Tie-break system decides Olympiad

by Johannes Fischer
9/14/2016 – After the US team had won the Olympiad in Baku on tie-break Hikaru Nakamura congratulated German Grandmaster Matthias Blübaum via twitter for "the win of the tournament" and thanked "Germany" for helping the USA to win gold. Blübaum, indeed, had played the game that was crucial for the, as Daniel King put it in his video report about the last round, "arcane" tie-break system, and decided the Olympiad in favor of the USA. But why exactly?

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After the last round of the Olympiad the USA and Ukraine shared first place. With nine wins and two draws the USA had 20 match points, the same number of match points as Ukraine with 10 wins and one loss. However, the USA had half a game point more than Ukraine - 31.5 vs 31. But the decisive tie-breaker was not the number of points the players scored but the Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break without lowest result.

The happy winners (Photo: Maria Emelianova)

This means that the match points of the teams against which the USA and Ukraine (or any other team) had played during the Olympiad are multiplied with the number of team points the USA or Ukraine (or other teams) scored in the match against that team. One example: In round nine of the Olympiad the USA won 3-1 against Norway. Norway finished the Olympiad with 16 match points and therefore the USA gained 3x16=48 Sonneborn-Berger points for that win.

Germany (right) vs Estonia - the match that turned out to decide the Olympiad (Photo: Paul Truong)

German grandmaster Matthias Blübaum (Photo: Pascal Simon)

But how then could a win by Matthias Blübaum that helped the German team to a 2.5-1.5 victory against Estonia decide the Olympiad in favor of the USA and against Ukraine? After all, Ukraine had won 2.5-1.5 against Germany in round three whereas the US team had not played Germany. If anything, Ukraine should profit from a German win.

True - if it were not for the fact that the Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break without lowest result applied. This means that the team with the lowest result is not considered for the tie-break. As the crosstable below shows, the team with the lowest result against which Ukraine had played was the team of Jordan, which finished 70th with 12 match points and 25.00 team points. The second-lowest team against which Ukraine had played was Germany.

Rk. Team 1.Rd 2.Rd 3.Rd 4.Rd 5.Rd 6.Rd 7.Rd 8.Rd 9.Rd 10.Rd 11.Rd  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1 USA 103w4 69b3½ 32w3 29w2 38b3 2w2½ 4b3½ 3b2 5w3 24b2½ 11w2½ 20 413,5 31,5 152,00
2 Ukraine 70w4 57b3½ 37b2½ 3w2½ 13w2½ 1b1½ 11w2½ 24b3 4w2½ 29b3 20w3½ 20 404,5 31,0 153,00
3 Russia 73b4 50w4 35b3 2b1½ 62w3 37b3 29w3½ 1w2 12b3 4b2 22w3 18 419,0 32,0 151,00
4 India 72b4 56w4 26b3 25w2½ 12b3 36w2½ 1w½ 9b2½ 2b1½ 3w2 5w2 16 350,5 27,5 158,00
5 Norway 85w3 76w2½ 33b1½ 30b2½ 53w3 58w2 6b2½ 10w3 1b1 16w3½ 4b2 16 344,5 26,5 147,00
6 Turkey 106b4 74w4 22b1½ 69w4 51b3 60b2 5w1½ 33w2½ 18b2 65w3 24w2½ 16 341,5 30,0 135,00
7 Poland 93b4 86w4 25b1½ 47w3 35b2 19w2 30b3 29b1½ 63w3 60b2½ 31w3 16 331,0 29,5 132,00
8 France 144w4 81b3½ 31w2 18b2 19b1½ 140w4 43b2 37w3 14w2 30b3 29w3 16 326,5 30,0 131,00
9 England 88w4 52b2½ 11w2½ 36w½ 42b3 44b3 13w3 4w1½ 16b2 12w2½ 10b2 16 323,0 26,5 144,00
10 Peru 121w4 54b3½ 47w2 31b½ 67w3½ 38w2½ 19b2½ 5b1 27w2½ 44b2½ 9w2 16 306,0 26,5 139,00

Source: chess-results

Germany finished 37th with 13 match points and 25 team points. If Germany had drawn its match against Estonia in the last round they would have had 12 match points and 24.5 team points and would have finished behind Jordan - and the Ukrainians who had won 4-0 against Jordan in round one would have had 15.5 tie-break 2 points more - enough to win gold. To put it differently: The Germans scored badly but not badly enough for the Ukrainians.

