It is often daunting to compete in a tournament with strong players. You may feel that you have no chance to win a prize against such opponents. One way to equalize the playing field is by adding handicaps. For example, giving stronger players less time, less pieces or less points gives their opponents a chance to cause an upset. However, handicaps also have a dark side.
Many strong players pretend to be weak – also known as “sandbagging” – so that they can gain a handicap advantage. That means they intentionally lose games in certain tournaments to lower their rating, while winning as much as possible in big prize tournaments. Even though we track and ban users for doing this it causes a negative perception of tournaments. This goes completely against the competitive spirit ChessCube wants to promote in tournaments. It also means that prizes could be going to undeserving players who abuse the system.
Enter Rating Categories.
Rating categories are a different way in which ChessCube is awarding prizes in tournaments. They are fairer and, more than ever, give anyone a chance to win. The idea is that while everyone competes together prizes are awarded to players in rating restricted categories. This means that a 1500 player is not competing against a 2500 for a prize, but against other players around 1500 strength.
How does it work?
Every tournament will have open prizes which will be awarded to the top places, no matter what the prize winner’s rating is. So even new players in their first tournament can compete for these prizes. Thereafter prizes are awarded to the top players in each rating category. For these prizes only players within the rating category will be considered. Even if you finish near the bottom of the tournament, out of contention for the open prizes, you still have a chance to win a rating category prize (depending on how the other players in your rating category performed). A player can only win one prize, so if you qualify for an open and a rating category prize you will get the biggest of the two and someone else will qualify for the other.
Let’s consider a practical example for a tournament with the following prizes:
- Open prizes: 1st = $1000, 2nd = $750, 3rd = $500
- Rating category 1800-2199: 1st = $400, 2nd = $350
- Rating category 1500-1799: 1st = $200, 2nd = $150
- Rating category 0-1499: 1st = $100, 2nd = $50
If you are a player with a rating of 1450 you have a chance to do great and win overall 1st and $1000. But even if you don’t you still have a chance to win the 0-1499 rating category prizes and get $100 or $50. On the other hand, if you are a 2500 rated player you are only competing for the open prizes (and you have a good chance to win them!). Note that you qualify for a rating category based on your start rating in the tournament.
In addition to rating categories ChessCube has also started a new initiative of verifying all prize winners in such tournaments. This assures players that the final prize winners got there fairly.
Now all players have an incentive to play and fight in every game. Enjoy playing against strong players and learn from them – get the experience which will make you a better player too. And know that whatever score you end on there is still a chance to win!