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  1. #16
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Recently with the self-teaching chess program there was a lot of discussion about the idea of a rating peak (that perfect play might be a rating of 3500 or so). I wonder what the floor of actual playing strength is (eg assume a player has some idea about the rules most of the time, how bad would be the worst such players). Minus several hundred? Minus a thousand? The very weakest players in junior tournaments will get the odd half-point from stalemates or maybe win on time now and then.

  2. #17
    CC Grandmaster antichrist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jammo View Post
    Perhaps I can contribute something on this topic, unlike some others who don’t seem to have even grasped what the topic is.
    As I recollect back in the mid-1970’s there used to be a Chess Shop in the Wales Arcade in Collins Street, Melbourne, run by this sweet old lady named Lillian Cullen. It bemused me that she gave advice to patrons who enquired as to which book they should purchase (e.g. “perhaps you should buy this book on the King’s Indian Defence - it’s a very good opening....”) because her rating was negative something, so she must have been one of the lowest rated players in Australia at the time.
    When I went into Peter Parr's shop in the mid nineties after a book in the new notation for teaching juniors, I was informed that such a book was not available yet. So I bought Complete Chess Course (I think it was) and translated the wanted parts into new narration that took ages. It bemused me that he gave advice to patrons who enquired as to which book they should purchase. Maybe as a highly rated non player Peter did not realise that there was new notation?

    Or maybe I was played for the fool - he just wanted to get rid of his old stock. At that stage of never having played a rated game I wasn't even in the lens but everyone thought I was excellent chess teacher.
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  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    Recently with the self-teaching chess program there was a lot of discussion about the idea of a rating peak (that perfect play might be a rating of 3500 or so). I wonder what the floor of actual playing strength is (eg assume a player has some idea about the rules most of the time, how bad would be the worst such players). Minus several hundred? Minus a thousand? The very weakest players in junior tournaments will get the odd half-point from stalemates or maybe win on time now and then.
    I'm not sure that ratings have any meaning at the very lowest level, where players will take the king rather than checkmate, or forget how the pieces move!

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Byrom View Post
    I'm not sure that ratings have any meaning at the very lowest level, where players will take the king rather than checkmate, or forget how the pieces move!
    At least in a computer setting I think there should be a theoretical minimum rating -- I see a continuum from completely random moves to perfect play, and also from random moves to perfect play-to-lose. I don't have the slightest idea of how many rating points there are between random and perfect play-to-lose though.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pappubahry View Post
    At least in a computer setting I think there should be a theoretical minimum rating -- I see a continuum from completely random moves to perfect play, and also from random moves to perfect play-to-lose. I don't have the slightest idea of how many rating points there are between random and perfect play-to-lose though.
    I'm not sure either about how far away complete randomness would be from the bottom of the scale.

    The lower bound should be easy enough to achieve, at least in principle. Perfect play-to-lose must consist of resigning every game immediately after Black has made his first move. Of course, as Patrick has articulated, such a rating would have no useful interpretation other than as a theoretical minimum.
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  6. #21
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    I'm also assuming for the purposes of the question that the player isn't playing to deliberately lose or by deliberate randomness.

  7. #22
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    I'm not convined there is a minimum.

    First, as discussed many times previously, the natural tendency of rating systems is to deflate, because players get better and their new points come from other players and the whole system tends to a lower state. There's no reason this should stop, or even slow down.

    Second, suppose there is an "absolute zero" and a player is at it. No matter how low your expected score there's some probability of under-achieving, in which case our player falls below the alleged absolute zero.

    In practice rating systems have extra post-Elo clauses which prevent ratings falling to negative infinity (a rating floor being the most brute force method).

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    I'm also assuming for the purposes of the question that the player isn't playing to deliberately lose or by deliberate randomness.
    I understand what you mean by "deliberate randomness", but it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes!

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Rout View Post
    I'm not convined there is a minimum. ...
    I agree. In theory, a 'perfectly losing' chess program should approach negative infinity asymptotically.

  10. #25
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    Till early 1990's - Fide rating floor for male players was 2200
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  11. #26
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    The ACF adopted the ELO system in the 70s. Prior to that, they had there own rating system. 1000 on the old system was equivalent to 1600 on the ELO system. In some ways the scale the old system was a better scale as a novice was theoretically 0, rather than 1000 in ELO (though in practice, in Australia at least 1000 is a lot better than a novice.)

    I remember someone on the old scale having a rating of -120.

  12. #27
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    There was a Tasmanian player rated -290 in December 1970. 3 out of 60 rated players in the state had minus ratings and the top rating in the state was 1640.

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