Final standings

Rk. SNo   Team Team Games   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1 2
United States of America USA 11 9 2 0 20 413,5 31,5 152,00
2 5
Ukraine UKR 11 10 0 1 20 404,5 31,0 153,00
3 1
Russia RUS 11 8 2 1 18 419,0 32,0 151,00
4 9
India IND 11 7 2 2 16 350,5 27,5 158,00
5 12
Norway NOR 11 7 2 2 16 344,5 26,5 147,00
6 19
Turkey TUR 11 7 2 2 16 341,5 30,0 135,00
7 7
Poland POL 11 7 2 2 16 331,0 29,5 132,00
8 8
France FRA 11 6 4 1 16 326,5 30,0 131,00
9 6
England ENG 11 7 2 2 16 323,0 26,5 144,00
10 34
Peru PER 11 7 2 2 16 306,0 26,5 139,00
11 25
Canada CAN 11 7 1 3 15 368,5 30,5 148,00
12 4
Azerbaijan 1 AZE 11 7 1 3 15 352,0 28,5 149,00
13 3
China CHN 11 7 1 3 15 348,0 29,0 146,00
14 23
Belarus BLR 11 6 3 2 15 332,0 27,5 142,00
15 10
Hungary HUN 11 7 1 3 15 329,0 29,0 136,00
16 46
Iran IRI 11 6 3 2 15 318,0 28,0 138,00
17 21
Latvia LAT 11 7 1 3 15 316,0 26,5 140,00
18 27
Greece GRE 11 4 7 0 15 309,5 25,5 142,00
19 39
Paraguay PAR 11 7 1 3 15 298,5 26,5 135,00
20 29
Slovenia SLO 11 6 3 2 15 294,0 27,0 137,00
21 18
Croatia CRO 11 7 1 3 15 292,0 26,0 132,00
22 36
Italy ITA 11 6 3 2 15 284,5 26,0 135,00
23 33
Brazil BRA 11 7 1 3 15 266,5 26,0 126,00
24 20
Georgia GEO 11 6 2 3 14 332,5 26,5 152,00
25 15
Cuba CUB 11 6 2 3 14 314,0 27,5 135,00
26 28
Azerbaijan 2 AZE2 11 6 2 3 14 313,0 28,5 129,00
27 16
Israel ISR 11 6 2 3 14 312,5 28,5 129,00
28 37
Kazakhstan KAZ 11 6 2 3 14 308,0 29,0 127,00
29 17
Czech Republic CZE 11 6 2 3 14 305,5 24,0 157,00
30 45
Australia AUS 11 7 0 4 14 291,0 26,0 139,00
31 14
Spain ESP 11 6 2 3 14 288,5 24,0 142,00
32 26
Argentina ARG 11 6 2 3 14 287,0 25,0 139,00
33 30
Romania ROU 11 6 2 3 14 279,5 25,0 137,00
34 41
Bosnia & Herzegovina BIH 11 7 0 4 14 273,0 28,0 116,00
35 35
Moldova MDA 11 6 1 4 13 326,0 27,5 139,00
36 11
Netherlands NED 11 6 1 4 13 313,5 26,5 142,00
37 13
Germany GER 11 6 1 4 13 292,5 25,0 144,00
38 24
Serbia SRB 11 5 3 3 13 289,0 25,0 139,00
39 31
Uzbekistan UZB 11 6 1 4 13 286,0 29,5 122,00
40 48
Switzerland SUI 11 6 1 4 13 282,0 27,0 128,00
41 60
Portugal POR 11 5 3 3 13 277,0 26,5 127,00
42 32
Vietnam VIE 11 6 1 4 13 271,0 25,0 133,00
43 40
Austria AUT 11 6 1 4 13 266,5 27,5 121,00
44 47
Chile CHI 11 6 1 4 13 266,0 27,0 128,00
45 42
Denmark DEN 11 6 1 4 13 262,0 26,0 127,00
46 56
Venezuela VEN 11 6 1 4 13 261,0 27,0 118,00
47 50
Montenegro MNE 11 5 3 3 13 247,5 22,5 131,00
48 55
Qatar QAT 11 5 3 3 13 245,5 24,5 119,00
49 76
Azerbaijan 3 AZE3 11 6 1 4 13 241,5 27,5 111,00
50 62
Turkmenistan TKM 11 6 1 4 13 237,5 23,0 135,00
51 57
Mongolia MGL 11 6 1 4 13 236,0 22,0 132,00
52 67
Indonesia INA 11 6 1 4 13 234,5 27,5 112,00
53 64
Belgium BEL 11 5 3 3 13 234,0 25,0 120,00
54 82
Ecuador ECU 11 6 1 4 13 232,0 26,5 109,00
55 54
Finland FIN 11 6 1 4 13 227,0 24,0 115,00
56 70
Costa Rica CRC 11 6 1 4 13 223,0 25,0 113,00
57 66
Albania ALB 11 5 3 3 13 219,5 25,0 118,00
58 53
Philippines PHI 11 5 2 4 12 308,0 28,0 134,00
59 38
Sweden SWE 11 6 0 5 12 266,5 27,0 125,00
60 44
Iceland ISL 11 5 2 4 12 266,0 25,5 130,00
61 49
Slovakia SVK 11 5 2 4 12 263,5 27,0 121,00
62 43
Egypt EGY 11 6 0 5 12 260,5 28,5 117,00
63 59
Singapore SIN 11 6 0 5 12 253,5 25,5 125,00
64 83
Zambia ZAM 11 5 2 4 12 243,0 26,5 107,00
65 51
Lithuania LTU 11 6 0 5 12 243,0 25,5 126,00
66 22
Bulgaria BUL 11 5 2 4 12 235,0 21,5 130,00
67 65
FYROM MKD 11 5 2 4 12 215,0 24,5 117,00
68 97
Japan JPN 11 5 2 4 12 212,5 22,5 110,00
69 63
Scotland SCO 11 6 0 5 12 212,0 24,0 123,00
70 91
Jordan JOR 11 6 0 5 12 211,5 25,0 115,00

