this congress?
I think a lot of people would really appreciate this for a couple reasons. Firstly, there’s the practical benefit of knowing approximately where your AGA ranking would be if these had been rated games. Many players had to make their best guess when registering, so some rating feedback at the end could be helpful for when they may make an estimate again in the future.
The second reason for providing a rank at the end of the congress is less practical, more emotive. I found aokun’s comments about the AGA system on Sensei’s Library:
aokun: I think the AGA system, consisting of numerical ratings only and with no ranks at all, is missing an opportunity. The rating math is fine, as far as I know, but I think the Association should award ranks as well.
The ratings go up and down and are a measure of current strength. That should stay the same. But when your rating gets to a certain level, your rank should too, and not go down. You should play at your rating or above, as now, with the rank as an indicator of achievement rather than current strength. The rank should come with a certificate, or ribbon, or medal or some other bauble.
The trouble with the ratings, aside from their inevitable descent with age, is that they are so flavorless and, until you are a shodan, negative. Most other martial arts and competitive games use evocative titles and tangible rewards to encourage members. Karate and Judo, like go Asian-origin martial arts, award colored belts and stamps in faux-leather booklets to mark promotion through ranks. Consistent with our psychology, this encourages effort. Archery in the US operates in a similar way; as you reach certain levels you are ranked, the ranks having names like “junior bowman.”
The 12-year-old karate student, after two years of effort, can tell mom he is a brown belt and show her the belt and papers. The similarly positioned go student can tell his mom that he is now an AGA -2.71, but that is not a rank, only a short-term indication of playing strength. Likewise, the 35-year-old judo practioner who, as a 24-year-old, earned a black belt, remains deservedly a black belt as his midriff expands, not subject to having the belt confiscated just because he can’t clobber the next generation.
Awards, ribbons and ranks are tangible forms of fun and recognition for go players. We should have them. At the very least, we should have something to reward folks who make shodan.
I understand this idea of awarding new provisional ranks at the end of congress has already been floated. I wanted to add aokun’s description of ranks as fun recognition for the players to the discussion.