Passing on the second move

I have now encountered several players who take standard games and then try and pass on the second move to artificially create a handicap game without any discussion or warning. I feel strongly this is very rude—it circumvents the ruleset they agreed to and it feels patronizing in a way that an agreed to handicap game does not. I understand it’s technically legal under the mechanics of the site and that players can technically pass at will, but I think it violates the spirit of taking a non-handicapped game. I usually handle it by just cancelling the game and trying to find one with the ruleset I posted in the first place, but I was wondering if there was a community consensus about 1) if it is rude and 2) how it should be handled


I would find that rude.


I think it’s rude, and you’re handling it in the right way.

I don’t think it violates any policies on its own, but given that the move is clearly suboptimal, you might be able to make a case for sandbagging especially if they are doing it selectively.


What you are describing is known as a manual handicap. It is not explicitly prohibited by the TOS, but in the past the moderators discouraged that practice because it distorts the ranking system. In particular, that has been used by rank-manipulating sandbaggers to get more “bang for the buck” when they throw a game. With a manual handicap, the loss to a weaker player hurts their rank more than it would with an auto-handicap.

I don’t know what the current state of mod policy is on this subject, however.


The situation doesn’t come up often (thankfully). There may end up being some internal discussion on how exactly to deal with the situation, but certainly this is not behaviour we would want to encourage.


Given that this behaviour is discouraged, would it be a good idea to disable the “Pass” button early in the game?


Sometimes people agree to pass.

For example, in open challenges, a couple dans have offered to pass for a more interesting game.

Sometimes we even forget to set handicap beforehand.


It’s certainly not something I’ve seen happen a lot! It just stands out every time, and I couldn’t find a forum topic on it

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Well you can pass too maybe? Will stay fair game.

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Might lose komi if it switches players after scoring phase (is that possible with OGS implementation?)

Bit lazy to experiment what would be the result of a empty multiple pass game on OGS.

If the first two moves were passes, I expect it would go to scoring, white would win on komi, and the game would be canceled due to having fewer than six moves.


I have encountered the opposite - in a handicap game, my opponent who was black wanted to play an even game and passed the placement of the handicap stones.

I vaguely remember asking about it in chat and them not realizing handicap was allowed in their automatch settings before starting.

We ended up playing an amicable even game without komi.


FWIW, in a ranked game, I personally have a much more hard-line opinion on this: it’s sandbagging.

In general, players are not entitled to “agree to pass” in a ranked game: it’s sandbagging.

The purpose of the mechanic of passing is “to indicate that the game is over”, not to “give the opponent an improved opportunity to compete”.

Of course, if it’s glaringly obvious who is going to win anyhow, like a DDK vs Dan game, then no-one really cares… as long as the Dan actually does win.

But if the result was a win of a DDK against a Dan, then we very much do care: that game needs to be annulled.

The ranking system understands handicaps: if you want a handicapped game, that’s the way to do it.

I tend to agree that allowing “pass” in the early part of a game is a curious mechanic … it’s probably only like that because “otherwise, when do we turn it on?”


I think the system prevents these from happening anyway. Point still stands for <9 stone rank differences though! But it gets a little hard to say who should have won since the percentages might be 75%:25% instead of 99.99%:0.01%

That’s why rank-manipulation sandbagging is so hard to determine. However, when someone repeats the same pattern over and over, no reasonable doubt remains. Fortunately, most rank manipulators don’t want to take the time to artfully lose a game.


Thats an interesting clarification, thought the point was somewhat rhetorical … if I was speaking more literally, I’d have said “If the result of a win of a very weak player given pass-handicaps by a very strong one is that the weak player wins then the game needs to be annulled”.

One could argue “actually, Dans therefore are allowed to give passes to DDKs”, but personally I wouldn’t support that, because it’s just a confusing complication. If you want to do that, play unranked.

It’s much simpler to say that “sandbagging is not allowed, please play within the rules and the spirit of the game, and so that the outcome reflects the skills of the players” - for ranked games.

Is the OGS networking code going to get banned for making others sandbag due to the error submitting move bug? I’d be playing even games (because that’s OGS default, and the OGS culture is generally to not like handicaps so it was much easier to get an even than handi game) against weaker players, winning massively, and then lose on time due to that bug…

Noted: you think that the error handling can be improved, and you want us to be aware that you feel forced to play even games. I’m not really sure how that is on topic here.

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Still a pity that the goban doesn’t fill the whole screen even in zen mode
An empty board after passing would be much more pretty.