Source: chess-results


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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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LearnZ LearnZ 9/22/2016 01:31

Regarding (1) I tried to find in the rule that if a team won in a match by forfeit, they only get 1 match point instead of 2. I can't find such rule.

Also why in chess-results.com, the MP of Ireland is 11 and not 10?

Another issue, according to chess-results.com:
"Tie Break2: Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break without lowest result (Khanty-Mansiysk)"

That wording is wrong as according to FIDE it should be the following.
" a) the sum of Sonneborn-Berger points, which are calculated as follows:
match points of each opponent, excluding the opponent who scored the lowest number of match points, multiplied by the number of game points achieved against this opponent;"

LaskerPillsbury LaskerPillsbury 9/21/2016 06:19
@malfa (and @weerogue, @LearnZ)
I'm probably being extremely obtuse here, but 'In the present case, what is to be discarded is the worst between the (opponent's MPs)*(GPs scored against opponent) products in your TB2, so if two or more of these products have the value of "opponent's MPs" as common factor, you logically discard the one which has the worst second factor.' doesn't make any sense at all. That's even more illogical than splitting a tie-break on MPs (when calculating your own team's TB2) by resorting to the TB3 of the teams involved (instead of the TB2). We're still talking about inconsistent use of criteria for the breaking of ties. Your assumption for TB2 calculation, 1) discard the worst placed opponent, based on MP, 2) in the event of an MP tie between two or more teams for the worst placed opponent, discard your own team's worst result (opponent's MP * your GP score against them), seems utterly implausible.

If, as you say, it's similar to the Buchholz Cut 1 system where you discard your own worst result (the lowest Buchholz score of your opponents - regardless of whether you scored 1, ½ or 0 against him/her), you would still discard Ukraine v Jordan over Ukraine v Germany, because that would be the worst result of all of your opponents (because Germany would have outscored Jordan on TB2 if tied on MPs, unless one illogically applies TB3 where Jordan would have bested Germany by 0.5 GP in the event of 2-2 in Germany v Estonia).

Furthermore, if it was a case of disregarding your own worst result in terms of [Opponent's MP * Your team's GP score against them], then it would have been Ukraine v USA which would have been disregarded (20 * 1.5 = 30), not Ukraine v Germany (regardless of the result in their match against Estonia), while Ukraine v Jordan (12 * 4 = 48) would have been their best result!

malfa malfa 9/21/2016 02:13
@weerogue, @LearnZ

With hindsight I think that our discussion complicated the matter unnecessarily, though understandably, since the FIDE rules lack of clarity and this article is highly misleading whenever it refers to the "worst result" in TB2: in the definition "Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break without lowest result", in fact, the latter should be intended from the point of view of the team whose TB2 is being calculated, not from the one of its opponents! I think that most of us, me included, were reasoning instead in terms of the latter, but if you think over it, it is the same which normally happens with Buchholz Cut 1 systems in the typical individual Swiss tournaments, when you discard *your own* worst result, not the worst ranked among your opponents!

