Escaping by Timeout

That’s right.

Vsotvep resigned against me just recently in that batch resignation. And now if/when they are back playing at the deflated rank of 9k (I’m currently at 10k - after clawing my way back up) and I play them, then I will most likely lose and take a hit in my rank…? Would that be correct?

It’s a shame that the discussion has become so polarized. People on both sides do clearly feel quite strongly about this issue, but we should not let that get in the way of finding common agreement and compromise.

I think it is important to consider the distinction between accidental vs intentional timeouts.

Those in favor of the current rule have a valid argument in that accidental serial timeouts should not be too harshly punished. A string of accidental timeouts are probably often a mix of winning and losing positions, and marking them all as losses could distort the ranking system.

Those in opposition to the rule also have a valid argument in that intentional serial timeouts could be abused by cheaters to escape from losing positions. By selectively avoiding losses, these cheaters could also distort the ranking system. Further, the potential to abuse this rule might actually encourage more timeouts to happen.

I hope that a common point of agreement is that we do not wish to see serial timeouts (either accidental or intentional) distort the ranking system. However, the difficulty is that each case needs to be handled differently.

I think the heated argument over this issue has created an impression of a false dilemma: that the only thing we could do is change nothing or fully repeal the rule. Each would come at the cost of the other concern.

I think an ideal system would be one that annuls all accidental correspondence timeouts but does not annul any intentional timeouts. Of course, it is impossible to determine with absolute certainty in all cases whether a correspondence timeout was accidental or intentional. However, some situations are more clear. For example, if a player is still logging into the site (and maybe even playing moves in other games), but ignoring some correspondence games until they timeout, then I think those timeouts should be assumed to be intentional. Ultimately, I think an intentional timeout should be handled no differently than a resign.

Earlier in this thread, I mentioned a compromise proposal (first suggested even earlier in another thread by someone else) that may help distinguish between many cases of intentional and accidental timeouts:

  • Clear the timeout flag as soon as someone logs back into the site.

This would prevent abusers from continuing to use the site and play other games while selectively timing out their losing positions. This change also would not affect the situation for accidental serial timeouts where the player has simply disappeared.

Another related change to reduce the risk of accidental serial timeouts is to automatically activate vacation time when a correspondence timeout is imminent.


The entire crux of this disagreement is that I don’t think longer time controls are actually different enough from short time controls to justify cutting people slack. The current rule encourages a bad behavior, and I am not convinced by any argument that I’ve seen that this rule is objectively better than the possible consequences of changing it.

@yebellz that was just beautifully put.

Well I for one think it much easier and more enforcable for people to plan ahead for ONE 30min game than for 20 games possibly spanning a month, you do not? :open_mouth:

Similarily I am not convinced by any argument that canceling it would be objectively better than keeping it. In such a case it makes no sense to cancel for me as there still could be unforseen complications. I think Yebellz summarised the issue perfectly.
I am not against changing it. In fact I believe I have on several occasions expressed that I am FOR change. I am against CANCELING it.

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If someone can’t be bothered to login and check their games when they know that they have active games, that is their problem, not mine. I also think that the suggestions given for potential alterations to how the rule function are a reasonable compromise that could go a long way to discouraging intentional abuse.

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This sounds great, it would also stop all the “hey what does the T after my rank means” questions on chat.

Auto-vacation is also a great idea, and according to @anoek, its in the to-do list (since november 2014)

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No, I will not stop comparing them to real life tournaments, because that is exactly the issue: People play tournaments and ranked correspondence games because players tend to take ranked games more seriously, so everyone profits from the mutually agreed commitment. Timing out is already reneging on that commitment unless - which I think is certainly often the case - one mistakenly thinks that timing out a lost game is a form of resigning.

This rule essentially voids time settings for correspondence games.

Why would they encounter such opponents when they can choose their opponents? One of the example players I gave timed out against four players who were two stones within their rank and then proceeded to win 10 games against players 5 stones weaker. Sure, they cannot rank up indefinitely, but they can easily keep their ranks 3 stones higher than their skill. The argument “that they have to crash” just ignores that they can continue their behaviour.

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You really think that the person who takes the weekend trip will treat a totally open game with 10 moves against a player of the same rank, a game with 200 moves against a stronger opponent that they are winning and a game with 200 moves against a weaker opponent that they are losing the same way when it comes to the question whether to enable vacation mode to be on the safe side?

And more importantly, it is not a mixed string on my side. Essentially, you are expecting me to not resign on clear losses if it seems that they will be annulled by time-outs.

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I do really think like this. Because i do precisely this xD

The problem with vacation time is, that it tends to drain out pretty quickly. Especially for the player who has a bit too many ongoing correspondence games and something else to do in life than just play go. Even if you pay to get twice the vacation time, it still isn’t enough :<

Sometimes there simply isn’t enough vacation time to allow even a one day slip-ups :c

eh… you don’t choose your opponent in a tournament - am I barking up the right tree?

actually, this is a bit offtopic, but i do hate the vacation time in ongoing tournaments. It’s the reason why tournaments are so long drawn out.

Why should they play tournaments?

Players can choose the rank of their opponents in challenges.

Are we not talking about correspondence games?

