Fair chances on winning a game regardless of (big) differences in ranks **** POLL

I really don’t understand why AST’s (automatic sidewide tournaments) are played without a handicap.
What happens is that DDKs register, are ranked against a SDK and decide not to play (but not resign from the tournament). It happens so often that the first round is a no show.
I understand that DDK are not interested in playing an opponent who is 10-15 or more kyus stronger than they are. They are massacred and function as canon fodder. That is no fun. It is completely unfair. Every player (regardless of rank) likes to have a fair chance on winning a game.
Why does the OGS community allow this?
What do you think about it?

Therefor a poll to see what we want.
Please choose only one option!

  • Yes, I would like to have a fair chance in winning a game and will accept a handicap.
  • No, it is good the way it is. No handicap for me.
  • No opinion.

0 voters


I think we should be able to choose wether we have handicap or not.

Edit: Oh I thought you meant the automatch. I think some should be handicap and some shouldn’t. I don’t do those tournaments too much so I don’t really know.


Not all the AST’s should be handicap.
There should be a choice to make.
Now the choice is: participate or don’t participate.
I would like an extra option: handicap.
Let’s give the DDKs who are brave enough to enter in an AST at least a fair chance.
With a no handicap policy you discourage the DDK to enter tournaments and that is not a nice way to welcome players who have just started.


Why not have both AST’s with handicap and AST’s without handicap?


Agreed, as mentioned in previous post.

1 Like

I’m a ddk and I’m fine with joining AST’s with sdk’s but others might not.


I’ve played in a few of the live ASTs (not much of a correspondence player), and I far prefer it to not have a handicap. Tournaments are fundamentally a test of skill, and the winner of a tournament should get their title because they were the best player, not because they had 9 handicap stones against the best player. I don’t need to win a tournament to enjoy myself; I’m fine playing some exciting games against stronger players and seeing how high I can make it. The reality of tournaments in any arena is that most players are underdogs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d be fine with the existence of explicitly labeled handicap tournaments, but they should be a variation, not the default.


Handicap blows. It devalues the result of the game.

If you’re having trouble winning in combat, try getting better at the game / Lang Zi

Tournaments need a complete overhaul anyway.


I haven’t played an AST since I was deep, deep in DDK. Personally I would have liked to have had at least some handicap tournaments, because I wanted a feasible chance to win one. I enjoyed getting a bronze medal even when I knew it was only because a few stronger players had needed to abandon the event…

If there aren’t going to be any handicap tournaments, it’d be nice to have DDK-only tournaments. It’s attractive as, say, a 16k to have a winning chance.


I don’t see why we can’t have both handicap and non-handicap tournaments. I often used to enjoy giving high handicap as White, because it’s somewhat of a different game and a break from the norm.


I think this is fine if winning the AST’s meant something. Let me explain, you could have won an AST, being the best out of like 20 players, Swiss, elimination, Double elimination etc, winning lots of games. You can also win an AST because half (or all of) the people timed out and didn’t play a move even and other just resigned because there’s a substantial rank difference. (Case in point, I have a trophy and only one game was actually played in this tourney https://online-go.com/tournament/64844, the rest were timeouts on the first move of one of the colours)

So having an AST trophy doesn’t have a well defined meaning, you’d have to click into the tournament to see what happened. Plus there’s a glitch where it’s been doubling the trophies too.

It’s just another way to play the game. Maybe we could all complain that komi (standard 6.5/7.5 or reverse komi for instance) “devalues the result of the game”.

There all just ways to make the game fair and enjoyable to some people at the end of the day.


Off-topic here, there’s a story I always like to tell.

In England, there’s one tournament which has an especially… vigorous handicap policy. A couple of years ago I finally decided to play my first tournament – I was 9k OGS, but following official BGA advice I entered as 11k. Well, it turned out that a lot of weak DDK players had arrived by coach from a school club, and someone needed to play against them…

And thus, my very first three face-to-face Go games were, in order:

  1. Giving seven stones
  2. Giving nine stones
  3. Giving nine stones and 135 reverse komi!

I was pleasantly amused by the fact that, after winning the seven-stone game, I was humbled when my opponent had to completely take control of the scoring – since I’d only ever played online, I was totally hopeless :smiley:


Counterpoint, a handicap tournament would then be decided by who plays the best in those games, after putting everyone on equal footing. I think that’s an equally valid competitive measure.

That being said, I’d definitely support having both.


Well, we agree at least over something :smile:

If you put everyone on perfect “equal footing” as you say then the result is random, dependent more on the wind on Mars than on skill. So it’s not a valid competitive measure.

In real life of course handicap isn’t absolutely perfect so biggest and luckiest sandbagger wins.

There’re systems to combat it. For example, I don’t know how it’s called in English but in Russian it’s ФОРС. Given K handicap stones. White gets 20+K points for win and 10+K points for loss, and black 20-K and 10-K.


This system works fine for the Nijmeegse Go Club.

Absolutely not. You have to realize that you will play better in some games than in others. We’re not AIs, and our skill wobbles constantly. Thus, a handicap tournament that puts everyone on equal starting footing is not random. It’s a measure of how well you’re playing those games. It will come down to who is more focused, who prioritizes the right things, and who can see the blunders coming before they make them, rather than a virtually guaranteed outcome for most games due to disparate skill.


I am not against having handicap system in one of the AST but when a overhaul would happen, it will be very low in my list of priorities.

There are times to discover to study to relax… And there are tournaments where you have to settle and fix what you are. Handicap is not a part of this.

Whatever I like to have opportunities to play stronger and weaker, not always my group of strength.

Perfect handicap gives you 50% chance to win, hehe, get it. If I win, you may say that I was prioritizing the right things or whatever that allowed me to make better moves. But essentially it was random chance or luck. E.g. the light was hitting top-right corner in a way that made me think of that joseki that gave me better fighting. Or I’ve eaten oreo just at the right time. I played better moves, yeah, since they led me to victory but not because of my inner kernel, I just got lucky.

Imagine we’re having a contest of flipping perfect coin to get more heads. Someone is gonna get more heads, you could say that they were “more focused”. But that’s not really true.

Ideally your competition should give statistically no different result than the coin flipping contest. Can you really call it a valid competitive measure if it’s no different from flipping coins.


A handicap tournament would give the biggest advantage to people that have the least accurately assigned handicap. That seems like a poor measure for deciding who wins a tournament. That’s especially true for a rating system as volatile as the one OGS uses: all of the study in the world wouldn’t give you nearly the advantage in a tournament with handicap that mass resigning a bunch of losing correspondence games immediately prior to joining would. On the flip side, a player who signs up for a tournament while they’re on a hot streak and then regresses 2-3 stones to their mean rating will have a miserable time.