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I am looking for a historical summary on how the first Elo ratings came about. Apparently in the first official rating list from 1971 there are already ratings in the range of 2200 to 2760. What are these based on? Did they actually run rated tournaments before this date, or did they calculate ratings based on the results in previous tournaments (which tournaments?)?

Also, initially did all players start with the same rating (which)?

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    Hopefully by third party: 'Players, this is the FIDE system. FIDE system, these are the players' :-) – user1108 Oct 25 '17 at 13:37
  • I don't know, but Elo wasn't the first rating system ever invented so I suspect that the initial values in 1971 could have been derived from an older system. – itub Oct 28 '17 at 11:18
  • @itub If the first ratings were based on an older system, I'd also be interested in how those older ratings were set up initially. – user1583209 Oct 30 '17 at 11:23
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In Robert Howard's article "A complete database of international chess players and chess performance ratings for varied longitudinal studies" (Behavior Research Methods 2006, 38 (4), pp. 698-703) he writes:

The first FIDE rating list is dated December 1970 and was based on games in international tournaments in approximately the previous 2 years.

I guess that Arpad Elo will describe this procedure in more detail in his book "The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present" that, unfortunately, I do not own.

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