Monday, December 12, 2005

This Week in Go: A Series of Unfortunate Events

My prediction last week that my Go rating would drop to 25 kyu before it hit 23 kyu came to pass. (Well at least the part about 25 kyu.) After I typed that, I lost six games in a row, for a total losing streak of seven. (The graph above represents the month of December to date.)

I started out by losing an even game to an American 21 kyu player. Because of the difference in rating, that didn't hurt me too much. Then I lost a 5-handicap game to a Dutch 15-kyu player. The handicap was not enough to account for the difference in ratings, so again, I lost less than 20% of a kyu. I dropped a 13x13 game to Ben. The handicap I had given him (based on our ratings at the time the game started) was probably too high -- I'm not that much better than him. The smaller board kept the ratings bleeding to a minimum.

I had started a bunch of games when I headed to India -- I needed something to pass the time. The first of those that finished was an even game I lost to a Swedish 21-kyu player. Again, the rating difference kept the loss to 20% of a kyu. The next loss -- a 3-handicap game to Ben -- hurt the most. I was up by around 50 points near the end of the game. If I had just played r10 with move 202 (instead of passing), I would have won easily. Instead, I lost by 28. Sigh. I then lost again to the aforementioned American 21 kyu (now a 20 kyu). The widening gap led to a loss of only 7% of a kyu for this even game.

The second "Indian game" that concluded was a 3-handicap game against a Japanese 27 kyu. At this point, the ratings difference was less than 2 kyu -- yet I had given him 3 stones. Thanks to a late invasion, I won by only 2 points! My reward was a whopping 58% of a kyu -- that uptick you see at the end of the graph.

My experience represents a nice feature of the rating system. In some sense, it's self-correcting. A 20 kyu who loses 10 even games to 20 kyu won't find himself dropped by the same amount each time. After a while, he'll drop to 21 kyu, 22 kyu, and the rating system will see these as reasonable losses and punish him less.

I have a few upcoming games I know I will win, and a few I know I will lose...so I don't know what to expect, except more volatility!
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