Strong unranked players fooling others

There are a number of quite strong players who obviously intentionally never play ranked games to fool weaker players in games with them. People with question mark rank and names like “20k in one week” :smiley: who win each an every game even against single kyu players.
I know them by now and recognize them (and obviously ignore their game requests).
One way could be to show a warning (like the “unusual komi” warning) next to their advertised games, if they played more than x games where the inofficial rank (of unranked games) is more than y ranks apart from their listed rank.


When you notice such cases of apparent sandbagging or griefing, please report them to the moderators.


Users are allowed to play only unranked games if they wish. Other users are allowed to check out their profile page and cancel a game if they don’t like what they see.


I think a broader point need to be made.

If you play “UNRANKED”…


It seems so obvious, but it bears repeating, because this comes up from time to time.

If you are playing “unranked” you a SPECIFICALLY CHOSING TO SAY

  • “I don’t care about the rank of my opponent”.

Often people think that playing unranked means they are saying “I don’t want this game to affect my rank”.

And of course that it is true, but it is not the only thing it means. The whole point of the ranking system and ranked games is so we can find opponents of the skill that we want to play.

Why would we even bother with this, if unranked games delivered this result?

They do not.

So there is absolutely no point in complaining about the skill of players you encounter in unranked games. You have to ignore the rank of people who play unranked games. And they have to ignore yours.


I’ve reported one such case of this kind of sandbagging through only playing unranked games, and I was told that the moderation team was powerless to do anything about it, although the practice was considered frowned upon.


It’s not something everyone has necessarily thought through.

However “powerless to do anything about it” makes it sound like there is something to be done, and “frowned upon” seems rather futile, even if the moderator concerned frowns at it.

Just think about it:

  • I want to play games unranked… OK, we have unranked games.
  • I don’t want you to force me to play ranked games… OK, we don’t force anyone to play ranked games
  • I want my opponent’s rank in this unranked game to tell me their skill: OK, please tell me how to achieve that without forcing them to play ranked games…

If you can come up with a system where we don’t force anyone to play ranked games and we can tell you their skill, by all means suggest it.

Until then, complaining about it, and even frowning about it, is futile.


I feel that this chain of logic is quite an effort and not supported by the system.

I think it’s normal to expect that the rank displayed for them is reasonably accurate. There is a system of showing [?] for those who do not have such a rank.

If the system is that the rank displayed cannot be viewed as in any way accurate then display [?] for those who play mainly unranked. This would make it clearer that the logic you set out applies.

Interestingly, in theory this is what the system does. If someone doesn’t play ranked enough to have a valid rank, then their display returns to [?].

I don’t think that this is the problem that the OP was referring to, nor the usually-complained one.

The usual complaint is that “this [?] person who is playing unranked is really a strong player, that’s not fair:”.

This is the specific complaint that I was addressing.

If the person has a rank, then the uncertainty of that rank tells you how confident we are about that, and it would be reasonable to expect this to be indicative of the person’s rank even in an unranked game that they are playing.


There can be issues with rank. Some players manipulate their rank to appear weaker than they are (by intentionally throwing many games where they are winning). That behaviour (“sandbagging”) is not allowed on OGS. But this is not what the OP is about.

In this is case the complaint is about players with a [?] rank, playing unranked games while indicating they are beginners in their user name or profile, but who are clearly stronger than that.
The OP requests that OGS still maintains some “unofficial” rank for [?] players, based on results in their unranked games.

I agree with @GreenAsJade that this would defeat the purpose of unranked games.You can only reasonably expect properly ranked opponents when you play ranked games against players who also play ranked games.


I thought the scenario was that someone “plays” enough games to gets rank and then just plays unranked from that point.

Edit: rereading, I misunderstood the complaint and missed the part about “never play ranked games”


Rank uncertainty increases with time, if you don’t play games. It may be that this decay of certainty is not fast enough, but it is a thing (or is supposed to be).

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Does that mean you can go back to getting a [?] or does uncertainty just go up and up? I’ve never paid attention honestly but it sounds like there is already a solution!

I think you go back to [?] when your uncertainty hits the right level. A hard thing to test, but that’s AIUI.


You can still hold your opponent accountable for their rank even if you meet them in an unranked game, because they got that rank through ranked games and if it doesn’t reflect their skill level, that’s something to be concerned about.

What you could say instead is, one shouldn’t expect a certain skill level from people with “?” rank and one can check out their history before accepting their games (but this holds true for ranked games as well). Even then, if these people have handles like “20 kyu in a week” which would clearly be meant for luring in beginners, they should still be considered sandbaggers, for all intents and purposes.

So, I think this broader point only holds for “?” accounts and is true for both ranked and unranked. I am not at all convinced that playing an unranked game means anything other than “I don’t want this game to affect my rank”.

