Online Ratings: A Myth?

I often hear people talk about how our online ratings are supposed to be inflated versions of our official ratings. Oddly enough, I’ve almost always had an online rating lower than my actual rating, on both my ICC and chess.com accounts (both of which, unfortunately, have been rather inactive in recent years due to school).

For the longest time, I thought, maybe I’m overrated? But at the same time, my rating still steadily increased over time. In fact, for basically the entirety of my chess career and for as long as I’ve had my ICC account, my online rating has been at least a hundred points lower than my actual rating.

Evidently, that disparity, although it incited some teasing from some fellow chess players, did not stop me from actually improving my ability to study and progressing both on and off the board.

So don’t let your online rating, whether it be the blitz ratings or the tactics ratings, either boost your confidence too much or drag you down too much. As long as you work hard, you will improve and you will make it.

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2 thoughts on “Online Ratings: A Myth?

  1. Edward Song

    I think the discrepancy between online ratings and OTB ratings are due to how the player sees the board in real life or on a computer screen. Somehow I feel that I am better concentrated when I actually play on a real board than when I’m playing online. Also, the mouse probably plays a big part too, as some people may just be much faster with the mouse, especially with premoves and all.

  2. I think I’ve had the exact same online ratings since my USCF rating was crossing 1600. I recently crossed 1900 USCF. There are many factors. Ed Song is right about the difference between online and OTB, as one factor; but there are others. Rampant online cheating really messes with the ratings, especially the longer ones. My online (chess.com) standard rating went down while playing in the SLCA and SCL, for example. I’ve had more people booted from chess.com from those player pools than the general population, which is disgusting, considering the amount of cheating in the general population. On top of that, the different websites constantly alter some aspect of ratings, making it impossible to track your own progress, even if cheating weren’t horrific.

    The silliness and unreality of online chess makes OTB Federation rated games more important than ever. I’ve played 3 USCF players in serious long online training games, and, very suspiciously, didn’t last long against any, but ultimately got to play each of them in USCF OTB tournaments because I travel so much. Very conspicuously, they didn’t last long over the board.

    All this makes me a little ashamed that the USCF has gone down the road of rating online games, as if it means anything it all. I get it: it’s a money thing. It’s a sullied affair, in my opinion.

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