Proposition: Loss by timeout in correspondence games should not affect rank

If we’re talking about how to fight sandbaggers… Why not just flag them in a way visible to others and the system instead of disallowing them to sandbag?

I have been the victim of opponent’s timeouts without an improvement in my rank more times than I can describe. For most, I am winning and many moves 100-200 into the game. As it is correspondence, I have invested many days/weeks into the game. And yet, after all that effort, my opponent just lets the clock run out and my rating does not change.

Those that claim it’s “infrequent”, or that “it’ll all work out in the end on ratings averages”, clearly have not been repeatedly victimized by the play-and-ditch players in this no-consequence world. Given that better ranked Go players are less likely to do this volitionally, you may not have seen this occur; in my double digit kyu world, where I play approx ten to fifteen correspondence games simultaneously, it happens every 7-10 Days. So, it’s happening to me 35-50 times a year, or 3-4 times per month.

I think timeouts are a blight on OGS and all go servers. I think not penalizing the timeout loser for all games in which they time out leaves no true penalty for abandoning a simultaneous stack of losing games. Not providing a winning opponent—that’s what the OGS message says, “You have won by timeout”—who has invested great time (days to weeks) and concentration in a game any ratings boost is counterintuitive and unfair. I completely agree with Green As Jade’s and a few others’ posts above.

If I’m at an AGA live game, and my opponent at any time just decides to cross his arms and let his clock run out, do both our ratings not change? Do our places in the tournament not change?


You are missing the point. Online, there are other factors than just your opponent’s own will that can lead to a timeout.

If you played ranked games and your opponent’s strength is similar or higher than yours, this should not happen. Do you have an example?

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San Diego…the other factors, as stated by Green As Jade above, should have been taken into account before agreeing to the game. For instance, if one’s Internet is prone to cut out, don’t play long correspondence games. You or loved one becomes ill…that’s why we have vacations and pauses in games. Am I missing a situation or “other factor”, San Diego? Please do reply to this question as there may be scenarios I am missing.

The most recent example for me is today, and you are free to look at the game on OGS under my name. My rating did not change, it’s still 17.7. I do not know how to “prove it” to you if you do not take my word and those of the others affected by it above. And, also, Anorak (site owner) chatted to me that this is how timeout games in current system are handled, no further explanation. Now, if we can move past the “proving it” stage to acceptance that it is the way time outs are handled, maybe we can get on with finding a better system or solution. I’m all ears, San Diego. Thank you
in advance.

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Obviously we don’t have the same priorities… In case of family emergency, connecting to OGS is not going to be my first thought.

Then we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how this impacted your ranking.

Also, a side note: it seems that your game settings don’t include any buffer. If instead you used for example 3 days base time + 1.5 day per move, that would definitely help with timeouts.

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There are not as many personal emergencies as there are occurrences of timing out on OGS by, what, maybe a thousandfold.
And, frankly, if one has an emergency and doesn’t think of OGS, they likely would not be perturbed that they got a ratings ding for the games they were playing and timed out in because of that dire and rare emergency.

As far as schooling me on how to set up my correspondence games, that has zero to do with the conversation at hand. The games are solid, and are accepted by both parties before the game. So, the subject of this thread —timeouts without consequence—are NOT a factor of the agreement between players, it’s a factor of OGS policy that may require revision, hence the discussion started by another concerned member.


@Cool1 again, your initial assumption that timeouts do not count is wrong. If you have an example that proves otherwise - so clearly NOT a game played today - then I’d recommend to report it as a bug.

Unfortunately that’s exactly the kind of argument used by people that trick others into games they can easily win by timeout (and that DO affect the ranking). I don’t mean to school you, just allow me to have an opinion that might be different from yours.

Hello everyone on this thread. I have located OGS’s statement during the rankings change regarding the issue of this thread. “Players who timeout of a correspondence game will be flagged. Their ratings will be adjusted normally for the first timeout, however if they timeout of any more correspondence games while the flag is set we will no longer ding their rating, protecting them and the system from mass timeouts. Players with this flag set will not be able to join correspondence tournaments or ladders until they clear the flag by completing a ranked correspondence game over the course of at least two days with some kind player willing to give them another chance.”

So, I ask the earlier posters on this thread (Green As Jade, BHydden, etc.), why would this policy not allow the winner of the timeout to still have their score adjusted accurately? Someone posted above in this thread that solution, which seems fair given that that individual has invested great time and effort in the game and in some cases was winning, and perhaps resoundingly.

BHydden made a great point in the post above about not counting wins and losses based on timeout can have more of an effect on ratings overall than simply counting them.

Note: even if one argues that giving the opponents a winners bump in their kyu rating would affect the overall ratings system, the counter argument is that some of those opponents were winning, some losing, so the affect in the system is actually, on average, minimal. And if all timeouts were scored accurately in terms of kyu effect, the overall effect on scores would be mitigated, on average.