In the present case, what is to be discarded is the worst between the (opponent's MPs)*(GPs scored against opponent) products in your TB2, so if two or more of these products have the value of "opponent's MPs" as common factor, you logically discard the one which has the worst second factor.

Grasped this way, it all looks obvious and also ensures that the columnist was absolutely correct when stating that a draw by Germany against Estonia would have given the gold medal to Ukraine: also in this case, in fact, the result of the Ukrainians against Germany would have been discarded from their TB2 in favour of the one against Jordan, thus guaranteeing them no less than 420 TB2 points, as LearnZ already calculated in the case of a last round loss by Germany, more than enough against the 413,5 of the USA.
weerogue weerogue 9/21/2016 01:12
@LearnZ, @malfa: Just checking back in on this - wonderful diligence and detective skills shown here - I believe you have reached the correct conclusion, which is that the following criteria were used when deciding which teams to exclude from your S-B calculation:
1. Team with lowest Match Points
2. (If required) Team with lowest Board Points

It's confusing why FIDE would use this method of ranking teams when calculating S-B tiebreaks when it is already using the '1. Match-Points, 2. S-B Ties, 3. Board Points' criteria to rank teams in the first place - why not just use the same method?
Also - this is not documented in the rules as published by FIDE (D.II.02) and so I feel that the US (in this example) would have had an absolutely legitimate claim to be considered champions had Germany drawn with Estonia.
malfa malfa 9/20/2016 04:54
thanks again for your feedback. I have not been so diligent to examine the whole data, however the confusion may somehow be settled as follows:

1. The discrepancies you point out in the calculation of TB2, at least in the cases you name, may be explained by taking into account that individual points gained by forfait count as a draw, so for example Ireland's MPs, for this purpose only, are not 11, but only 10, since they won 4-0 by forfait in the first round, so their contribution as opponent nr. 81 to France's TB2 is not 38.5, but 10*3,5= 35.

2. Apparently, the discard criterion between "equally worst" opponents was not their TB2, nor their GP, nor in short their relative placement in the final rankings, but only the number of GPs made against them.

Both of these observations explain Iraq's published data: firstly, they met Ireland and Finland, each of which got a 4-0 forfait score in the first round, and secondly Guatemala was selected as their discarded opponent over Malaysia because Iraq scored 4.0 points against the latter and only 3.5 against the former.

If the above is right I am confident to explain also the result you mentioned for Lithuania, though I did not make the relevant calculation yet. Indeed, it is a very weird system, which apparently is documented nowhere in the FIDE regulations, and I wonder if a different "approved-by-FIDE" program would have produced the same results as Swiss Manager.
LearnZ LearnZ 9/20/2016 10:03
I calculated all the tb2 excluding the low rated opp of all teams and compare it with the tb2 published in chess-results.com.
You are correct, for same match point of top 2 lower ranked team, the system in chess-results.com generally apply the max tb2 of the two. There is only one team I find that this was not applied, it is IRAQ.

Rank 93 opp records:
[rank, mp, score, tb2]
[144, 8, 3.5, 28.0]
[134, 8, 4.0, 32.0]
[130, 9, 3.0, 27.0]
[120, 9, 2.5, 22.5]
[118, 9, 2.5, 22.5]
[85, 11, 2.0, 22.0]
[81, 11, 0.5, 5.5]
[61, 12, 1.0, 12.0]
[55, 13, 1.5, 19.5]
[41, 13, 0.0, 0.0]
[7, 16, 0.0, 0.0]
r: 93, FED: Iraq, tb2_orig: 161.0, tb2_lowrank_excluded: 163.0, top2lowrank: same mp

mp = match point
tb2_orig = 161, is difficult to establish

try using rank 144 as lower ranked
tb2 = 0+0+19.5+12+5.5+22+22.5+22.5+27+32 = 163

try using rank 134 as lower ranked
tb2 = 0+0+19.5+12+5.5+22+22.5+22.5+27+28 = 159

So the published tb2 161, is dubious. But overall it shows that for same match point, the system selected the max of the two.

