Each player tries to climb to the 1st rung of the ladder by winning games against other players on the ladder. The player on the 1st rung is the winner.
Ladder format is also known as Challange Ladder.
In a strict ladder, a player may play only the player on the rung directly above them. If the player on the lower rung wins, the two players switch rungs: the lower player moves up, and the higher player move down. Some ladders allow players to play players one or two rungs above them.
A handicapped ladder allows a player to play any other player on the ladder — above or below them by any number of rungs. The winning player moves up one rung. This works because in handicapped play even the player on the lowest rung has a chance to beat the player on the highest rung.