The new FIDE grades are out and I am at my highest ever, hurrah*! 2157, the website tells me, with a dinky little chart showing my progress over the past three years. Well, I'm 42 now and the decline has to set in before too long, but just for the moment, it's up and up.
Very impressive - if you both know what it means and ignore the fact that there are players graded more than 600 points above that figure, an unlikely combination. If you understand what it means, you understand that it's good but not that good. Less impressive, too, if you want to impress your friends, since they are highly unlikely to know - or indeed care - what an Elo rating is or what sort of strength it signifies.
If I could say "I'm a grandmaster" it might impress them. That's what I like about that term, it doesn't just sound good, it sounds better the less you know about it. Like the holder of the title is Gandalf or something. But as I'm yet to manage so much as a draw against a grandmaster I can't even say I've beaten one, ever.
Nor does it matter that in July I knocked over a player stronger than many grandmasters, because that's the problem, 2477 doesn't mean anything, it's just a number. (I see he's down to 2463 now, for which I suppose I can take the credit. I also see he's got the International Master title, which he didn't have when I played him. I'm also yet to beat an actual qualified IM. How enormously frustrating.)
Anyway, the point is that you can give people a far better picture of your relative strength by referring to your ranking. How many people in the country are better than you are? There used to be a function on the FIDE website allowing you to do this - last time I used it, probably with the April list, I was ranked 290 among English players, which either impresses people or does not, but does at least tell them something that an Elo number doesn't.
I must be a little higher than that now. But how much, I don't know, since I can't find the function on the website any more. Is it still there and I just can't find it, or has it gone? If it has, that's a shame.
[* = inconceivably to anybody who saw me play at the weekend, I suppose, but it's about doing it when it matters, isn't it? Which can be achieved by deciding that it only matters when you do it...]