Monday, July 21, 2014


There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
- attributed to Mark Twain
Statistics are for losers.
- attributed to Vince Lombardi

As you can see by the graph above, I'm having a pretty good year of chess so far. But I'm not certain that I'm a stronger chess player than I was in the plateau between the years 2004 and 2013. Although I have been rated as high as 2062 before, this year was the first I crossed 2100. If I rated the 7-game match I'm in right now, my rating would further jump to 2124. Are these 60 points higher than my previous peak significant? There was a time when all kinds of information that I paid attention to needed P values to separate the signal from the noise. But I'm too lazy about math to look up the P-value as it applies to ELO ratings.

Here's the table of my results from 2004 through this year inclusive:


And here is just this year's results:


I'm happy to look at the data set and see that my performance against all ratings classes has improved by 50-250 points. What particularly stands out is that I'm playing much stronger against other Experts. I guess the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting. Since I haven't burnt out on chess, it's likely I'll continue to get data points this year, although, poor results are just the thing to get me to play less chess. When the future arrives, my rating will A) dip back down, confirming that this rating fluctuation is just noise OR B) remain higher, indicating improved chess strength. One further assumption would be that the whole ratings system hasn't undergone some kind of rapid inflation because of the USCF's new high-K policy.


AoxomoxoA wondering said...

Congrats, maybe you did get realy better..

Laurent S said...

Impressive results.

What do you think triggered your improved results against Expert-level players ?

Soapstone said...

Thanks for the comments. For Laurent S, I have posted a follow-up as to my theory of what is different this year.