I know for a fact, based on my own experience, that winning by timeout in a correspondence game does count. I recently ranked up based on two timeout correspondence games. One of those, the important one (because my opponent was stronger than me), certainly counted even though my opponent had numerous recent timeouts in other correspondence games (because she unaccountably vanished from OGS).

One can’t always expect an immediate change after a win (or a loss). I don’t know the technical calculations involved, but smaller boards, for example, count less than 19x19. So it may take several 9x9 wins to rank up. Similarly, the effect on one’s rank depends on the difference in rank with one’s opponent. Hence, winning against someone several ranks lower counts far less than winning against someone several ranks higher. Depending on the exact circumstances, it might take a number of games to rank up.


Just curious: why did we abandon the idea of timeout grace (giving the player an option to allow the opponent to time out without penalties)? It seems to me that this would be a minor complication that would only really affect those who wish to give this to their opponents.

Since we’re all divided on the issue, would it not be best to give the one who won the game via time out to choose?


Conrad…did you read the prior comment from me that had the rule from OGS? Re-read it and it might become clear, if not I’ll explain it to you. The first timeout in that session of games COUNTS. Normally, people will time out of one game. However, if they time out on a block of games at once. I.e. each game need not end at the same time, just a succession of games, for example, say they’re playing ten games at once and eventually time out of them all…the first one counts and the others DO NOT COUNT. So, nine game opponents, in this example, would not have a win counted in their rating, even if they were clearly ahead and have invested a few weeks into the game at 300 moves.

Don’t truly see why there are repeated comments in disbelief (especially since I posted the OGS rule; chatted chat thread to Anorek about it and he explained the policy exactly as it’s written, but mentioned that it is still being discussed on his level; and others have posted similar experiences) rather than simply commenting the virtues, drawbacks, and alternatives to the subject at hand. Thanks.


MeKriff, That’s a superb idea. The timeout games all count in the ratings for the winner and the loser unless the winner decides not to count them, based on the circumstances of that game and that opponent.

Perhaps a winning player should always be able to not count a game (no bump up for them, no bump down for loser) if they decide to do so after the fact, for this or any other reason, thus a) not bothering a mod to make every individual adjustment, and b) not needing to create a separate situational “button” for all situations like this…just one button perhaps in the scoring phase screen that can be used by the winner for every game. Thoughts?


Yes, I read it, but you seem not to have read my first paragraph. I don’t care what some alleged policy says, or what some hearsay statement says. I ranked up on a timeout correspondence game with Claudia ( That game, which counted, came near the end of a block of 20 games that she timed out of, because she has disappeared from participation in OGS. That’s a fact. Interpret it as you please…


Simultaneous games, Conrad, she must be playing them simultaneously, not in succession. Please don’t ruin the thread. If you want me to say okay, you’re the exception to the rule, so be it. Others have had the experience, so please, you win, now only post if you have some ideas for the rest of us. Thanks apppreciated. Happy holidays, Conrad.

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I’m not sold on always (since it does assist sandbagging) but it would make things simple.

Just to confirm what Cool1 has said: as I understand it, the rules are still the same - if you time out a batch of games, only the first one to time out counts against you.

If this has changed, or is wrong understanding, it would be great to have someone who really knows say so.

Aassuming it is the case, what it means that you will get rank from some games that time out, but if your opponent timed out a bunch and you were one of the bunch, then they probably escaped from your game.

Personally, I think this stinks: it is so wide open to abuse. It’s quite easy to see how to line up the timing of play of all the games you are playing so that all the ones you’re losing time out at the same time. If you make the first one to time out the one you’re playing against a high ranked person, then you lose nothing.

This would be especially attractive to tournament players, who have games going in batches as a result of that.

As I understand it, the argument is that if the person timing out did so due to some real life event that caused them to unfortunately not be able to play, then the impact of timing out a bunch of games is unfairly high on them.

Personally, I think that if real life is impacting in this way, then the least of your worries is whether your ranking took a hit from timed out games. The impact of this maybe happening occasionally to someone does not seem to balance the certain chance that people can use this to cheat.

My observation is that so far, the people running OGS don’t share this view of the compromise: decisions on OGS policy tend to favour “benefit of the doubt for someone who was affected by real life” over “but this lets people cheat”.

Another argument I’ve read for not ranking a bunch of timed out games is that it might put “the whole ranking system out of balance” due to that person losing to people they otherwise would not have.

This is hogwash. If the ranking system were so fragile that the occasional event like this “puts it out of balance” then it is a bad ranking system. But actually, the only effect is that a number of people get one game as a victory that they might not otherwise. This happens for other reasons routinely - games time out individually for “real live events” and they count. The very occasional “bunch of them” is in the noise.

Personally, the rest of the benefits of OGS over other sites outweigh this irritation, but I certainly don’t like it.



Mekriff, how does having the winner have the option of not counting a game assist sandbagging?

Thinking through this, I feel like that comment of mine was baseless and stupid… If anything it makes sandbagging harder… Although not much so…

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The difference is, a losing player might get lazy and let a game time out, while a player who’s winning might time out by accident.

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