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Rating System

Table of Contents:  Introduction | How are ranks decided? | Games ignored | Special marks in ranks | Rank cheating | Glossary | Related links


KGS uses the Japanese rank standard. A beginner is ranked 30 kyu; as they get better, their rank goes down until they reach 1 kyu. After that, they become 1 dan, and then improve up to 9 dan, which would be the very strongest amateur. Pro ranks on KGS are on a completely different scale on KGS, and are 1 pro dan through 9 pro dan.

In general, the difference between player's ranks is a good indication of the handicap that would give them an even game. For example, if a 2 dan and a 3 kyu play a 19×19 game together, giving the 3 kyu player four handicap stones would make it a good game.

On KGS, kyu ranks are shown with a "k", as in "3k" or "10k", dan ranks are shown with a "d" as in "1d" or "2d", and pro dan ranks are shown with a "p".

How are Ranks Decided?

KGS uses a system that continuously scans all ranked games that a user played in the last 180 days to compute the rank for that player. If you have no games, your rank is shown as a "?". Once you play a single rated game against a player with a rank, you are given a rank estimate. This estimate is shown as a rank with a "?" after it. For example, if you beat a 4k player in an even game, you immediately become "3k?" in rank.

After you play more games, the "?" disappears from your rank. Exactly when this happens depends on how many games you play, but usually once you have two wins against solidly ranked players and two losses against solidly ranked players your "?" goes away.

More details on the math behind the rating system are available.

Games Ignored by the Rating System

Only ranked 19×19 games are used by the rating system and the handicap must be six stones or less. In general, a game must have at least 10 moves before it is saved by KGS and used by the rating system, however, a game with even less than 10 moves WILL count either if it is saved by the person who plays as white OR if the game was created by automatch. All automatch games are used by the rating system as soon as the opponents are paired.

Pro ranks are not computed by the rank system. Players with professional ranks on KGS have been awarded that title by a Professional Go Organisation.

Special Marks in Ranks

Some players choose not to have a rank. If you don't want a rank, go to "Edit Personal Information" under the "User" menu and uncheck the box next to the word "Rank" in your information window. This sets your rank to "-", and all games you play are automatically free. (Free games are ignored by the ranking system).

A dash as the rank means that this user has no rank at all, and is not interested in a rank. All games against this user are free.
A tilde sometimes appears next to the rank of a challenger when you are setting up a game. It indicates that this player rarely plays against weaker opponents; it is much more common for them to play against stronger opponents. More information is available on the tilde mark.
As described above, the question mark means that the rank estimate (if any) is little more than a wild guess. It may be very, very far from the user's actual rank.

Rank Cheating

The KGS Terms of Service forbids "dishonest play during rated games". Rated games are meant to be serious games where player's strengths are tracked. Yet, there are people on KGS who engage in dishonest play, in other words, people who cheat. Some players cheat by trying to make their ranks higher than their true playing strength.

The most common system for rank cheating is escaping, that is, leaving instead of resigning when your opponent is ahead. KGS solves this problem by keeping track of how many ranked games you escape from; if you escape from too many, then some of your escapes become losses by forfeit. Try to find your old opponents and finish the games with them to prevent this from happening to you. Another form of rank cheating is sandbagging. In this case, the player attempts to make their rank lower than their true playing strength. If you forfeit too many ranked games when you are ahead you may be deranked. Escaping from an automatch game counts the same as escaping from any game.

Free games and teaching games are not considered for ranking purposes. If somebody walks away from a non-ranked game when they are behind, then it is really just a very impolite way of saying that they resign.

Other types of dishonest play are dealt with on a case by case basis. For more information about the enforcement of penalties for dishonest play, see the TOS, the Escaper FAQ, the Admin Announcements, and Sandbagging.


Related Links

          Up One Level    —>    Game Types  –>  Ranked Game
              Site Map        —>    Rating System

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