Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Roger de Coverly
Posts: 19271
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:32 pm

Which is the worse insult? Accuse someone of grade manipulation or excuse their appalling moves by noting their status as a weak player?

I'm in two minds on this. There are or have been players who are widely suspected, possibly unfairly, of manipulating their grades to retain eligibility for grade restricted sections. Against that when presumably seeking to win or draw, they betray their lack of knowledge by failing to grasp in a post mortem why they lost a particular position. In other words they try to excuse their losses by suggesting they weren't really trying.

Here and there, organisers will publish games even from the restricted grading sections. It can be amazing how much misfortune might befall an otherwise successful player.

User avatar
Joey Stewart
Posts: 1224
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:35 pm
Location: All Of Them
Contact:

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Joey Stewart » Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:38 am

I wouldnt have thought this would be a problem so close to your heart, Roger, since you have probably been playing in open sections for several decades and would not encounter such players on a regular basis.

Regarding post mortems, I find that the quality of chess is generally much lower there anyway, since it is a no consequence environment where all sorts of speculative sacrifices and ill conceived plans are able to be bashed out without any great thought given.

But...... there are definitely sandbaggers who plague the lower sections in the chess tournament world, and regular tournament organisers need to be vigilant to prevent them repeatedly winning - the obvious solution is an enforced promotion to a higher section for a previous winner.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 8272
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:44 am

Yup.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Brian Towers
Posts: 1255
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:23 pm

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Brian Towers » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:47 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:Which is the worse insult? Accuse someone of grade manipulation or excuse their appalling moves by noting their status as a weak player?
What you hypothesise would be doubtful behaviour by one individual. What if something equally egregious were done by a club? So, the club chairman, league team captain (possibly the same person) conspire to do something similar?

Let me set the scene. A gentleman in his 70' s (about 75 I would guess) walks into your club. He would like to play chess. He probably hasn't played for at least 20 years but when he did his BCF grading was roundabout 190. You put him on board 5 (bottom board) for your B team where the top board is about 130. Over a period of several months he plays a total of 6 matches between board 3 and 5 and obviously wins them all. The players on his team on the board immediately above him in the 6 matches had grades (in the July 2015 list) - 110, 139, 122, 117, 66, 110. His opponents had grades of 98, 66, 20, 58, 140, 100. The club has been warned that they risk defaults for their behaviour.

The club is Hetton Lyons. The player is George Whitfield, my old maths teacher. I haven't seen him since 1974. People change a lot in 42 years but I cannot imagine my old maths teacher being content to go out and play serious chess on a regular basis against sub 100 opposition. My grading isn't much changed from what it was when he used to thrash me (over the chessboard, I hasten to add, although the cane was still in use in the school at the time) and I certainly wouldn't be happy in his position.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 19271
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:01 am

Brian Towers wrote: Let me set the scene. A gentleman in his 70' s (about 75 I would guess) walks into your club. He would like to play chess. He probably hasn't played for at least 20 years but when he did his BCF grading was roundabout 190. You put him on board 5 (bottom board) for your B team where the top board is about 130.
I wouldn't. Either in the middle of the first team, or board 1 for the seconds. Twenty years ago is no time and such a player would still have an inactive BCF grade. Someone who was a top player 40 years ago may well still be good value today. Detail theory has changed, I wouldn't be sure that "overview" theory has.

Ian Thompson
Posts: 2680
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:31 pm
Location: Awbridge, Hampshire

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Ian Thompson » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:27 am

Brian Towers wrote:Let me set the scene. A gentleman in his 70' s (about 75 I would guess) walks into your club. He would like to play chess. He probably hasn't played for at least 20 years but when he did his BCF grading was roundabout 190. You put him on board 5 (bottom board) for your B team where the top board is about 130. Over a period of several months he plays a total of 6 matches between board 3 and 5 and obviously wins them all. The players on his team on the board immediately above him in the 6 matches had grades (in the July 2015 list) - 110, 139, 122, 117, 66, 110. His opponents had grades of 98, 66, 20, 58, 140, 100
I knew someone similar to this a few years ago, but only in his late 60's, so slightly younger. His first published grade after resuming playing was 132. He then got it into the low 140s and remained at this level for the next 10 years (playing league/county chess only, so no question of deliberately keeping his grade low). He then dropped down about 10 points per year for the next 3 years.

On the other hand, I know someone else with a similarly long break from playing who was a 200-210 player when he stopped playing and came back in at 190 in his early 60's, and since then has been 195-210 (now in his late 60's).

