I manage a scrabble group online, the ELO is set by Mattel but that is not a handicap just a grading Mattel gives.

In my group we run a weekly League , Monthly Lottery type game (who you play is based on numbers drawn) Tournaments for three different sections of the group and numerous friendlies. The group is holding at 80 members with ELO from 950 up to 2200. To make it fair and so that the big ELO are not always smashing the little players I have tried to devise a handicap based on the ELO but its causing problems because the bigger end are now losing games because of the handicap but are still winning the Mattel game which is increasing the ELO further. I attach what I have tried to use but can anyone suggest a tweak of the upper levels that are fair to the player but still give the little man a chance to win?. Thank you enter image description here

  • It sounds like the problem isn't that the weaker players (according to ELO) are not winning, it's that you can't add the handicaps to the MATTEL system. So even if the final score was 350 (ELO 2000) to 345 (ELO 1450), the online system is giving the W to the stronger player even though your handicap has the weaker player winning by 110 points. The solution would then seem to be to be able to add the handicaps into the online system, which probably isn't possible. In this case, you'd need to do all of your ELO calculations outside of the website. – SocioMatt Jan 15 '16 at 20:07

You can record your matches - including handicaps, so that the winner is the winner - on our platform rankade. It's a free ranking system for sports and games, suitable for Chess, Go, Scrabble, and more. Rankade doesn't use Elo, but its algorithm (called ree algorithm), although more complex (here's a comparison), is similar to Elo if you play 1-on-1 matches only.


That is what you want to have happen.

If we assume the handicapping is perfect then everyone will have a 50% chance of winning each game. (it's easier to assume 2 player games). If you have a 50% chance of winning the match your rating shouldn't go up or down (on average) as you are evenly matched with your opponent.

You want ELO to be a true reflection of the players chances of winning games without handicap, then using the handicap you obtain an even playing field for two players to have a fun game.

So tweak the handicap if the matches don't have either player winning close to 50% of the time. But don't mess with the ELO rating.

  • 1
    The problem with this solution seems to be that it is negatively impacting the stronger player twice. (1) They are potentially losing more matches because of the handicaps that are being levied against them, thus winning less money/prestige, and then (2) their ELO rating still goes up in the system so they will continue to suffer the effects of handicaps. This leads to a potential future penalty on stronger players for losing games. – SocioMatt Jan 18 '16 at 19:52

Thank you for the replies.Basically if Mattel had their own handicap system worked on the ELO maybe with a button to press if the game is handicapped between the two and then up or down the ELO accordingly, this way we would not need any independent system at all. It would also be great if Mattel fixed their problems so that friends show up on each others lists which is a different subject but causing group and leagues major problmes.

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