Addendum: Tiebreaks

by admin on December 21, 2019

As you know from my last post, I tied with Eric Steger in the 2019 Kolty Chess Club Championship, both of us scoring 6-1. At the time I thought that it was very likely that Eric would win the tiebreaks, but I was mistaken. Wolfgang Behm, the tournament director, sent me an e-mail to let me know that the tiebreaks in fact came out in my favor, so I am the official club champion.

I still want to reiterate what I wrote in my last post. Eric had a dream tournament and played a stronger schedule rating-wise. His performance was absolutely worthy of a club champion. Really, the only reason I feel worthy of the title is that I beat Eric in our individual game.

This did give me a chance to learn more about USCF tiebreak rules. For some reason, I’ve deliberately avoided learning them because I always consider tiebreaks to be a bit of a crapshoot. In particular, I mistakenly thought that the first tiebreak was the Cumulative method, in which you simply add the players’ round-by-round scores. Eric wins this method by a wide margin. However, that is actually the third tiebreaker. The first tiebreaker in USCF tournaments is the Modified Median system. In this method you add the scores of your opponents and discard the lowest one. This discarding helps me tremendously, because I took a half-point bye in round one and get to discard that “opponent’s” score, which would be zero. By contrast, Eric has to discard his lowest opponent’s score, which was 2.5. That makes all the difference. With the discarding, I win. Without discarding (the Solkoff system, which is the second tiebreaker), Eric would win.

So in fact, Eric won the second and third tiebreakers, while I won the first and fourth (the sum of the Cumulative scores of the opposition). But only the first one matters.

Pretty close tournament!

One other interesting thing I discovered in the rulebook is that head-to-head results between tied players are an allowed tiebreaker, but the TD would have to announce this in advance. However, that is the one that makes me feel like a legitimate winner.

All in all, my feelings about tiebreaks haven’t changed. They’re a crapshoot, beyond either player’s control. My main reason for being happy with this tournament is that I did the best I could have at the things I could control.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Roman Parparov December 22, 2019 at 10:03 am


Kolty is kind to the newcomers. I think Paulo, Juande, me and you all won the Championship on our first try.


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