Some errors in the published tb2 calculation:

Example 1, the top 2 low (144 and 140) opp of ranked 8 France have same tb2 (32), but tb2_orig and tb2_lowrank_excluded are not the same.
I hope someone will verify this, as France could have a higher TB2.

Rank 8 opp records:
[rank, mp, score, tb2]
[144, 8, 4.0, 32.0]
[140, 8, 4.0, 32.0]
[81, 11, 3.5, 38.5]
[43, 13, 2.0, 26.0]
[37, 13, 3.0, 39.0]
[31, 14, 2.0, 28.0]
[30, 14, 3.0, 42.0]
[29, 14, 3.0, 42.0]
[19, 15, 1.5, 22.5]
[18, 15, 2.0, 30.0]
[14, 15, 2.0, 30.0]
r: 8, FED: France, tb2_orig: 326.5, tb2_lowrank_excluded: 330.0, top2lowrank: same mp

Example 2,

Rank 65 opp records:
[rank, mp, score, tb2]
[140, 8, 4.0, 32.0]
[139, 8, 4.0, 32.0]
[136, 8, 4.0, 32.0]
[69, 12, 2.5, 30.0]
[56, 13, 2.5, 32.5]
[47, 13, 3.0, 39.0]
[34, 14, 1.5, 21.0]
[28, 14, 1.5, 21.0]
[26, 14, 0.5, 7.0]
[19, 15, 1.0, 15.0]
[6, 16, 1.0, 16.0]
r: 65, FED: Lithuania, tb2_orig: 243.0, tb2_lowrank_excluded: 245.5, top2lowrank: same mp

There are others with inconsistent TB2 calculation in the published results, but will not post it. It seems to me there are problems in chess-results.com calculation of TB2, and one of that perhaps is the calculation of max tb2 when match point is the same for lower ranked opponent.

malfa malfa 9/19/2016 03:08
what logic suggests apparently was *not* applied, actually: for example, if you look at the statistics for Russia, their two worst-ranked opponents, namely Nigeria and Egypt, scored the same match points, but my computations show that the excluded result from Russia's TB2 was the one of Egypt, though they had both the higher TB2 and more individual points more than Nigeria! The only explaination I can find is that the product (opponent's match points) * (individual points scored against him) is higher in RUS-NGR than in RUS-EGY, but according to FIDE rules this is *not* the parameter to be taken as "worst result"... :-/
malfa malfa 9/17/2016 12:19
actually you did: you claimed that in your opinion the adopted TB2 was fair, I objected on this and explained why.
Previously I took position in favour of the head-to-head result, you objected on this, so overall my last message was perfectly in topic. What counts for more is that all if us be aware that the perfect TB does not exist.
LearnZ LearnZ 9/17/2016 08:08

Yes a draw in that match and USA would still get the gold.
In that r11 game the Estonian player actually tries to draw, but could not.
GER is expected to win that match by just looking at seed numbers, 13 for GER and 67 for EST.
But EST fought well.
vlad88 vlad88 9/16/2016 09:45

Thanks for confirming! I agree that had Germany lost UKR would have won. But it seems like a draw in the Estonia match would have still resulted in the Jordan score being cut and USA being champs, so the article is wrong (it is over-dramatizing the situation, since it is unlikely the Germans would lose that game). No?
tlago tlago 9/16/2016 06:16
hi malfa,
the exclusion-rule is surely debatable, but i havent talked about this.
malfa malfa 9/16/2016 03:19
whatever TB is chosen, there are pros and cons: the TB2 as it was in Baku lends itself to criticism insofar it excludes the contribution of the opponent with the worst result. In fact, on average the opponents of Ukraine scored both more match points and more individual points than the ones of the USA, therefore the latter were unfairly favoured by the discarding mechanism. It must be pointed out, however, that according to my calculations they would have won even without the discarding rule, albeit only by a single point.
LearnZ LearnZ 9/16/2016 02:37

In my previous post I already showed the so so fide olympiad rule. Let me post it again.


The rule mentions that the lowest team to be excluded in the calculation of TB2 is the one with lowest match points.

