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 Post subject: Anyone have a method for avoiding club/salon accounts?
Post #1 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:44 am 
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As a beginner player, I'm finding it surprisingly hard to get games against players who are near my level. I've played mostly on the IGS so far, but have also experimented with the OGS and KGS. The trouble is the jungle of "club accounts" at the 17-15kyu range that I have to cut my way through to get an actual competitive game. I don't really want to get swept off the board with casual ease every game, by sandbaggers who are out of my league.

I don't mind losing, (I once lost 100 chess games in a row, no joke, against class B and higher players when I was learning that game! It was my own stupid fault for insisting on playing with that group, but I've learned my lesson and have no desire to repeat the experience.)and I don't mind playing stronger players with a reasonable handicap. However, the feeling of being mercilessly suffocated, and having every move punished immediately, is not encouraging. "I'm just trying to figure out the basics people!"

I tried just initiating all my games through direct challenges, but I get surprisingly few acceptances. Lot's of people seem to stay logged in for hours while away from the computer, and a lot of others just decline my offers. Why don't other beginners want to play me? And why does the Pandanet client still not have a confirm screen on auto-matches that displays win/loss records "Hmmm...12356/13472 w/l record, and you're 16k? No thanks; I'd like to play a real 16 Kyu."?

Am I just going to have to put up with this until I chop my way through to the other side at 14-13Kyu? (Goodness knows how long that's going to take me...)

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Post #2 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:44 am 
Honinbo
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Am I just going to have to put up with this until I chop my way through to the other side at 14-13Kyu?
Unfortunately, yes. Ranks start to stabilize a bit around 10k.
Before, the margin of error and fluctuations are just too big, from my experience.

On KGS, there are various bots that offer rated games; maybe you can try them.

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 Post subject: Re: Anyone have a method for avoiding club/salon accounts?
Post #3 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:14 am 
Lives with ko

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You can try goquest on your mobile for a change. It is only 9x9 and 13x13 (and sometimes 19x19, I never tried that though), but since there is hardly any player interaction (except for playing) and blitz/automatch only, sandbagging is propaby a non-issue there, even in the ddk-range. The algorithm that chooses your opponents will provide you with a good selection of weaker, equal and stronger opponents. I think it takes about 40 games to stabilise your Elo rating (The kyu/dan ranks on goquest have only the meaning of achievements, are widely ignored by the algorithms in place, and will stabilise only a lot later.).

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 Post subject: Re: Anyone have a method for avoiding club/salon accounts?
Post #4 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:20 am 
Lives with ko

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From what I remember when I created beginner accounts,

1. On all servers, it's difficult to get a rated game when your rank has a question mark (like "17k?").

2. I think there are more beginners on OGS or KGS than on IGS.

3. It takes longer to get a firm rank (without question mark) on IGS than on OGS or KGS.

4. It's easy to get a firm rank on KGS, just play a few games against bots. For instance, lose 2 games against Ayabot and win two games against Weakbot.

5. There are not so many sandbaggers. I remember having lost a game on IGS by 230 points against a "17k", but no more than 10% of players are sandbaggers.

6. Conversely, I once played a game in which my opponent typed something like "#@*${[ sandbagger" before resigning, and yet my rank reflected my real level. That you lose badly doesn't mean that your opponent is necessarily a sandbagger.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone have a method for avoiding club/salon accounts?
Post #5 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:23 am 
Judan

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I sympathize with your plight. :)

Slmlrdk wrote:
I've played mostly on the IGS so far, but have also experimented with the OGS and KGS. The trouble is the jungle of "club accounts" at the 17-15kyu range that I have to cut my way through to get an actual competitive game. I don't really want to get swept off the board with casual ease every game, by sandbaggers who are out of my league.


Look at sandbagging as an opportunity to get a free teaching game. :cool:

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I don't mind losing, (I once lost 100 chess games in a row, no joke, against class B and higher players when I was learning that game!)


I had a similar experience in go. Before the internet era, I just didn't have any weak opponents. And the ones I had did not want to give high handicaps. ;) The Tao Teh Ching says to invest in loss. Not a bad idea. :)

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Why don't other beginners want to play me?


I don't know. Fear of sandbagging?

