cRatings on Yahoo Chess seem very weird--any insights?

I’ve been using Yahoo chess for 12 years now. Its rating system has changed several times, but over the past year things have really gotten strange.

Ratings seem to have descended gradually and recently just plain crashed. I don’t know whether this is due to a subtle change in the algorithm used to calculate ratings or lower-rating people are just plain cheating more.

I used to play in the range of 1500-1600 when I was in a groove. Now I have a hard time staying about 1400. I don’t think I’ve become a worse player over the past five years.

Moreover, I have some more or less objective points that I think back me up:

• Players in the 1200s used to be just plain easy. You could count on them to drop a piece or do something else mistaken to lose the game. Now it seems people in this range are good players who rarely make mistakes.

• Players in the 1300s, similarly, used to be fairly easy prey. Now I see players in this range playing fairly sophisticated openings like Sicilian defense, etc.

• The medium-level lounges used to be populated with players up to about 1600, with those above that rating usually going to the advanced rooms. Now it seems that it tops out somewhere in the 1400s.

• I am seeing players in all ranges, even with quite low ratings, play with incredible grit and tenacity that I have never seen in lower-rated players. It really does feel like cheating, with the only thing that doesn’t seem like cheating is that they are not playing standard openings.

It almost feels as though some very easy-to-use chess program is in use that lets players fool around with openings of their choice and then dig in as needed. Of course, computers have always been a means of cheating.

I don’t know–it really seems that something fishy is going on. Any ideas?

I don’t use Yahoo for chess. FICS (free internet chess service) allows you to play on the computer free. IIRC, I did use Yahoo when I first got a puter, but it had a lot of ads and a lot of the players hardly knew the moves, some trying, apparently, to make illegal moves because they complained that the puter would not allow them to make some moves.

However, I’m also under the same impression in FICS. Some lower rated players, players who I’ve outplayed throughout a game, all of a sudden making some remarkable moves. I remember one adjourned game years ago. I was apparently winning, but when we resumed playing, my opponent made some quick moves resulting in my being checkmated by being blocked by my own pieces. Then he had the audacity to brag about his sharp moves, which obviously he had obtained from a puter. Conversely, some players have outplayed me early, making moves that appeared to be above their ratings, who, all of a sudden, make some seriously bad moves, like their chess computer suddenly failed or they did not rely on it for some reason, such as thinking they had an easy win already.

FICS does not have rooms. Players’ ratings are shown when you click on their dots on a sought graph, and you can find an opponent with any time parameters you choose, by merely clicking on “find an opponent.” You won’t have to wait long. You can also limit the ratings of players who are allowed to challenge you. Why use Yahoo with all their ads, when you can use FICS without any ads?

Of course, there’s always BLITZ, but there’s an annual fee for that. That’s how FICS got started. Some guys figure why do you have to pay to play chess.

If you google Chess-Auto Buddy, it looks like there is an app that plays Yahoo chess for you. I don’t want to link to it because it looks a little shady.

I’m moving this from General Questions to The Game Room.

General Questions Moderator

I think that Yahoo Chess, Pogo Chess, and some others, are mirrors, and they all have pop-up ads and perhaps even worse. Why play those sites when you have FICS?

Good insights. It just seems there has been a sea change in Yahoo. It’s really weird.