Saturday, June 03, 2006

Should Forfeiters Lose Rating Points?

Because of my recent experience at the 2006 Mass Open (see my previous post), I am wondering what might be done about last round forfeiters. Should forfeited games count by the USCF as a rated game, and would that cut down on forfeits?

I have examined both the Marshall Chess Club and the Boylston Chess Club's last 6 months of tournaments in order to estimate the prevalence of last round forfeits. For the BCC, there were 3 forfeits out of 19 tournaments so far this year, which means 15% of all events have a forfeit. For the Marshall Chess Club, the rate was similar -- 9 last round forfeits in 45 tournaments (20%). This means that a player is getting robbed of a last round game once every 5 events. This may seem like a small number to some, but considering that this kind of forfeit results only from the rudeness of players -- if a TD were told about it, they would simply be withdrawn from the event -- I was rather surprised at how common this was. When you consider that these are the rates for well established clubs, with many many regular players, this is outrageous!

Let me address one concern -- is it right to rate a game that went unplayed? I say, "Yes," because we have no problem rating a game if our opponents resigned after a few moves, or offered a draw on move 2. If a player walked out of a game after the moves 1.e4 c5 showed up, this would count as a full point, but that is hardly a real game. In both cases, one player has to sit and wait, wasting time and life for nothing.

The real question is -- would rating their unplayed game lead to fewer forfeits? I suspect it will, but I welcome comment. If it wouldn't, then there is no point in rating the game. But if it would lead to more repairings then I think it is worthy of consideration. I suppose other options include sanctioning or banning players who forfeit games from club play.

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