Competitor rating systems for head-to-head games are typically used to measure playing strength from game outcomes.  Ratings computed from these systems are often used to select top competitors for elite events, for pairing players of similar strength in online gaming, and for players to track their own strength over time.  Most implemented rating systems assume only win/loss outcomes, and treat occurrences of ties as the equivalent to half a win and half a loss.  However, in games such as chess, the probability of a tie (draw) is demonstrably higher for stronger players than for weaker players, so that rating systems ignoring this aspect of game results may produce strength estimates that are unreliable.  We develop a new rating system for head-to-head games that explicitly acknowledges a tie as a third outcome, and that the probability of a tie may depend on the strengths of the competitors.  Our approach relies on time-varying game outcomes following a Bayesian dynamic modeling framework, and that posterior updates within a time period are approximated by one iteration of Newton-Raphson evaluated at the prior mean.  The approach is demonstrated on a large dataset of chess games played in International Correspondence Chess Federation tournaments.


Mark Glickman  

Research Area

Statistics seminar


Harvard University


Friday, 23 June 2023, 10 am


Zoom (link below)