I think it's impossible to generalise on how good an older player will be after a very long layoff. It varies enormously from one player to another.

User avatar
Joey Stewart
Posts: 1224
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:35 pm
Location: All Of Them
Contact:

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Joey Stewart » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:26 am

Brian Towers wrote: What you hypothesise would be doubtful behaviour by one individual. What if something equally egregious were done by a club? So, the club chairman, league team captain (possibly the same person) conspire to do something similar?

Let me set the scene. A gentleman in his 70' s (about 75 I would guess) walks into your club. He would like to play chess. He probably hasn't played for at least 20 years but when he did his BCF grading was roundabout 190. You put him on board 5 (bottom board) for your B team where the top board is about 130. Over a period of several months he plays a total of 6 matches between board 3 and 5 and obviously wins them all. The players on his team on the board immediately above him in the 6 matches had grades (in the July 2015 list) - 110, 139, 122, 117, 66, 110. His opponents had grades of 98, 66, 20, 58, 140, 100. The club has been warned that they risk defaults for their behaviour.

The club is Hetton Lyons. The player is George Whitfield, my old maths teacher. I haven't seen him since 1974. People change a lot in 42 years but I cannot imagine my old maths teacher being content to go out and play serious chess on a regular basis against sub 100 opposition. My grading isn't much changed from what it was when he used to thrash me (over the chessboard, I hasten to add, although the cane was still in use in the school at the time) and I certainly wouldn't be happy in his position.
I dont think that this Mr Whitfield is anywhere near the same league as the repeat offenders, winning congress after congress while losing every other game they play to keep their grade low, the club could have started him out low to find out his standard (or perhaps did not have your knowledge of who he was).

The six month rating has proven him competent so I am sure he will now be moved up the board order to bigger and better things - if anything, the team was handicapping itself by keeping him so low as they could have pushed all the rest of their guys down a board and still had him scoring well at the top.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

MartinCarpenter
Posts: 2690
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 10:58 am

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by MartinCarpenter » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:42 am

There's a +-10 pt rule in Durham, so presumably due to go up as sane.

Think everyone tends to be quite conservative when people are coming back off a big break anyway I think. They'll inevitably be rusty vs their previous strength for at least a bit and you don't want to dent their confidence.

Brian Towers
Posts: 1255
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:23 pm

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Brian Towers » Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:36 am

Joey Stewart wrote:I don't think that this Mr Whitfield is anywhere near the same league as the repeat offenders, winning congress after congress while losing every other game they play to keep their grade low
Personally I don't think Mr Whitfield is any kind of offender at all. As a player you may have some minimal input into what board you play on but at the end of the day it's not your whinging that counts it's the captain's decision. I have to admit I posted in this thread partly just to be controversial.

Although I think Hetton Lyons have been warned I think that warning was probably also inappropriate, albeit according to league rules. The warning was probably something along the lines of "Stop being naughty boys playing players grossly out of playing strength order" when something like "Stop being stupid plonkers by playing your strongest player on bottom board" would have been more to the point.

The point is that if you're going to "cheat" on board order then the best strategy is probably something like put your weakest player on board 1 and move everybody else down one board, particularly for home matches where you get black on odd boards. Doing the opposite, putting your strongest player on bottom board and moving everybody else up a board is just dumb, dumb, dumb!
Joey Stewart wrote:the club could have started him out low to find out his standard (or perhaps did not have your knowledge of who he was).
I've still not seen my old maths teacher in something like 42 years. It was other people (plural) who told me he was who I thought he was when I saw his results. There is another regular Hetton Lyons club player, Tony Mezzo, who knows George from the old days. Tony and I were teammates for Sunderland YMCA 2 back in about 1971. For many years he had a mini garden centre shop half a dozen doors down from my parents old house and in 1998 he did the flowers for my mum's funeral. Short, round and very affable, it's inconceivable that he wouldn't have greeted George warmly and told the club officials they had a new star player on their hands.

Strangely enough they did give Mr Whitfield a run out in the A team in the A league on board 5 with a 110 on board 4 just above him a couple of weeks before Christmas. They got hammered 4-1. George was the one who won. A few days later he was back playing on board 5 for the B team again. This Monday, just 2 or 3 days before the latest gradings came out, he was promoted to board 3 for the B team playing behind a couple of 130's on boards 1 and 2. He won, of course, against somebody graded 105 in the old list, 99 in the new. His teammates on 1 and 2 drew with a 118 and a 127, so they got 2/3 on the top 3 boards. A sensible board order could easily have seen that become 2.5/3 or even 3/3 in a match which they actually lost 2-3! Just dumb!
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

User avatar
Joey Stewart
Posts: 1224
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:35 pm
Location: All Of Them
Contact:

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Joey Stewart » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:10 pm

Brian Towers wrote:
The point is that if you're going to "cheat" on board order then the best strategy is probably something like put your weakest player on board 1 and move everybody else down one board, particularly for home matches where you get black on odd boards. Doing the opposite, putting your strongest player on bottom board and moving everybody else up a board is just dumb, dumb, dumb!

