Suspicious Rating Activity

Shown is a screenshot of a recent match played between a student (Jessica Hyatt) and her coach (Tyrell Harriott). Must be nice to have a coach like this when you are pursuing your Master title.

Title norms cannot be earned through matches. In any case, however, the forums are not necessarily the best place for reporting suspicious activity.

Norms based titles cannot be earned through matches, a 2200 rating (and thus the National Master title) can be, though there are limits on the total number of points a player can earn via match play in an event, over 6 months and over 3 years.

Interesting time control used, G/5;inc30.

Time controls like G/5 +30 are absolutely ridiculous, and U.S. Chess should not allow them.

Right now the tournament type (regular, quick, or blitz) is determined by mm+ss. mm is main time in minutes, while ss is bonus or delay time in seconds. The current specs, I think, are as follows:

Regular: mm+ss must be 30 or larger.
Quick: mm+ss must be in the range 11 (inclusive) to 30 (exclusive).
Blitz: mm+ss must be in the range 5 (inclusive) to 11 (exclusive).

Somebody please correct me if this is not quite right. To look at it another way:

Regular: mm+ss >= 30.
Quick: 11 <= mm+ss < 30.
Blitz: 5 <= mm+ss < 11.

In addition to specified ranges for mm+ss, there should also be specified minima for mm by itself. Something like:

Regular: mm >=25.
Quick: mm >= 8
Blitz: mm >= 3.

That would knock out this G/5 + 30 nonsense.

Bill Smythe

You’re leaving out dual rated, so Q should have an upper limit of mm+ss <= 65

I think in an old edition of the rulebook (possibly 2nd or 3rd edition) the minimum time for any (regular-rated) time control period had to be 30 minutes. So something like 30/30, 15/15 would have been prohibited, but that language disappeared for some reason.

I tried to drum up support to reinstate that 30 minute requirement for regular rated games, no support.

Minimum base time for Regular, Quick and Dual is five minutes. Minimum base time for Blitz is three minutes.

5C. Ratable time controls.

There are three rating systems: Regular (slow), Quick (fast), Blitz and Online. For the purposes of rating G/minutes and inc/seconds (or d/seconds), add minutes (mm) and seconds (ss) for total playing time for each player.

That is, total time equals minutes plus (seconds times 60) or mm+ss; e.g.: G/60 d/5 = 60+5 = 65 minutes total playing time for each player. Multiple time controls add all mm for each control: mm = mm(1) + mm(2) + . . . .

Regular only: Total playing time for each player is greater than 65 minutes (mm+ss > 65).

Dual (both regular and quick): Total playing time for each player is from 30 to 65 minutes (30 < mm+ss <65).

Quick only: Total playing time for each player is more than 10 and less than 30 minutes (10 < mm+ss < 30)

For Regular, Dual and Quick the primary time (mm in minutes) must be at least 5 minutes.

Blitz: Total playing time for each player is from 5 to 10 minutes inclusive and the primary time control must be at least 3 minutes. 5 < mm+ss < 10. All rounds must use the same time control.

No one should accuse anyone of anything based on facts in evidence—but it does make a patzer scratch his head.

A coach floored at 2200 plays a three-game match with an expert-rated student, at G/5 inc30.

The coach loses all three games, one shy of the 0-4 score that would trigger the 50-point match rating gain limit and likely make the reporting software go tilt with warning.

Well…maybe the coach is older, got a 2200 OLM floor long ago and is now low expert strength. Maybe the student is improving rapidly and has learned from experience how to play against the coach. The weird, fast time control favors the young.

Maybe they chose that control because of limited time to play the match. Maybe the student needs to work on playing with a just a few minutes on the clock, plus increment.

Maybe. I reckon future matches between these players will receive close scrutiny.

Upon further review, the coach is 45 and these two players played a four-game match in August at a more standard time control, which the coach won 3-1.

Seems to be lots of activity at that club.

The EB approved these regulations for rated matches in 2006:

Effective May 1, 2006

  1. Both players must have an established (26 or more games) published rating and be rated within 400 points of each other.

  2. A match is defined as any of the following:
    A) A two player event with between 2 and 20 rounds.
    B) A two player event with one round in which the players select each other and which is not a tournament “house game.”
    Affiliates are asked to identify such events as matches.
    C) Match rules may also apply, at the discretion of the USCF office, to players who face each other more than twice in any event, even if that event has more than two players. Affiliates are asked to point out such players in events they submit.

  3. The bonus formula does not apply to matches, or to results that use match rules as described in 2C.

  4. The maximum ratings gain or loss in a match is 50 points, regardless of the number of games.

  5. No player can have a net change from match play of more than 100 points in 180 days or 200 points in 3 years.

  6. Rating floors are not automatically in effect in matches. Instead, if a player has a match result that would lower the rating to below that player’s floor, this will be treated as a request to have that floor lowered by 100 points. If the USCF office grants this request, the rating will drop below the old floor and the new floor will be 100 points below the old floor.

  7. Match results do not count towards qualification for invitational events.

This is inappropriate for All Things Chess, it would likely be inappropriate for the Issues forum as well.
Please refer to the Code of Ethics at Legal Documents | US and follow the procedures there.

Sure. Coaches and students should play whatever quantity, time control, etc. of training games they want with each other.