I agree with the OP that this is an issue on OGS. I ran into it several times myself as a beginner 3 years ago. If it still happens as often as to make people bothered, perhaps a solution regarding how to avoid it can be discussed. A queue color change or a warning for “?” accounts that are older than a month (or won 90% of their games) sounds reasonable. Making the site guidelines more visible/easily accessible, emphasizing the leeway towards “?” accounts and unranked games in them can work to some extent to manage the expectations of newbies. Moderators contacting the owners of such accounts and politely asking them to consider naming their games “teaching game” can work on a case-by-case basis. I should say that I think that any excuse (like botting or abusive chat or clear signs of them luring newbies) to warn/ban “?” accounts who hunt newbies should be taken. It would be even better if they were occasionally monitored for such behavior but that would take effort.

I hope this subject isn’t treated as a non-issue and these few predators who play tons of games stop being given this current extreme leeway because it not only annoys many people who foolishly accept their games but it also makes a bad reputation for “?” players in general, making it harder for actual newbie “?” players to get games.


I think finding suggestions how to improve the understanding of what is happening in unranked game is a good idea.

Making the winrate of [?] accounts very visible is a nice idea.


So if you know them, and you solved the problem ignoring them, why make this non issue am issue?

You may justify the request with the desire of helping the ”poor victims”, but I see not victims, but rather you trying to play police, but not making yourself the effort, instead forcing others to waste their time.

Previous comments provided fair solutions. And is simple, make your own challenges if you hate surprises. And who really want to see their real rank, can scroll the games and see what ranks they defeated. For a second I had the idea that premium account could have the option to see a parallel
ranking were unranked games are ranked too. But this is stupid, is just a waste of effort for an non issue.

Or we can assume that who chose to play against a players with no rank, is a sandbagger, since the new player obviously may be a beginner. And a sandbagged sandbagger will be really upset, and try to police the other pathetic sandbagger :slight_smile:

Sandbagging was discussed extensively and one of my answers is here, and I have nothing more to say about the subject.

But I have some other aspect to touch. Is about the person who does this. Why is he choosing to waste time with weaker opponents? Is there any satisfaction win winning when the opponents moves are lame? It is obvious that the person have some mental issues. ( similar to someone using bots to win the games)
I have a good friend with a similar problem. He is passionate, study a lot, kibitz a lot, even sponsors and promotes Go, but never plays. I confronted him, mocking him that he is afraid to lose, but he shy ed away deferring an answer. I let him be, did not insisted too much, but few times somehow we played some games, and I was almost to lose, even I had decades of competitive play.

accurate ranking is more problematic with face to face competitions, especially international. And there you pay money and waste time on travel. online you have several servers to choose from and a lot of players. you can make teams, organize competitions with players you know. so just asking for more accuracy for casual games is asking too much.

And I hope that you will see that is a non issue. I went at lengths above explaining.

And a newbie hard to get games? Bots are available, you get a rank in no time.Or you can chat and find partners and teachers, or just accept challenges til you find one with no lower rank restriction.

Predators? Rather poor souls with clear mental problems with nothing better to do. If you really think that they are such beasts that deserves punished, than you can lower at their level and accept their games and use AI to beat them. Or play really really bad, so cancel any feeling of winning. I fall sometimes in this stupid revenge when somebody with rank similar to mine plays absolute junk, with the hope that I make a mistake. Than, I serve the same medicine and play every single atari in their territory. But is a plain stupidity from my part. .

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What if we just don’t display any ranks at all in the player card during an unranked game? Kind of like how the hide ratings and ranks setting works…

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it will only lead to people manually opening profiles of their opponents
people will not like having to do these additional clicks

I, for example, play as ranked 19x19 only because I wish for my overall rank to be based on 19x19 only,
I always playing unranked 9x9 and unranked 13x13 because I don’t wish to damage my rank, not because I don’t care about rank of my opponent, so no sense to forcibly hide it for everyone


Just thinking out loud (so don’t shoot me) and not censoring this process (yet) and probably frowned upon, but: could this problem be solved by randomly forcing unranked players to every once in a while play a ranked game and ranked players to play an unranked game?

Just my out of the box moment.
Feel free to ignore it.

It obviously is an issue, otherwise people, including yourself, would have just ignored my post. I cannot see why you a) first declare this a non-issue, then b) accuse me and then go on with a post that certainly took at least half an hour of time to compose. Not quite consistent.

But back to the more factual part of your message. I do share my time about equally between posting my own challenges and accepting other peoples’ ones. You often sit there for minutes with people not accepting your challenges, so it makes sense to accept the challenges of others. The ones that are suitable (goldilocks principle: Not too stong, not too weak) are usually gone while I am studying their profile. So my whole point was about making it clearer right away from the listing that they might be sandbaggers. And yes, there were decent solutions proposed in reaction to my pointless post.