Please make sure you report all ladder games you play! Even if the result makes no difference to the ladder, non reporting of ladder games may be regarded as a form of cheating!
You should make it clear before you start a ladder game that both players agree that it is a ladder game.
All ladder games are graded.
Sandbagging has been a problem in English Chess. In this context a player is sandbagging if he tries to lose some games so as to reduce his grading. By reducing his grading he may get easier pairings in the next tournament. In tournament play it is known for players to try to become eligible for a prize at a lower grading level. Some tournaments have refused entry to persons suspected of sandbagging.
Grade inflation also occurs. In internet chess some players repeatedly challenge those with a grade much weaker than their own. By winning a lot of games this way a player can gain an artificially high grade for himself. I have known a club player with an ECF grade of 200 who would only play for the team if the opponent had a grade below 160 or above 240 – the reason being that if he loses to the 240 graded player he loses only one or two grading points, but by drawing he gains in grading. Against the below 160 graded player he felt certain of gaining points. The offending player created resentment, but he valued highly the 200 grade.
In internet chess grade inflation and sandbagging are sometimes combatted by using a ‘Glicko’ grade; one that also publishes a measure of variablity. (Perhaps we should switch to ‘Glicko’ grading?)
Either Sandbagging or Grade inflation may be unfair on other players. The new club player who is repeatedly challenged by stronger players will soon become discouraged. The improving player will become frustrated by repeatedly losing to a stronger player against whom the grades show he has a chance. In general one or two non reporters can soon frustrate those who are genuinely using their grade as an target for improvement, as the grades less clearly reflect standard of play.
The ECF and WCU (through FIDE) only accept games from recognised tournaments for grading. This reduces opportunities for grade manipulation by picking games. In club tournaments which are graded we rely on accurate and complete reporting of games.