New ratings on Playchess

by ChessBase
11/23/2017 – Readers may have noticed a recent, and significant, change in Playchess, notably the playing room: the new ratings. It is designed to get you a quick game with no delay against a random opponent with a similar rating. These "pools" include ratings calculated on games played at the same time control, as compared to the previous system which lumped multiple game times together as "blitz" up to 5 minutes with 4 seconds of increment. We now have 1-minute bullet, and 3-minute and 5-minute blitz, with no added time. The ratings for previous modes, and individual challenges, are now called "Classic" but continue to be maintained independently. Read on for a more detailed explanation.

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Jump in the pools

With the November updates of Fritz ChessBase and the Playchess Client, two new ratings have been introduced: Pool Bullet and Pool Blitz (for short "Bullet", "Blitz"). The old Bullet and Blitz ratings are now called "Classic Bullet" and "Classic Blitz".

Pool chess on PlayChess

The new buttons in the Playchess Windows client software — also available on the web

To clarify, this is not some new chess variant based on the game of pool, but is a reference to a massive pool of players. The central concept and change behind it is the inability to handpick your opponent. One of the flaws of the classical system is that it allows players to handpick opponents, while the new system means that any player who chooses to play a Pool rated game has no idea who the server will pair them with.

So what about the old ratings? They are now called Classical ratings, and can be still played. In fact, it is perfectly possible to mix a game with one player playing Pool rated and the other Classical. If the server finds two players with the same time control and within each other’s ratings, they will be paired regardless. The difference is of course that the player who chose to play a Pool rated game will have their Pool rating modified, while the player who chose a Classical game, will have their old Classical blitz or bullet rating.  

Start a pool game

To start a game with the new Elo category, simply click on one of the three handy buttons!Fritz 16 start screen

Alternately, if you start Fritz 16, the splash screen has a variety of options. You can just click on the time control you want, and it will enter Playchess and immediately register you for a game.

All other seek buttons and menus invite to classic Bullet/Blitz.

  • Pool games are paired by the server with ratings of the two opponents as close as possible to each other
  • Pool games usually start faster
  • Pool ratings are more realistic and somewhat fairer
  • Mixed games are possible and will never violate an existing classic formula. A mixed game is rated Pool for the player seeking Pool and Classic for the player seeking Classic
  • Your start rating for Pool is your existing Classic rating
  • In the player list, the columns for the Classic rating are located on the right. Drag them with the mouse to another position of your liking

Pool vs Classical

Pool columns

So what is the practical difference, and when should one prefer one over the other? The Classical ratings will continue to work normally of course, and they allow choosing an opponent, perfect if you want a match, or to tailor the time control to something with an increment. Pool will include all this as well as other Pool players and is best suited for a quick game, or quick gameS with an S. You don’t care who you play so long as you get a quick game against someone within your rating range.

John L. Sullivan, the great Irish-American boxer, was the first gloved World Champion, famously knocking out Jake Kilrain in round 75 of a scheduled 80-round bout in 1889. During a promotional tour, he is said to have entered a tavern where he loudly proclaimed, “I can lick (beat) any sonofa***** in the house”. When you enter Playchess for a Pool rated game, think of yourself as John L. Sullivan.

John L. Sullivan, the first gloved boxing World Champion | Photo: Library of Congress

To sum up:

If you use the same seek functions as before (Classic buttons) nothing will change for you. The pool ratings are an optional addition.

Thank you for playing on!

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