This article is from the Table Tennis (Ping Pong) FAQ, by ttennis@bu.edu with numerous contributions by others.

Handicap events are a lot of fun. You get to play people you wouldn't

ordinarily play and everyone has to play their best in every match.

However, the key is a good handicap chart. Simple formulas such as four (or

two) handicap points per hundred rating points (in a game to 21) are a

start, but we should be able to do better. We will construct new handicap

charts for both 21 point games and 51 point games.

It is traditional for a handicap match to consist of one game to 51. The

reason is that a large handicap in a 21 point game can force the players to

drastically change their styles: the stronger player plays too

conservatively since the weaker player only needs to win a few "lucky"

points. Playing 2 out of 3 doesn't change this, but one game to 51 gives

more room to maneuver.

How do we construct a handicap chart? There are three steps:

1. We need some data from which we can estimate the probability that one

player will defeat another player in a nonhandicap match.

2. Then we relate the probability of winning a nonhandicap match to the

probability of winning each point.

3. Finally we calculate how many handicap points will make the handicap

match fair.

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