Do Streaks Mean Anything


At the moment, I am on a seven or eight game winning streak. I am only a 17 kyu on KGS, though. (The streak pushed me up to that.) I am wondering whether a streak actually means anything when I am playing at a fairly low level like this. Most of my opponents have been within two or three stones of me. My last game, against an 18 kyu, was my win by only seven points. This is starting to worry me; I do not want to get a rating that is several levels above my true strength. Hadou Ken

Stefan: Don't worry about it. If you'd shoot through to a level that is above your 'true' level - if there is such a thing - you will indeed end up playing opponents a good deal stronger than you. You may start to lose a few games badly, but you'll learn something from it and your rank will automatically get to an appropriate level again. The important thing is to not attach too much importance to either losing or winning.

Jan: What a coincidence! I was just thinking about the same thing, having won my seventh game in a row at the Go Club Utrecht - I'm now a 11 kyu, but what goes on in my head sure doesn't feel like I am nearly a single-digit kyu[1]. I'm still sloppy in all aspects of the game, and there are still a lot of moves I play that leave me dissatified. If anything, I'm more aware of my mistakes and shortcomings than I was a few stones ago. Luckily that leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Sure, I may have been underrated, sure I am improving; but that ought to have stopped by now... I think it's mostly due to experience (I am getting good at high handicap games :-) but a little detachment from the whole winning/losing thing helped too. So, HadouKen, don't worry, play some more, read SL, play yet more and see you at 9k :-)

You guys are right. I've probably put a bit too much importance on my rating. Winning and losing never bothered me much, as long as I played my best. (That last win, by the way, was the best game that I've ever played, and my opponent played just short of even with me.) My rating, though, is important to me, as I have given myself several goals in my rating. Shodan before I graduate high school is the most ambitious one.

It is a little weird, though. When I was 23 kyu, I played at about the right level. At 21 kyu, though, I started to jump a stone or more per game. I was playing WinHonte a bit, then, and that may have something to do with it. (I'm at two stones handicap, now.) You hear about go geniuses (genii?) who jump a stone or two per game, though. I don't think I really am one, but if I win this next game, too, my head might start to bloat.

Maybe I need to lose a game or two. :)

I was wondering if such a streak might just be randomness at work. I might still be just at 20 kyu strength, but very lucky. Randomness plays a much greater role at this level than at much higher levels.

By the way, Jan, I may not meet you at 9 kyu, but 5 kyu sounds good. After that, I'm gonna try to blow past everyone.

Jan: I'll settle for 9 - that was the goal I had back in my 20 kyu days (mind you, I'm 27 years old so improvements comes more slowly nowadays :-). I don't actually gain a stone per game, by the way - that's just the system used at my club: if you win a game when you're over klasse 40 (10.5 kyu) you gain a stone (2 klassen). You can also forfeit (is that the right word?) a handicap stone (or 10 points in reverse komi, when applicable) for an extra two klasses' gain.[2]

Our dan players are promoted by the Go Association (whether that's the Dutch or the European, I honestly couldn't say) based on tournament results, so those ratings are pretty realistic. No real way to tell if the ratings of the lower kyu's I've been beating are in any way correct though - I should play on KGS more, I think...

Andre Engels: In the Netherlands, dan players are graded by a commission of the Dutch Go Association. The European Go Federation does keep a rating list though.

Alex Weldon: For me, streaks seem to be based on my frame of mind. Some weeks, I'll get serious and say, "Okay, I'm not going to play sloppily, I'm going to think about all my moves," and then I'll demolish all my opponents (I think my real ability is several stones stronger than my IGS rating (12k*, although I should get to 11k* soon, because I'm winning 2/3 of my games), but I'm often careless when playing on the Internet, because it doesn't feel "real") and be on a winning streak. Other weeks, I'm just playing every day because that's my habit, but I'm not really into it, I'll play too quickly and carelessly, and I'll go on a losing streak and my rating will drop a couple of stones.

So, if you're on a winning streak, it may just be that you're more interested than usual in your games, or for some reason seeing things with more clarity than usual.

My biggest winning streak ever got me 5 ranks in 5 days, from 18k* to 13k*, without losing a single game. Then I plummeted back to 16k* or 17k*, because 13k* was above my real strength at that time.

Imagist: My winning streaks tend to correllate strongly with my erratic sleeping patterns; if I get 10 hours of sleep, I can easily destroy my usual rivals, but with 3 hours, I generally have a streak in the other direction. Usually these streaks last one or two days, and have very little effect on my rank, especially since I usually have a streak in the opposite direction shortly afterward. On the other hand, I do occasionally have a winning streak which lingers for a while. This usually happens after I go through a sudden paradigm shift after finally "getting" some concept I've been studying. Then I generally ease out of the streak and I know I've gotten stronger.

This is one of the reasons that I really like KGS's rank graphs, because I can see in detail when I've gotten stronger, even if it's less than a full stone's strength.

[1]: I mean, when I started reading SL, Morten (with his back then habitual '(10 kyu)' appended) seemed a demi-god to me :-)
[2]: The Abuse of Dutch Language Police is probably going to be knocking on my front door for that sentences ;-)

Do Streaks Mean Anything last edited by on March 28, 2007 - 20:33
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