It can be implied (this was not explicitly mentioned in the rule) that if TB1 is the same as in the case when Germany gets 2-2 in r11, Germany TB1=12 and Jordan TB1=12 too, it would follow that the lowest team will now be based on who gets the lower TB2. If TB2 is still tied then TB3 would come in then TB4. The TB2 of Germany is high, so Jordan will be considered as the team with lowest match point with respect to Ukraine.

That rule in FIDE in this case needs more polishing."
weerogue weerogue 9/16/2016 09:53
@LaskerPillsbury, LearnZ: Thank you both for your comments and contribution - it's nice to know I'm not the only one who was troubled by this!

I originally made a post on the Rd.11 Report article and the two points I made are obviously concerns that you also share:

1. Main one: who would have won if Germany had drawn Estonia? MASSIVE QUESTION - very nearly happened, could have been hugely embarrassing for chess (not to mention FIDE) if so.

2. It seems like it is being asserted that UKraine would have won the Olympiad if Germany had drawn against Estonia - I can't see from the tiebreak criteria how this can be known and it irks a little that this is being used to insert manufactured drama in to an already dramatic, but also potentially calamitous scenario. Let's use the ineptitude of FIDE's tiebreak criteria to point out how bad this could have been and advocate positive change (as, I suppose, is the intention of this article - it could certainly strengthen the argument here!), rather than to marvel, with the security of hindsight, at just how incredible, cinematic, "against all the odds" etc. the US' victory was.
malfa malfa 9/16/2016 08:46
there is only one detail left out of your very clear explaination: apparently the FIDE rules do not specify which result should have been picked up for Ukraine's TB2 in case Germany had drawn its last match, thus obtaining the same match points of Jordan. To me it looks obvious what also your considerations suggest, i.e. that the one with the best TB2 between Germany and Jordan should have been chosen, but AFAIK this is not clearly stated in the rules. One thing is clear: it is totally counterintuitive that the worse one of your opponents scores in the last round, the best is for your final placement!
tlago tlago 9/16/2016 08:44
i do not see this Head-to-head- or unfefeated-argument.

if you end up tied with a team you have beaten in the direct encounter, it just means you where better in one aspect (Head-to-head) but you were worse in the other aspect (all other encounters). the same goes for undefeated/defeated.

why should the first aspect count for more than the second? i simply can see no reason for that.

the tiebreak as it was, seems fair to me. Germany was finally the better team than Jordan, and consequently Ukraine got their point from them. hadnt Germany won this one game, Jordan would have been the better team (thats just the way it is, in the end you count the points) and the 4-0-wipping of this, now better, team would have been decisive.

just fair.
LearnZ LearnZ 9/16/2016 06:54

Couple of definitions:
TB1 = match point in the table in this article
TB2 = Sonneborn-Berger tie break system as defined by FIDE

The ranking is based on match point, in fact match point should not be TB1, because match point is not a tie-breaker, it is the point that the team will get by winning (+2) or drawing (+1) in a team match. If a team loses to a match it will not get a match point. When a team is ahead in match point overall, that team will be the first, there is no need for the TB's.

If Germany got 2-2 in r11, their match point is 12 overall. They would tie with Jordan. But Germany would still be ahead with Jordan thru TB2. If this happens the UKR will get 2.5 x 12 = 30, worth of TB2 points from Germany alone.

If Gernamy loses in r11, their match point would be 11, and this would consider them as the lowest opponent of UKR, thereby the new overall TB2 of UKR would be higher and that may exceed the overall TB2 of USA.

According to the table in this article and the actual result:
USA TB2 = 413.5
UKR TB2 = 404.5
GER TB1 = 13
JOR TB1 = 12

Game score of UKR vs GER = 2.5
UKR TB2 from GER = 2.5 x 13 = 32.5

When Germany Loses in r11
GER TB1 = 11

Use Jordan match point because Jordan's match point or TB1 is higher than that of GER.

Game score of UKR vs JOR = 4.0
UKR TB2 from JOR = 4 x 12 = 48
Overall TB2 of UKR when GER loses in r11 = 404.5 - 32.5 + 48 = 420

Comparison of TB2 when GER loses in r11:
USA TB2 = 413.5
UKR TB2 = 420

UKR would have won the gold, if GER loses in last round.

LaskerPillsbury LaskerPillsbury 9/15/2016 10:07
Exactly what I thought, too. Although nothing is stated explicitly, it would be exceedingly odd not to use TB1, TB2, TB3, TB4 in that order throughout.

