When “Head-to-Head” Tie-Breaker Breaks Down

Head-to-head tie-breaker fails in a number of situations. If there are only two players in the tie, head-to-head does not work if the players did not face each other or if their game was drawn. This is surprisingly common, especially among higher-rated players. If there are more than two players in the tie, it is the norm for head-to-head to break down. For example, if players A, B, and C tie for first, they each may have only one loss in the tournament: A beat B, B beat C, and C beat A, so they all have the same head-to-head score. Or perhaps each player drew one game and won the rest: A draws against B, and C draws against someone else — again head-to-head fails to distinguish between the performances. To come up with a scenario in which head-to-head doesn’t break down for a three-way tie takes some work.