Requesting Black against a weaker opponent
This evening I had a much stronger opponent (20k vs my 28k) challenge me, and I accepted (mostly because I accidentally hit "accept" before I realized I was being challenged). I finally resigned due to a series of stupid plays, but as I reviewed the game, it occurred to me that this individual has requested to play black.
Obviously I could have (maybe should have) insisted on receiving black, but I always offer black to weaker players. Isn't it rude for a stronger player to take black, and expect the weaker player to fight for it?
I don't know how it works on what ever go server you were using but on KGS, rank and the number of handicapped stones you take have an effect on your change of rank. For example in that game, if you had lost your rank would go down a very small amount and his would go up a very small amount. So small in fact that it would be like you two never played at all. However if you had happened to win, your rank would sky rocket and his most likely would plummet. Most likely by over two or three stone strengths. You should check and see how which ever server you used treats the rankings and if it's like at KGS, welcome it!
Mramahi1- I don't think requesting to play as black against a weaker opponent is that bad of a thing to do. Of course, I'm assuming this game was played as a even game and there was no handicap given. With the komi that white gets, both sides should have the same chances to win. However, requesting handicap from a weaker player is obviously wrong.
Tamsin: I think it is worse for the weaker player to take Black at the intermediate levels (between 15k to 5k at a guess). For beginners, I don't think it matters much because the many big mistakes would cancel out the advantage of moving first pretty quickly, while at the more advanced levels the White player is better able to play patiently and wait on komi to win. But, in between, the White player tends to feel he is falling behind quickly (forgetting about komi) and so invades too early and too deeply, getting into trouble. Obviously, it is unfair for the weaker player of the two to be put into this position.
As for handicap games, I believe there's a case for playing reverse handicap games sometimes. For example, I had a friend who would always follow me around the board. To try and get him to break that habit, I asked him to give me a handicap, the idea being to force him to play tenuki more often and to be less defensive of "territory". This proved quite an eye-opener for him.
ggleblanc: On IGS, offering your opponent the white stones forces the game to be even, rather than a handicap game. There seems to be a reluctance at the double digit kyu levels to play a handicap game.
Random Guy: I have to disagree. As an 8k I was challenged to by a 1dan to an even game one night on kgs (massive komi). I won the game (with massive komi) but by a margin much less than our ranks would indicate. The game served as a major confidence boost as did the fantastic review. In short order i juped up several ranks. It was a teaching game of sort, but it was much more instructive than any handicap game.
erislover- I am trying to teach a friend about the game (he also has Charles's excellent beginner's book "Teach Yourself Go") and whenever I feel like he is being too defensive with his handicap stones we play with him as white with a large komi. While handicap stones can help a player learn to gain strength, playing against a stronger player for too long turns those stones into a crutch. White is psychologically just a step behind and I have found that it really sharpens him up. Next we are moving on to free handicap placement, too, so he doesn't become too attached to hoshi and never know what to do with a komoku (for example).