Following up on a suspicion that handicap games tend to favour white rather more than one would expect, I analysed the historical SA results.
The dataset is not completely up to date, but it’s quite recent. In this dataset, there are 2333 recorded even games, of which white won 1201, a not surprising 51.5%. There are also 2445 recorded uneven games (at the correct handicap), of which white won 1228, a remarkably level 50.2%.
Breaking it down further, there are 1660 games with a handicap of 3 stones or more, of which white won 800 (48.2%).
This is not an enormous dataset, but I think it’s big enough to conclude with a high level of confidence that in fact handicap games don’t favour white (or black), and that we can confidently continue to use them for ranking purposes.