@vlad88 Had Germany drawn their final round match with Estonia, they would have been the second worst placed opponent of the Ukraine (Albania 13 mp, and Germany and Jordan 12 mp each).
vlad88 vlad88 9/15/2016 09:25
I am confused with this article: First a correction, Germany was the third weakest opponent of Ukraine (Albania was second-worst), but Germany was the second-lowest score counting towards Sonnenborn-berger. If they had tied, they would still have been ahead of Jordan in the table. Also the Ukrainians would have scored 2.5*11=27.5 against them as opposed to 2.5*12=30, but both of those are less than the score against Jordan: 4*11=44. Or am I using the wrong formula for the Sonnenborn-Berger?
LearnZ LearnZ 9/15/2016 08:29

The rule mentions that the lowest team to be excluded in the calculation of TB2 is the one with lowest match points.

It can be implied (this was not explicitly mentioned in the rule) that if TB1 is the same as in the case when Germany gets 2-2 in r11, Germany TB1=12 and Jordan TB1=12 too, it would follow that the lowest team will now be based on who gets the lower TB2. If TB2 is still tied then TB3 would come in then TB4. The TB2 of Germany is high, so Jordan will be considered as the team with lowest match point with respect to Ukraine.

That rule in FIDE in this case needs more polishing.
LaskerPillsbury LaskerPillsbury 9/15/2016 06:38
Is this story factually correct? weerogue and I have been struck by exactly the same thought, i.e. that in the article above TB3 has been used to separate out the result for elimination with regards to the all-important TB2 when breaking the tie between the US and the Ukraine for the gold medals. If this is indeed correct, surely the real anomaly lies there and nowhere else? In the final table Germany's TB2 is 80 points higher than Jordan's, so even in the event of Germany dropping a 2-2 draw with Estonia in the last round, surely their TB2 tiebreak would still have put them way ahead of Jordan, and the Ukraine v Jordan 4-0 result would still have been disregarded?
kassy kassy 9/15/2016 05:11

Head to head only comes in play for a tie. It would be the 2nd(or 3rd) tiebreaker.
You can have a moral victory if you want, but the team with more match points gets the medal.
Chvsanchez Chvsanchez 9/15/2016 04:41
Head-to-head is nonsense (but I admit simple enough). So if I finish last in a tournament but beat the winner, am I the moral winner?
notyetagm notyetagm 9/15/2016 04:22
@chessdrummer: I believe that the complaints about China winning Silver in 2006 was based on them having lost several matches (3?) to the top teams but they still won Silver because they annihilated weak team 4-0 and 3.5-0.5.
gmwdim gmwdim 9/15/2016 04:21
Congratulations to USA, but I think this situation shows that a more reasonable tiebreak system should be used. It's ridiculous that the gold medal should be decided by a game on much lower boards between two players with almost nothing at stake.
notyetagm notyetagm 9/15/2016 04:05
So the USA beat Ukraine 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 in their match, had more board points (31.5 to 31) to boot, but would have lost the tiebreak and Gold medal to Ukraine if Bluebaum had not won his 11th round game against Estonia!?!?!?!?!?!

weerogue weerogue 9/15/2016 02:47
@prince_james: the Olympiad was held in Baku, Azerbaijan; there is long-standing 'political tension', to put it mildly, between the nations of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
If memory serves me well, I believe Armenia originally contested the appointment of Azerbaijan as the host nation and then, after this was unsuccessful, opted not to enter a team.
weerogue weerogue 9/15/2016 02:41
Thanks for this article, but I have a question (as per post on last round report): where in the rules does it say that if two teams are tied on match points, then it goes to board points to determine which team should be excluded from a S-B tiebreak calculation?
prince_james prince_james 9/15/2016 10:33
Armenia is missing in BAKU,,, any reasons?
LearnZ LearnZ 9/15/2016 09:51
The TB2 is interesting, it emphasizes the ability of the team to score well against stronger opponents across the whole 11 - 1 rounds or 10 rounds (opponent with lowest rank excluded). Every game points counts not just the match point. Every team should always maximize their game points, be it against lower rated opponents or not, relaxing a bit because you won the match is a no no.

TB2 = game_pts_1 x match_pts_opp1 + game_pts_2 x match_pts_opp2, and so on till opp10

The interesting part is that the final match_point of the opponent can only be known after all the 11 rounds are played.

