The Tactical Grob
By 1996 Claude Bloodgood was rated 2702 and was the second highest rated chess player in the United States, behind only Gata Kamsky, who was the US Champion and was playing a match against Anatoly Karpov for the World Chess Championship. Many people including myself accused Bloodgood of manipulating the rating system. For example, it was widely believed that when a new chess player would enter the prison system, Bloodgood and the other players would lose games to this new player giving him a high rating. Once the high rating was established, then the new player would start losing, raising everybody else's rating. This sort of crude manipulation would not have worked in Bloodgood's case because of the large number of players in the Virginia prison system. Others have tried this and have been caught. Bloodgood did not manipulate the rating system. His games were legitimate. His rating rose to astronomical levels because of a flaw in the system. When the rating system was started in 1950, every player who got an even score of 6-6 in the 1950 US Open was assigned a rating of 2000. That was the starting point. Players rated over 2100 were classified as experts, over 2300 were masters, over 2500 were Senior Masters and over 2700 were grandmasters. Within about two years, it was noticed that everybody's rating was dropping. The only two players over 2700, Reshevsky and Fine, had lost those ratings.