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Let's imagine I am a super genius, and I get a ELO ranking of 3000. And then suddenly I stop playing chess, what happens to my rating then over time? Does it slowly decrease by NOT playing?

This is something I was wondering about when re-watching "Queens Gambit".

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  • As far as I know there's no 'fading' with Elo rating as proposed by Elo. Prof. Glickman's rating system (Glicko) includes a measure of reliability that changes on inactivity, and so a Glicko that once was 3000, could after some time be 'likely to now be at least 2500'.
    – user30536
    Oct 19, 2023 at 18:02

2 Answers 2

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The current FIDE rules for calculating ratings are given here for standard play and here for rapid and blitz. As you can see your rating only changes when you play. If you stop playing your elo remains fixed. All that happens is that after 2 years of not playing rated chess you are marked as "inactive". When you die there will be some delay but eventually FIDE will remove your name from the rating list.

A good example of this is the profile of Gary Kasparov. You see from this that he is ranked 2nd in the world but 0 in the world for active players because he hasn't played standard chess since 2005.

If you look at his rating chart you see that his standard rating has remained unchanged since he last played in 2005, his rapid rating has remained unchanged since he last played in 2017 and his blitz rating has remained unchanged since he last played in 2022

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Your number will not change and you'll still have 3000 as your rating. On the other hand online there is a slight inflation in ratings over time. So, like having a million dollars today, putting it under the mattress, and twenty years later still having a million dollars... but it just isn't the same. You can see inflation coming about for a number of factors but consider that new players join the game all the time and those who lose a lot will drop out after having given points to those who defeat them. They can even delete their account and "start fresh." Over the board, the opposite problem has crept in - deflation! Organizations keep tweaking their rules to try to fight both problems. In short, your number might be meaningless in the future.

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  • If you don't play for a while online your rating will still be 3000 though. Through inflation or deflation the mean and median of the general population may have changed and with it, what percentile you might fall in, but that doesn't change your 3000 rating. (be it online or OTB)
    – koedem
    Oct 22, 2023 at 11:58

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