One tie-break that I would love to see implemented more is 34E11 Average rating of opposition. I’ve seen too many times when simple human reason can show that player A has played tougher opponents than player B, but Modified Median gives the trumps to B (a lot of times due to A’s opponents withdrawing, having off-days, etc.). Tim Just gives the obvious detriment to this rule: that player A might beat player B on this tie-break by a statistically insignificant margin (maybe they are consecutive pairing seeds and each time player A plays an opponent 15 measely points higher).

My proposal would be for any computer-calculated tiebreaks to have this rule as the first tie-break, then followed by Modified Median, etc. IF AND ONLY IF, the rating difference is “statistically significant” (USCF decides a number - 100, 200 points? Someone else with more talent than I can figure out the best rating difference to be used as the standard). If the number is “statistically NOT significant” then tie-breaks should revert to normal.

One simple case:

Player A beats 1500, beats 1600, beats 1700, draws 1800.

Player B beats 1500, beats 1600, beats 1750, draws 2400.

With modified median, Player A will win on tie-breaks more than a fair percentage of the time, simply because of opponents’ more-or-less random results. Here Tim Just’s nicely worded phrase “Each seeks to discover the first among equals (34D)” would show to any layman that a statistically significant rating differential should take first precedence.

Limitations:

- To a small degree, computers are helpful.
- A strictly defined statistically significant margin needs to be endorsed.

Benefits:

- It makes sense even to laymen.
- If the margin is insignificant, it can just be ignored for the next step.
- It rewards/compensates having to play against superior competition, rather than simply hoping that superior competition will match their theoretical likely tournament results. USCF ratings are much more secure predictions of a person’s strength than a random Saturday performance outing.

I hope some good discussion follows

Ben Bentrup