It is possible to win every match with this tactic (though, through the course of the match, it will be pretty obvious what you are doing).
Board 1 (white) plays the opening move of the opponents board 2
Board 2( Black) returns the first move of the opponents board 1

If you play through the whole game this way, you are guaranteed a point as it will either be win/loss or draw/draw.

Repeat on board 3/4 and let board 5 smash the opponent to bits and you have yourself a won match, 3- 2, every time......
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

User avatar
Michael Farthing
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:28 pm
Location: Morecambe, Europe

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Michael Farthing » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:00 pm

Yes, perpetrated in a famous simultaneous display by a nobody against a group of titled players I believe.
The way to defeat it is to slow the game down until both boards are in time trouble. The following player has to be very prompt to move if s(he) is not to garnish a fatal time disadvantage - no toilet or smoke breaks are possible!

Ian Thompson
Posts: 2680
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:31 pm
Location: Awbridge, Hampshire

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Ian Thompson » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:51 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:Yes, perpetrated in a famous simultaneous display by a nobody against a group of titled players I believe.
You mean this one - http://en.chessbase.com/post/derren-bro ... th-feeling?

Brian Towers
Posts: 1255
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:23 pm

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:02 am

Joey Stewart wrote:It is possible to win every match with this tactic (though, through the course of the match, it will be pretty obvious what you are doing).
Board 1 (white) plays the opening move of the opponents board 2
Board 2( Black) returns the first move of the opponents board 1

If you play through the whole game this way, you are guaranteed a point as it will either be win/loss or draw/draw.

Repeat on board 3/4 and let board 5 smash the opponent to bits and you have yourself a won match, 3- 2, every time......
You're wrong.

Something similar has been tried before. I believe Stewart Reuben knows the full details. Many years ago an English junior side was playing a weaker foreign side. The foreigners didn't mess with the board order but they did copy moves. This was verified by one of the English players deliberately dropping a knight which action was dutifully copied! The solution was to stop playing until there was a minute left on the clocks and then blitz the opposition. The good guys ended up winning.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

User avatar
Jon Mahony
Posts: 610
Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:47 pm
Location: Leeds
Contact:

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Jon Mahony » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:21 am

Ian Thompson wrote:
Michael Farthing wrote:Yes, perpetrated in a famous simultaneous display by a nobody against a group of titled players I believe.
You mean this one - http://en.chessbase.com/post/derren-bro ... th-feeling?
I saw that on Youtube recently, I don’t think that is what is been talked about here though. Basically what Mr Brown did was to play games (alternate colours) against these players, and copy the moves of the games of the white game on the black board next door, so the strong players were effectively playing each other (if that makes any sense) that was how he was able to draw with / beat much stronger players, because he wasn’t playing them at all. To complete the trick he legitimately won the last game against the weakest bottom board.
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

User avatar
Gavin Strachan
Posts: 676
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 10:06 am
Contact:

Re: Grading Cheat or Patzer?

Post by Gavin Strachan » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:28 pm

I'm not wholly convinced by this argument of people lowering their grade to be able to enter graded sections. The whole concept is fundamentally flawed.
  • 1. Firstly graded sections of tournaments can be quite varied in how they are broken down from tournament to tournament ie one maybe u170 whilst another u160
    2. When you play in a congress you are likely to play opponents who are just undergraded. (juniors, people who had a long break from chess, bad season the year before, etc)
    3. The amount of prize money available to win in graded sections does not make it financially attractive to deliberately do this. You would have to play and win a lot of first prizes and even then you could hardly live off it after you take away the cost of entering, travelling, food, accommodation.
    4. You have to have a deliberately bad period of chess to lower your grade which is not exactly fun!
Last year I played a few rapids and won prize money amounting to around £83 having had several shared prizes. Winning money in chess is nice but I get more pleasure from playing well and winning games.

In terms of playing someone who was high graded and now no grade v lower graded players: It must be a bit lame for a good player to play week in week out patzers.

Post Reply