Chess Tournament Tiebreaker

By the chess tutor Jonathan D. Whitcomb (Salt Lake Valley of Utah)

While directing two chess tournaments in Utah recently, I devised a tiebreaker system for double round robin events:

Whitcomb tiebreaker (especially useful for Double Round Robin chess tournaments)

First Part

Use the two-game match (or matches) between players who have tied.
If that does not resolve one or more ties, use the following system for
the tie or ties that have not been resolved:

Second Part

A player’s score for the last played game is multiplied by four.
That sum is then added to the final score of the opponent in that game.

Third Part

Use a variation of Part One: count only the second game (chronological) of the two-game match (or matches).

Fourth Part

Use a random method (tossing a coin)


Explanation for the second part

This gives more weight to performance at the end of the tournament, for
prizes are awarded after the tournament is completed. It allows for the
possibility that a player has improved during the event, giving credit for that.

Example #1

The first part of calculations did not resolve a three-way tie, so the second
part is used:

Player-A and Player-B and Player-C are tied at the end of a double round robin.
Here are the last played games for those three persons (remember these are only
the last games that were actually played by those three players):

Player-A: won against an opponent who had a final score of 2: tiebreaker = 6
Detail: (4*1)+2=6

Player-B: drew against an opponent who had a final score of 3: tiebreaker = 5
Detail: (4*½)+3=5

Player-C: lost against an opponent who had a final score of 4: tiebreaker = 4
Detail: (4*0)+4=4

Example #2

Player-A and Player-B are tied at the end. In their individual match, however,
Player-A scored 1½-½, meaning Player-B scored ½-1½, so Player-A wins the tiebreaker.
There is no need to go to the second part of calculations.

Example #3

Player-A, Player-B, and Player-C are tied at the end of the chess tournament. Here is
how they did against each other:

from Example number 3 of the Whitcomb tiebreaker for chess tournaments





After looking at those games those three played against each other, we have this:

Player-A = 2½
Player-B = 2
Player-C = 1½

The above points are used for tie-breaking.


Two Double Round Robin Chess Tournaments in Utah in 2017

Many chess tournaments in Utah, as in other states of the USA, are Swiss system competitions. Double round robins, aside from speed games, are indeed rare tournaments, but that’s what we’re having in the spring and early summer of 2017, in the Salt Lake Valley. In fact we’re having two of them at the same time, in two senior centers.

At the Sandy Senior Center, a few miles south of Salt Lake City, we’re winding down the first annual chess club championship, although the top players have basically completed their games. Of the six players competing, over a period of many weeks, the following three will be receiving awards:

#1 Jonathan Whitcomb – score: 8-2

#2 Bruce – score: 6½-3½

#3 Steve – score: 6-4

It’s possible that another player, Greg, may attain a final score of 6-4, if he wins his last three games, but Steve will win the tiebreaker. For this double round robin chess tournament, the tiebreaker is this: whoever completes his or her games first. The Whitcomb method of tie-breaking is not used in this event, for it was developed during the competition.

At the Harman Senior Center in West Valley, Utah, Grant Hodson is almost sure to be the winner. If he wins his last game, his score will be 10½-1½. His only loss was to me, but it seems that the best I can hope for, in this year’s championship chess tournament, is getting second place, half a point behind Grant. Like the Sandy tournament, the tiebreaker goes to the player who finishes all his or her games first, and Grant has only one game left, while I still have four games to go.



Lessons From a Tournament Chess Game

The following game I [Jonathan Whitcomb] played on June 14th against Grant Hodson, the tournament leader in the Harman Chess Club Championship (2017) in West Valley, Utah.


Utah chess lessons

I’m Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess, and I’m now offering my services as a chess coach in the Salt Lake Valley.


Utah chess tutor

A free chess tournament gave about half of the children their first ever experience in tournament competition. The event was organized by the local chess tutor Alexander Gustafsson and the Youth-Services librarian Laura Renshaw, with publicity help from the author Jonathan Whitcomb.