Anyway, IMO all ranks below 10 kyu should have question marks until the player has played regularly for a full year and has played a minimum number of games. Beginners advance too rapidly during their first year of play for their ranks to make much sense. And ratings have a hard time keeping up. In the 1990s IGS, in particular, had such a sluggish rating system that there were islands of DDKs who played much better than their ratings, but did not get better ratings because they played each other.

In time you will find nice opponents. :)

Good luck! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Anyone have a method for avoiding club/salon accounts?
Post #6 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:49 am 
Lives in gote

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I feel you on the sandbagging frustrations... I wasn't feeling 100% last night and just wanted to play some even games. Instead, I played 6 people in a row who were ranked 2 stones higher than me a few days ago. I won the first one. The next two forfeited shortly after making enough moves for the game to be considered valid (I had even blundered badly during one of them). And the last three decimated me. And this is the at the 1D level on Fox... Unfortunately, you have to just take the good with bad. And while it's frustrating, don't let it dissuade you from continuing with the game. At least in my experience, it ends up being a small part of the overall experience.

Also, especially at your level, some of what you are seeing is probably not sandbagging. Don't get me wrong -- you are certainly encountering sandbaggers. But the rudametary ranking system that most of the Asian servers use results in very inconsistent ranks. Some people like it because it is transparent -- x wins or y losses and you move up or down -- but that "transparency" comes at a cost. Essentially, it is not unusual for an appropriately ranked player to hit a string of players that either they match up well against or who are slightly over-ranked. The player then ranks up, looses at the higher rank, and falls back down. The player then looks like a sandbagger, but is instead just a victim of a poorly conceived ranking system. You add the sandbaggers to this -- who forfeit games they should win to keep their ranks low and then destroy players they should be playing at a handicap -- and it gets much, much worse. I'm somewhere around 3k on IGS right now, and I've had several periods in which my rank has fluctuated up or down by a stone or two without my "true strength" changing.

The thing that is frustrating to me is that while obviously you can't completely prevent it, the servers could reign it in a bit. The most obvious thing to do would be to adopt a more stable ranking system. Although, the problem would then be that people would complain about the lack of transparency. (Not clear to me why people prefer to know the number of games they have to win or lose to change rank with more precision than the rank of their opponents, but many do.) But even without doing that, they could flag, review, and delete accounts with widely fluctuating ranks. Same goes for people who regularly forfeit games too early.

Slmlrdk wrote:
As a beginner player, I'm finding it surprisingly hard to get games against players who are near my level. I've played mostly on the IGS so far, but have also experimented with the OGS and KGS. The trouble is the jungle of "club accounts" at the 17-15kyu range... "Hmmm...12356/13472 w/l record, and you're 16k? No thanks; I'd like to play a real 16 Kyu."?


Believe it or not. Some of these accounts might actually be individuals players stuck that that level. Some people get stuck and can't seem to rank up despite playing insanely large numbers of games. And if you restrict yourself to blitz, the games can rack up VERY fast. Of course, many of these are also club accounts. But I find it slightly less frustrating if I remember that there is a chance that it's a real account ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone have a method for avoiding club/salon accounts?
Post #7 Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:37 am 
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Thank you all for the replies. I feel a little embarrassed that my first post here was such a whiny one. I'll do my best to make use of the insights offered.

I wasn't really feeling like the "club" accounts we're a form of sandbagging for their own sake, and a couple of my games against those 10,000 game accounts felt a little more on my level, since I'm sure beginners use those accounts too. Otherwise, the account rating would be higher reflecting that. But it's a completely different feeling, playing with a 16 kyu player and losing by 43.5 points because you neglected to play in a couple of areas of the board before the opportunity was lost, or you didn't see that a large group was in danger in the middle game until it was too late to save it; than you get playing a game that feels like wrestling a gorilla! All of my experiences getting truly steamrolled so far, have been against either 12 kyu and above, which is expected and not discouraging, or against an account that I observed afterwards has those thousands, and thousands of games played.

It's super depressing to hear that some of those accounts are actually single user, and that some people get stuck at that level for thousands of games. I don't want that to be my experience. If they're still having fun with it, good for them, but I don't think I could continue to enjoy it if I started to think that I was never going to get a good grip on the basics at least. I'll try harder to have some empathy, in case I'm playing someone who's really struggling.


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