Arpad Elo

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Arpad Emmerich Elo (born Élő Árpád Imre;[1][2] August 25, 1903 – November 5, 1992) was a Hungarian-American physics professor who created the Elo rating system for two-player games such as chess. Born in Egyházaskesző, Hungary, he moved to the United States with his parents in 1913.

Elo was a professor of physics at Marquette University in Milwaukee and a chess master. By the 1930s he was the strongest chess player in Milwaukee, then one of the nation's leading chess cities. He won the Wisconsin State Championship eight times,[3] and was the 11th person inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Elo died in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 5 November 1992.

Elo rating system

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The Elo[4] rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in zero-sum games such as chess. It is named after its creator Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor.

The Elo system was invented as an improved chess-rating system over the previously used Harkness system,[5] but is also used as a rating system in association football, American football, baseball, basketball, pool, table tennis, and various board games and esports.

The difference in the ratings between two players serves as a predictor of the outcome of a match. Two players with equal ratings who play against each other are expected to score an equal number of wins. A player whose rating is 100 points greater than their opponent's is expected to score 64%; if the difference is 200 points, then the expected score for the stronger player is 76%.

A player's Elo rating is represented by a number which may change depending on the outcome of rated games played. After every game, the winning player takes points from the losing one. The difference between the ratings of the winner and loser determines the total number of points gained or lost after a game. If the higher-rated player wins, then only a few rating points will be taken from the lower-rated player. However, if the lower-rated player scores an upset win, many rating points will be transferred. The lower-rated player will also gain a few points from the higher rated player in the event of a draw. This means that this rating system is self-correcting. Players whose ratings are too low or too high should, in the long run, do better or worse correspondingly than the rating system predicts and thus gain or lose rating points until the ratings reflect their true playing strength.

Elo ratings are comparative only, and are valid only within the rating pool in which they were calculated, rather than being an absolute measure of a player's strength.

See w:Elo rating system to learn more.


  1. Veszprém megyei életrajzi lexikon – ÉLŐ Árpád Imre
  2. Romániai Magyar Szó, 2003. augusztus 26. (Archived here: archiveforthis on 2007-09-27)
  3. Andrew Soltis, "What's Your Elo?", Chess Life, July 1993, p. 19.
  4. Elo, Arpad E. (August 1967). "The Proposed USCF Rating System, Its Development, Theory, and Applications" (PDF). Chess Life. XXII (8): 242–247.