and now for something completely different....

Russell Sherwood  Saturday, March 19, 2022

I read an interesting comment on Facebook today about the allocation of black and white pieces. 

It was a lovely change to see a return to an “argument” about correspondence chess, rather than other matters!

The issue itself is not how many games the players were getting, but distribution of opposition ratings. In some cases, players were getting almost all the lowest rated opposition as white, in others as black.

The method used in most ICCF Tournament set up is random allocation, which by its very nature means that most players will get a reasonable distribution, whilst a few will get more extreme allocations such as above. That is the nature of randomness.

The alternative is to allocate the draw based on the order that the players are on the table [Here, table refers simply to the order that the organizer has loaded the players into the event creator]. This can be either random or by some organized method, the most common being rating.

If we order by rating, games could be allocated to give a slight edge by rating. This could be to higher rated players or lower rated players.

Whilst this approach can seem better, it has a basic structural problem – it is unfair to one group of players, whilst the random approach simply serves up the luck of the draw, which is fair to all.

It is an interesting question but one where, fundamentally, any approach different to randomness, gives an unfair advantage/disadvantage to players.

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