The USCF Executive Board, meeting in Miami, has voted to substantially reduce the impact of the rating system activity points (commonly known as "fiddle points") proposal it had passed in October, .  The Board had come under heavy fire for ignoring the unamimous opinion of the USCF Ratings Committee in opposition to fiddle points, and this retreat comes as good news for those concerned about maintaining the integrity of the system.

In October, fiddle points had passed by a vote of 5-2, with Redman, Pechac, Barry, Ippolito and Warren in favor and McCrary and Smith opposed.

At this meeting, Doris Barry moved to reconsider the October motion, which passed 7-0.  Helen Warren then read three alternative compromise proposals that had been discussed by the Ratings Committee.  Proposal #1, replacing fiddlepoints with an accelerated schedule of bonus points, had been accepted by the Committee by a vote of 7-1.  Proposal #2, doing the same as #1 with active players but continuing fiddlepoints for inactive players with a 50 points per player limit, had been accepted by the Committee by a vote of 5-3.  Proposal #3, continuing fiddlepoints for all but limiting them to 20 points per player, was reported to the Board as resulting in a tie vote by the Committee, 4-4.  Actually this was in error as the Committee had actually voted 5-3 against accepting proposal #3 (one vote was different than the chair assumed), but the Board may not have known of this error.  

Tim Redman and Doris Barry moved for adoption of proposal #3.  John McCrary moved to substitute proposal #1.  The motion to substitute failed on a 3-3 tie vote, with McCrary, Smith and Ippolito in favor, Redman, Pechac and Barry opposed, and Warren abstaining.

The motion by Redman and Barry to accept proposal #3 then passed by a 5-2 vote, with McCrary and Smith opposed.

Even though the massive rating distortion that would probably have resulted from unlimited fiddle points has now been averted, it is interesting to note that the Board selected the only one of the three compromise proposals that the Ratings Committee had failed to endorse.  Ratings Committee members had reported that proposal #1 would feed in as many points to the rating pool as proposal #3, but the Board stubbornly stuck with a fiddle point scheme rather than adopting the theoretically justified bonus point approach, perhaps to avoid offending Board allies on last year's "DDDE Committee," which had orginially suggested fiddle points.

In other important rating news, the new rating system proposed by the Ratings Committee, approved by the delegates in 1997, but not previously implemented by the USCF office, is finally a reality.  The initial rating run using the new system was done on January 16.  It is expected that "fiddle points" will be implemented by the end of January.  Important features of the new system include:

1) The reinstatement of bonus points for players who sufficiently outperform their ratings.

2) Rating in two cycles, with post-event ratings of opponents used.  This provides a "feedback" like effect which will substantially compensate players when they face opponents who earn bonus points.

3) A sliding K factor based on rating, which will cause players in Class E and lower to have far more rapid rating changes than previously.  The combination of a high K and bonus points will lead to some enormous rating gains for underrated players with low ratings.

4) A more accurate method of rating provisional players, which will tend to assign higher ratings than previously to those whose initial result is to win most or all games.