Aren’t tournaments also correspondence?

Do timeouts occur in correspondence tournaments? I think they do…

…edit… perhaps I missed the specific point that I’m refering to above but nonetheless someone with a deflated rank playing in correspondence tournament will negatively affect other players ranks

smurph wrote that people who cheated their way out of losing would rank up and then lose 70% of the time.

I replied that they do not have to choose opponents of the same rank.

Your reply that a subset of correspondence games are correspondence tournament games has nothing whatsover to do with my reply that they do not have to choose opponents of the same rank.

About the Cheaters: Let’s really think about it.

Let’s say the player is 7k, he plays even games with a winrate 50/50.
If this 7k player plays as 7k even games with weaker people he gets far less ELO. So, he would need much more games to “level up”
This player levels up with timeouts – meaning: he has to timeout a bulk of games with even players, or a bigger bulk of games with weaker players than him.
Now the player did it: he is 5k. He could, as you said, play many many 10kyus as 5kyu, but he won’t really lvl up anymore. The gap is too big. So he has to play at least 7kyu. If he loses only 1 game his rank will drop significantly. So he would have to timeout many many many more games to simply keep his ranking.

If a player really does this, i am certain you can see it in his history. Not just some timeouts, but the real deal: many many many timeouts in large bulks, again and again.
You have to plan this, you have to play many many games in the same time. You have to time it exactly, which may be hard work. Too much work. Who the hell wants to do this?
All you get is maybe 1-2 ranks more, and then you aren’t allowed to play anymore. Only 1 loss against a weaker player and you’ll just are back where you started.
Also: you can’t play Ladders this way - you drop out. You can’t play tournaments this way - you drop out.

There are way way simpler ways to cheat and get a better rank than you have.
And there are way simpler ways to troll people.
So i really don’t get why people are crying “timeout escape”


Still waiting for data. I’m sorry this is a short comment, it’s not aimed at anyone, its just pointing out that last time this whole debate (which has been had before) fizzled out in the face of lack of data that there’s a problem. We can argue till we are blue in the face, but nothing is likely to change unless someone establishes that there is an actual problem.

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I think I have already answered this question, at least on behalf of myself:

The vast majority of consecutive time-outs are not related to cheating. However; @Wulfenia made an EXCELLENT observation that a degree of time-out cheating may occur unintentionally simply because players tend to spend more time thinking about a game that they think they might be able to turn around and such games are therefor more likely to end up in the batch of time-outs. In such cases it is impossible to convince a mod that cheating has occured because you still have a mix of won and lost games.

If I may be so bold, I think the mistake that is being made on this issue, is that total consideration is being given to the mathematics and no consideration is being given to the psychology of the situation.

The current ‘annul consecutive correspondence time-outs rule’ condones poor behaviour and even encourages those who wish to use the site as if it were a bot-slave. ‘No Problem. Start some more games and quit playing them whenever you like.’

I offer the following example of a player who was gratuitously joining new tournaments while endlessly timing-out of them. Effectively using the site to set up a series of ‘whole board problems’ for their own idle amusement while having absolutely no regard for any of their numerous opponents. Nb. To the best of my knowledge, now banned.

It’s an interesting example because on the one hand, it shows how large the amount of ‘garbage’ data could be without the current rule but on the other hand it was the current rule that allowed this player to continue to display a tenable rank. If the system had been allowed to mark his rank as garbage and provisional then at least future opponents would have been warned not to take such games seriously.

In conclusion, I have enough faith in the mods that have posted here and the dev team, that I accept that simply scrapping the rule is not an option.


We should continue to explore the various proposals that have been put forward to improve the situation. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Allowing the winner of such games to determine how it is counted.
  2. Automatically triggering Vacation for people who start a string of TO’s.
  3. Removing the ‘Recently Timed-out’ flag from accounts as soon as they log back in.
  4. Applying the ‘Provisional Rank’ tag to anyone with high uncertainty. Perhaps annulled time-outs should still add to uncertainty.
  5. Other ideas that I have forgotten. Remind me and I will add them to this list.

I for one would feel happier about accepting the current regime if there was an automated system to identify users whose level of correspondence time-outs constitutes abuse of the site, instead of relying on dissatisfied opponents to make a complaint. Then the player could be warned or banned as the mods see fit.


WOW. That is a great point!

I totally agree!!

I don’t see how that point is new. I also don’t think the rule condones bad behavior. It is in fact impartial. Considering what we’ve seen is a lot of false or at best dubious accusations of intent, I must also doubt that the system caters any more to the “mathematics” than accusers wish to fulfill their desire to punish people who timed out against them.

Jesus. It’s one game. If you don’t want to play with people because you suspect they’re cheating you out of a win, put them on your blocklist and don’t play them again. If you want to be extra salty, put that blocklist on your profile and build a chain of distrust.

But seriously, in dubio pro reo.

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I didn’t say it was new, I only acknowledged it as good, which I surely had not done before (unless I forgot :slight_smile: )

And it wasn’t a point about the rule per se, but about the psychology of it.

It’s bit like “hard on drugs”. These rules exist to send a message… we currently have an “easy on timeout” rule. That sends a message.