But one criteria that stood out to have a good estimate of the gold winner is the team that has more leads (top 1 in ranks) starting at round 6.
malfa malfa 9/15/2016 08:47
I definitely agree that head-to-head result should be the first tie-breaker. Just a couple of notes:
1. Board points as TB are prone to last round prearrangements
2. The absurdity of the case in Baku, where Ukraine had the maximum interest that one of their opponents scored as badly as possible, is due to the exclusion of the worst result from the TB.
X iLeon aka DMG X iLeon aka DMG 9/15/2016 05:04
I think tiebreakers should be decided with a round of Russian roulette
Peter B Peter B 9/15/2016 03:40
I agree with most others that this tie break system is crazy, and somewhat arbitrary. Head-to-head should be first. I'm not so sure about game points as 2nd TB because that could reward a team which played weaker opposition in the swiss system. Perhaps "sum of progress scores" as a 2nd TB. Like SB, it penalises teams which have an early loss and face weaker opposition; but unlike SB it has the advantage that you're not dependent on 3rd party results.
koko48 koko48 9/15/2016 02:56
@aighearach My point exactly

The US had more game points and defeated Ukraine head-to-head...but could have lost the Gold due to an obscure result of a game on a much lower table?

I apologize for the blunt tone, but that is nothing short of preposterous

Otherwise I would like to thank the fine people and chessplayers of Azerbaijan for putting on a wonderful and spellbinding event...The live stream and commentary was also excellent....But I really hope that in any important tournament in the future (Candidates Tournaments, Olympiads, etc.) SB tiebreaks are used in their proper place....As a last resort! After the more sensible and interesting tiebreak methods have been exhausted
Aighearach Aighearach 9/15/2016 01:30
Sorry, but no, people saying it should be head-to-head aren't complaining about which team won, because the USA would still have won, having beat Ukraine 2.5-1.5.

People are saying head-to-head because they don't want to resort to any sort of "arcane" system until all the traditional more direct tie-breaks have been exhausted. Then eventually you use some arcane formula that is guaranteed to produce a winner. That's what the little guy will continue agitating for, because it is normal in sport.

I don't care if board points should come before or after head-to-head, but they both should obviously come before Something-Something-Somebody-Something-Somebody-with-modifications.
kassy kassy 9/14/2016 06:35
You could argue for flipping my #2 and #3 as winning more games if you played more low teams may not actually demonstrate superiority
kassy kassy 9/14/2016 06:34
1) Match points-you won more matches
2) Game points-you won more games
3) Head to head-you beat your immediate competition
4) whatever arcane method to break the very rare remaining ties
GregEs GregEs 9/14/2016 05:23
I agree with the comments. Head-to-head result should be TB2, and Sonnen-Berger a TB3.
koko48 koko48 9/14/2016 03:39
Head-to-Head should be the second tiebreaker, after game points....Then if the head-to-head result is a draw, you go to the arcane SB tiebreaks

The question organizers should always be asking themselves is: Which is more easily understandable, and more fan-friendly?

This reminds me of the recently concluded Challenger's Tournament, where the WC challenger to Magnus Carlsen was to be determined by SB tiebreaks in the result of a tie, rather than tiebreaking rapid matches

There are too many blind traditionalists who are too stuck in the old ways in chess - which frankly, never got chess anywhere or made the game more popular....A niggling, overly obscure and mathematical tiebreak system (which you often need a computer or heavy calculations to decipher) does not make the game attractive to casual followers (or even to devoted chess players and followers). On the contrary, it's a turn-off to the casual viewers chess would like to attract more of

SB tiebreaks is not nearly as interesting and fan friendly, as deciding the result based on head-to-head result (or a tiebreak match)....This also serves the purpose of making the head-to-head matches between the leaders, much more weighty and dramatic....Because a key tiebreaker is also at stake

chessdrummer chessdrummer 9/14/2016 02:31
I believe the chess community has to make up its mind. When China got silver in 2006 there was a complaint because there medal was decided on board points and not match points. So they changed to match points. Now even match points are debated because there are inevitably going to be ties. You can't start arguing tiebreak systems because the desired team doesn't win. The USA beat the Ukraine was undefeated and the Ukraine had a more board losses. The U.S. deserved to win. If the Ukraine won the gold how would it be that they would win gold after having lost to the U.S. (who went undefeated)? Wouldn't make any sense.