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Improving ranking quality and fairness in Swiss-system chess tournaments

by Pascal Sauer, Ágnes Cseh and Pascal Lenzner

Improving ranking quality and fairness

in Swiss-system chess tournaments

 

Pascal Sauer, Ágnes Cseh, Pascal Lenzner

 

 Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports
 
Published online by De Gruyter January 19, 2024
 
 

Abstract

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) imposes a voluminous and complex set of player pairing criteria in Swiss-system chess tournaments and endorses computer programs that are able to calculate the prescribed pairings. The purpose of these formalities is to ensure that players are paired fairly during the tournament and that the final ranking corresponds to the players’ true strength order. We contest the official FIDE player pairing routine by presenting alternative pairing rules. These can be enforced by computing maximum weight matchings in a carefully designed graph. We demonstrate by extensive experiments that a tournament format using our mechanism (1) yields fairer pairings in the rounds of the tournament and (2) produces a final ranking that reflects the players’ true strengths better than the state-of-the-art FIDE pairing system.

 

Keywords: swiss system; tournaments; fairness; ranking; matching; chess
 
 
 
 
 
 
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