Skip to main content.
October 19th, 2010

Tired of ads? Then register an account or login

Should handicap games count?

Following up on a suspicion that handicap games tend to favour white rather more than one would expect, I analysed the historical SA results.

The dataset is not completely up to date, but it’s quite recent. In this dataset, there are 2333 recorded even games, of which white won 1201, a not surprising 51.5%. There are also 2445 recorded uneven games (at the correct handicap), of which white won 1228, a remarkably level 50.2%.

Breaking it down further, there are 1660 games with a handicap of 3 stones or more, of which white won 800 (48.2%).

This is not an enormous dataset, but I think it’s big enough to conclude with a high level of confidence that in fact handicap games don’t favour white (or black), and that we can confidently continue to use them for ranking purposes.

Posted by Chris Welsh in General, Rank Changes


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 at 5:00 pm and is filed under General, Rank Changes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Responses to “Should handicap games count?”

  1. lloyd says:

    Good piece of research.

    I wonder if that last stat was skewed by a bunch of 9 stone games played with much weaker players (playing 9 stones when the rank difference is 14 or more)?

  2. Chris says:

    In the post I point out that the games were correctly handicapped. I carefully excluded all the games that were incorrectly handicapped, such as most tournament games, and the many club games which are incorrectly capped at 9 stones. This meant excluding over 1000 games. In fact, I did mistakenly include them initially, but when I saw the result of a 70% win ratio for white, I was very suspicious, and double checked my results.

  3. Steve says:

    Do your stats include the games with 9H+xx komi, where the rank difference is bigger than 9 stones?

  4. Chris says:

    Yes it does. The effective handicap is determined, based on the komi (using 10 stones per strength level), and so long as the effective handicap equals the difference in rank between the players, it was included in the statistics. If you’re curious, I can differentiate games of 9h or less from games with >10h.

  5. Andre says:

    Doesn’t the size of the handicap also affect the amount of points gained/lost on the ranking system? I might be wrong, but I think I remember something like that.

  6. Steve says:

    Yes – there’s a handicap factor the points are multiplied by – details at

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.