Ratings and Grades FAQ

Ratings: Frequently asked questions

What do the columns in the table mean?

NAME: A link to your player record in EGD.
GRADE: Your entry grade at your last tournament.
STRENGTH: The grade equivalent of your rating.
LAST TOUR: Results of the last tournament you attended.
RATING: This is your current rating calculated at the end of your last tournament.
NTOUR: The number of rated tournaments you have played in.
CLUB: This is the (possibly abreviated) club name you used at your last tournament.

What is the difference between grade,rating, and strength?

Your grade is the grade at which you enter a tournament, normally acquired through playing club or on-line games.

Your rating is a number calculated from your performance in a tournament: it goes up if you win more games than expected, and down if you lose too many games. This number is call your Go Rating (GoR) and is derived from the ELO rating system used in Chess. See the EGF rating system page for full details.

GoR attempts to provide a more realistic and fine-grained measure than your Grade, but has non-intuitive units. Your strength is a conversion from GoR to decimal grade units, making it easier to compare players.

strength-grade correlation

The diagram shows the relation between strength and grade for UK players. Shodan players are placed at the point 0 on the scale and each grade stronger than shodan goes up by 1 point. Grades below shodan are represented on the negative axis. Strength are expressed in the same units.

It is clear that overall there is a good correlation between strength and grade. Within each grade group however there is quite a wide range of playing strengths. Players 3 dan and above have the lowest spreads, and the spread for players down to about 14 kyu is quite acceptable.

Why are ratings important, given this is an amateur game?

In club play, many games are played with handicap stones, but the most interesting games are even i.e. played without handicap. In an even game, each player has a 50% chance of winning only if the two players have the same strength.

Most tournament games are played using the McMahon system, which attempts to pair players of equal strength at every round. This can only be achieved if players have an impartial measure of their strength, such as is provided by a rating system.

How should I use the ratings table?

In a McMahon tournament, each player is given an initial McMahon score determined by the player's grade. This entry grade should be a good reflection of your playing strength, and the simplest way to achieve this is use the rounded value of your strength as shown in the rating table.

There are of course caveats, especially when you are improving fast or returning to tournament play after a long absence. These are dealt with in the next few questions.

My strength is much lower than my grade - do I need to demote?

It depends. The strength shown in the table was obtained from your performance at your last tournament. If you recently had a very poor result and this is clearly a one-off then consider staying as you are, especially if you are playing frequently.

However, if this is part of a trend and you are consistently over-graded by more than 1 stone over the last 10 games, then consider demoting to your strength rounded down. You should then find that you start to enjoy your tournaments more as you begin to win more games!

My strength is much higher than my grade - do I need to promote?

If there are sound reasons for this, then by all means promote. Sound reasons include doing well in your last couple of tournaments and beating players with realistic grades stronger than you.

The amount of promotion needs to be carefully considered. The rating system has a mechanism designed to help players who are improving rapidly. If you promote to two grades or more above your previous highest grade, then your rating is reset to the new higher grade at the start of the tournament. This is helpful if you are a fast improving kyu player, but this can only continue until you reach 1 kyu. So during this upward march it can pay to promote by just two stones even if the difference Strength-Grade exceeds 2 stones.

On the other hand, if the difference only exceeds 1 stone then a promotion will not gain a rating reset, and it may be better to wait for one more tournament. If you are doing well in a McMahon tournament you will in any case meet stronger players, and if you win then you will gain rating points!

The rating system has no mechanism for a downward reset so if you promote by too much getting an unrealistic strength, the only way to reduce that is through the painful process of losing games in your next few tournaments.

I am returning to tournament play after a long absence - how should I adjust my grade?

Standards in the game of Go are continually improving as top players find better moves. A player who has not played any serious Go for a period of say 10 years or more is liable to be very rusty. Even after a few games, the player's native standard may still be well behind the standard of a peer who has been playing consistently. It is not uncommon to see a drop of 3 stones or more in strength!

You may be able to get some indication from the BGA rating page. Try to find players you used to know and see how their strength has moved. If you cannot find them, try a player search on the European Go Database, as dormant players get removed from our listings. This should give you some idea as to where your current strength might be.

If you are still unsure, please contact the tournament director, or contact ratings at britgo dot org for advice.

I am entering a tournament for the first time - how should I set my grade?

If you have been playing in a club you should use your club grade. You can also look through the rating list for players you have met, to see how strong they really are.

Please tell the tournament organiser that this is your first tournament, as adjustments to your entry grade might be advisable if your guess was too low or high.

I have been playing only on a server - how should I set my grade for my first real tournament?

There are many different servers and they have different rating systems. Try asking some of your on-line opponents if they have a European rating,and if they can suggest a suitable entry level. You may find that the Worldwide Rank Comparison on Sensei's Library is helpful.

Be aware that over-the-board games can be more demanding than on-line play. Firstly, you need to manage the clock yourself, and secondly we sometimes find that online-only players are not practiced at counting the score.

My details on the rating list are incorrect - how do I get them changed?

Please contact ratings at britgo dot org in the first instance. Depending on the level of error it may be simplest just to get your details corrected when you enter your next tournament.

For some tournaments you enter by email and transcription errors can then arise. For others you enter via an on-line entry form and in this case your details should be correct. However you enter, it is always a good idea to check the tournament register usually displayed at the tournament, and ask for any details to be corrected.

Some of the common errors occurring are: interchange of name parts, shortened forms of name, or wrong club. The club information is important as the pairing program attempts to pair players from different clubs.

If you play in more than one club you may prefer to meet players from clubs other than your usual ones. In this case enter with your main club name, but tell the tournament organiser, who will attempt to accommodate your preferences.

Why do I not appear in the ratings list?

One common reason for this is that you have not played in a tournament for a while. The rating system keeps all player's details forever, but removes you from the display after a time period depending on your grade: 6 months for players in the range 20k to 11k, 12 months for the remaining kyu players, and 2 years for dan players. You can still find your details by consulting the player search on EGD.

Another reason is that you entered a tournament specifying a country other than UK. Again you are still on the database, but the BGA list shows only those players who enter tournaments playing for the UK.

Finally, tournament results are sent to the ratings manager at the end of the tournament and sometimes there is a delay because a query has arisen when trying to find the player on the EGD database. The results may then only be submitted to the EGD a few days after the tournament has ended. It can take a further day or two for the results to be processed. The BGA updates its rating list nightly and this means the new rating list is visible the next morning.

I was expecting to get a Dan certificate - what is the delay?

You are potentially eligible for a certificate when your strength rises above one of the dan level boundaries. However you need to be a member of the BGA, and a few other conditions apply - see our Dan Certificate and Grades policy for more details. If you are sure that you qualify, but have not received it, please contact ratings at britgo dot org to get the matter resolved.

Note however that as soon as your strength rises above a dan boundary, you should enter tournaments at your rounded strength - don't wait!

Last updated Tue Dec 18 2018. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.