But why would they be rated?

The word “suspicious” in the thread title might have gone too far, but tournament rating reports are public and fair game.

There was nothing in the rating report that justified an accusation, much less an ethics complaint. I made sure to state that at the start of my post above. A 3-0 score for the underdog in a match with a rating difference of 113 points is not that striking.

Add in the fast, unusual time control, the reported coach/student dynamic and the fact the coach is the reporting TD—all on top of the match score—and it’s sufficiently head-scratching to make it worth some discussion and digging.

It’s possible for a fella to scratch his head and dig through MSA and rating reports without any accusation or nastiness.

It went beyond that.

“It’s possible for a fella to scratch his head and dig through MSA and rating reports without any accusation or nastiness.”

  1. Having a public discussion about it changes it from your statement to something more.
  2. " Must be nice to have a coach like this when you are pursuing your Master title." is an insinuation.

There used to be a rule against public accusations of cheating. Perhaps the rule needed better wording, but I have no idea why it was removed.

Here are match rules from the rulebook:

4. Matches. A match is inherently different than other types of chess events, because it is an arranged contest between two players, generally involving multiple games. This affects the statistical assumptions upon which the USCF rating system is based, namely that ratings are based upon a large number of games against a diverse group of opponents. There are also numerous opportunities for manipulation of ratings via matches. As a result, the USCF treats matches differently than other ways to pair players, such as the Swiss system, round robin, randomly paired or ladder events, both in terms of who may play in a match and what ratings changes may result from that match.

For USCF purposes, a match is defined as any event in which all or substantially all of the games are between two individuals who choose to play each other or are chosen to play each other multiple times, such as a multi-game team-on-team match. That definition would exclude any games from events that arise as a result of specific pairing situations during a tournament, such as extra games involving a house player, poor turnout in a section, etc. Since the players didn’t enter the event with the intention of playing one person multiple times, the rules regarding participation in a match should not apply. The limitations on ratings changes from match play given below may still apply. Playoffs to decide place prizes in a tournament may be treated as matches. In validating events, sections in which all the players have just one opponent and at least one of those pairs of players play each other more than once will be considered matches. An event which would otherwise be considered a match between two players but with an extra round in which one or both of the players in the match play another person will also be considered a match.

a. Matches can be as short as one game or as long as 32 games. They can be rated under the regular USCF rating system, quick rated, or rated under both systems, depending upon the time control.

b. Both players in a match must have established and published ratings, and those ratings must be no more than 400 points apart as of the most recent published ratings for those players when the match is held. Under the USCF ratings system, matches are not eligible for bonus points. A player may gain or lose no more than 50 rating points in a match. Also, a player may only have a cumulative gain or cumulative loss of up to 100 rating points through match play during any 180-day period, and may only have a cumulative gain or cumulative loss of up to 200 rating points through match play during any three-year period.

c. Matches must be coded properly when they are submitted to the USCF for rating, either by clearly noting it as a match on the rating report form and crosstable when sending the rating report to the USCF via USPS mail, or by coding the event as a match when submitting the event online using the USCF’s TD/Affiliate Support Area.

d. If a certified TD is not submitting the match results, both players must sign a notarized statement that the match conformed to USCF match rules and other conditions for USCF rated play.

e. During validation of an event, any section involving just two players that is two or more games long will be considered an error if it is not coded as a match, as will other sections that appear to be a match. TDs are asked to identify as matches any one-game sections they submit that were intended as matches between those two players (i.e., the two players chose to play each other).

f. In the event that some sections in a tournament appear to be matches based on the above definition but are not, the chief TD will have to contact the USCF to explain the circumstances before the USCF will rate the event. The USCF office will decide if the circumstances warrant an exception to the rules regarding the ratings of the players separately from whether the restrictions on ratings changes should apply to that event.

g. The USCF may, at its discretion, apply the match rules to any section in which two players face each other more than twice, either before rating the event or after it has been rated. TDs may be asked to identify any such sections in advance and explain why they should not be treated as matches. The USCF may also choose to combine multiple sections or multiple events and treat them as a match.

h. Match results may not count towards qualification for invitational events.

i. Matches are not eligible for Grand Prix or Junior Grand Prix points.

j. Finally, any player who plays in a match and who is either at his or her floor or reaches his or her floor as a result of that match will be considered to have submitted a request to have that floor lowered by 100 points. The USCF ratings department will review the player’s tournament history to decide if the floor should be lowered.

Events which in the USCF’s judgment are intended to flaunt or circumvent these match rules may be classified as a match, and may also result in sanctions against the submitting TD, the sponsoring affiliate and/or the players involved.

I don’t see anything especially suspicious here. I suspect Mr. Harriott will be surprised to wake up one morning and find his rating after the match in the 2150-2170 area, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is never rated 2200 again, but that’s neither here nor there. And, if playing this match costs him his career as a master-rated chess coach, well, he should have known the stakes when he played the match.

A player whose last nine events have left him at his rating floor is almost certainly rated far to very far above his actual strength. I’m certainly not interested enough to try this, but if one were to plug his last, say, six months of events into the rating calculator, I suspect you’ll find a rating not inconsistent with this result.

I don’t know. Lions protecting kill. Or OLM protecting 2200 floor. Which is more dangerous?