In chess tournaments, when you win you get 1 point, when you draw you get 0.5 point, when you lose you get 0 point.

So we have to use two additional symbols to represent the score of a player: the radix point and the digit "5".
Or sometimes we use three additional symbols: " 1 / 2 ".

My question is: why don't we just multiply everything by 2?
When you win you would get 2 points, when you draw you would get 1 point, when you lose you would get 0 point.

This would simply have the benefit of economizing symbols and making the scores shorter. No more ".5" or "1/2".

  • 7
    Some tournaments these days, in order to promote fighting chess, use 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. So you see people have scores like 5 out of 9 after three rounds. I'm not a fan, because I don't mind fractions, and I would much rather be able to say "The tournament was 4 games and I got three points", with the maximum score implicit, than "The tournament was 4 games and I got six points out of eight".
    – dfan
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 14:27
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    Why is "economy of symbols" important? It's not like we're running out of 5s. Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 14:27
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    @HenryKeiter It's a bit ugly that some entries look very different than others e.g. in http://tashkent2014.fide.com/en/component/turnuva/?task=fileview&kid=3.
    – JiK
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 15:09
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    @HenryKeiter I wouldn't be so sure about that... gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2005/12/27
    – corsiKa
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 18:01
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    International draughts (10x10 checkers) uses this system. It's all a matter of tradition. Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 21:02

2 Answers 2


Each game of chess is worth a total of 1 point. The winner takes the whole point, the loser gets none of it, and a draw gives each player an equal portion.

This makes it easier to create player statistics, because each game is worth exactly 1 point. Divide their total score by the number of games played and you get a percentage of games won/lost.

To some degree this is the same as asking why we use pi rather than tau in mathematics. For some operations pi is easier to work with, for others tau is easier to work with.

While a 2 point system would make some things easier, it would make others harder.

  • 1
    This is a little off-topic, but tau seems to be easier to work with in just about every non-contrived case.
    – Cruncher
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 0:51
  • @Cruncher I'd encourage you to look up "The Pi Manifesto." I think it makes a pretty compelling argument for pi. At the least, I think it would convince most people that tau lacks enough advantage to abandon literally millennia of mathematical tradition. (Personally, I think if you look at the generalized formulae for the surface and volume of a n-sphere, it becomes completely obvious that tau is based on a profound misunderstanding of the deeper patterns at play.)
    – Sarah G
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 21:00
  • Almost every game is worth one point. From what I understand, if both players engage in grossly unsportsmanlike conduct, a tournament director would generally have the authority to declare a double forfeit, in which case the game would be worth zero (neither player would get anything).
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 22:53
  • ????? what is this tau thing. never heard of it. Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 2:08
  • tau = 2pi.
    – Bladewood
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 20:02

Because it's a long-established convention and changing it at this point would be much more trouble than it's worth.

In the words of Gerald Weinberg

Things are the way they are because they got that way

  • 4
    I don't see how the edit improved the post in any way.
    – Cleveland
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 2:37
  • Then why don't you revert it?
    – svick
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 10:44

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