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Archive-Name: games/chess/part1 Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (with answers) for Chess Players

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________| rgcm Chess FAQ ( FAQ) |________

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\ | Last modified DEC 15, 2002 Stephen M. Pribut | /

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/___________) (__________\ FAQ

Chess Info from

by Stephen Pribut ("mailto


Welcome to "The rgcm FAQ", a compilation of information about chess and

the internet. This FAQ is posted in 4 parts, bimonthly, to the newgroup

Part 1 is about Organizations, Ratings & Titles,

Tournaments,Self-Improvement, and Supplies.

Part 2 is about Mailing Lists, freely available Services and Material,

Chess-playing Hardware, Software, and Utilities, and a Miscellaneous


Part 3 is about how to improve and chess related supplies including

computers, software, etc.

Part 4 contains miscellaneous material.

The USENET group is now a hierarchy of 5 groups: * * * * *

This FAQ contains an overview of all areas of chess. FAQ's specific to
each of the above areas will be posted. The FAQ
will also contain information on tht history of computers in chess and
sketches of some of the individuals currently active in this field.

If you are new to the newsgroup, you might want to read
this FAQ before posting questions to the newsgroup. This twice-monthly
posting is intended to address some of the frequently asked questions
(FAQ's) on the news group. Because the answers may not
be complete, please feel free to ask questions. This is only intended to
address first-level concerns, and not to stifle discussions (discussions
are never stifled on How to get the FAQ: This document
is posted twice monthly to the Usenet newgroups,
rec.answers, and news.answers.

Other ways to obtain the faq: at my website: Steve Pribut's Chess page
( )

Anonymous ftp to ( and get the files

E-mail(for those without ftp access) send email to:

the body of the message should read:

send usenet/news.answers/games/chess/part1

Parts 2,3 and 4 can be obtained the same way as part 1.

What's New:

FIDE ratings updated.

Table of Contents

Organizations: International, National, Local, and Mail/E-Mail

* [1] Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE)

* [2] The United States Chess Federation (USCF)

* [3] Chess Federation of Canada (CFC)

* [4] Other Chess Federations

* [5] State and Local Organizations (USA)

* [6] Correspondence Organizations

* [7] Web Sites (WWW)

Ratings and Titles

* [8] Ratings (with FIDE list)

* [9] How USCF Ratings are Calculated(USCF)

* [10] How USCF Lifetime Titles are Earned(CFC)


* [11] Tournaments

* [12] The Swiss Tournament Pairing System


* [13.1] I'm a Novice/Intermediate. How Do I Improve?

* [13.2] New To The Net & Chess. What Do I Do?

* [14] Recommended Openings (and Books) for Novice to Intermediate


* [15] Publications

* [16] Where to Get Books and Equipment

Publicly available playing, e-mail lists, or material

* [17] E-Mail Games, ICS, Mailing Lists, Gopher, Usenet Reader

* [18] Material Available via Anonymous FTP

Commercially available playing or material

* [19] Chess-Playing Computers

* [20] Chess-Playing Software

* [21] Database Software

* [22] Utility Software


* [23] Using Graphic Chess Symbols in Printed Text

* [24] Trivia

* [25] Common Acronyms

* [26] Rules

* [27] Variants

* [28] Disclaimer and Copyright Notice

Subject: [1] Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE)

FIDE (pronounced "fee-day") is an international chess organization that
organizes tournaments, grants titles, and controls the World
Championship cycle of FIDE. For an example of how politics works in any
organization read the latest happennings in

FIDE grants three over-the-board titles: FIDE Master (FM), International
Master (IM), and Grandmaster (GM). FM can be obtained by keeping your
FIDE rating over 2300 for 25 games. IM and GM titles require
performances at certain levels for 25-30 games (2450 for IM and 2600 for
GM). This is usually achieved by obtaining several "norms." A norm is
obtained when a player makes at least a given score in a FIDE
tournament. The required score is a function of the number of rounds and
the strength of the opposition. There are also minimum rating
requirements. There are about 35 GM's, 60 IM's, and 100 FM's living in
the U.S., not all of whom are active players.

FIDE also grants titles for which only women are eligible: FIDE Woman
Master, Woman International Master (WIM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM).
Women are also eligible for the other titles.

FIDE also grants titles for Chess Composition, Composition Judging,
Tournament Direction (as "Arbiter"), and Correspondence Chess. Another
title one may obtain is "International Organiser".

Subject: [2] The United States Chess Federation (USCF)

* United States Chess Federation Home Page (USCF)

The UNITED STATES CHESS FEDERATION (USCF) is the governing organization
for chess in America. A not-for-profit corporation, it has more than
80,000 paid members. Its membership spans every state and territory of
the U.S.

It does several things: (1) computes ratings for players who play in
USCF-rated tournaments, (2) publishes a monthly magazine called _Chess
Life_, (3) sponsors national over-the-board tournaments such as the
National Open and the U.S. Open, and a variety of correspondence
(postal) tournaments, and (4) officially represents the interests of
chess in the U.S. to international chess organizations. Most
over-the-board tournaments held in the U.S. are USCF-rated. This means
that to play in them, you must join the USCF (this can normally be done
at the tournament site if you prefer). _Chess Life_ includes a listing,
sorted by state, of USCF-rated tournaments to be held in the following
few months. It periodically publishes the addresses of all state

There are nearly 2,000 USCF-affiliated chess clubs, and more than
100,000 chess players participate in USCF events every year. The
official publication, Chess Life, is distributed nationally every month
to more than 250,000 readers.

The USCF was founded in 1939 and grew gradually until 1972, when
membership doubled due to interest in Bobby Fischer's rise to the World
Championship. The last five years have seen the rolls swell by nearly 50
percent, spurred by the growth of scholastic chess and the spread of
chess computers.

The USCF sanctions thousands of chess tournaments with a half-million
rated games each year. It is the organizer of 25 national championship
events including the US Championship, the US Women's Championship, and
the Amateur, Junior and Senior championships. The USCF sponsors the
National Scholastic Championships which annually draw over 3,000

USCF also sponsors American participation in international events. The
United States Team is the current World Champion, winning in Zurich in
1993 ahead of Russia, the Ukraine and six other finalists. Thirty-one of
the world's 415 grandmasters are Americans.

The USCF rating system, developed by statistician Arpad Elo in the early
60s, rates the performance of chessplayers in sanctioned tournaments.
Most ratings fall between 400 and 2600, with an average of about 1350.
The highest rated player in the US is Grandmaster Gata Kamsky, rated
2784 as of June 1997. In 1970, the World Chess Federation adopted the
USCF rating method for international events. In 1993, World Champion
Gary Kasparov achieved the highest international rating ever, 2805,
breaking Bobby Fischer's 1972 record of 2785. In 1997, Kasparov broke
his own record and achieved a rating of 2820. (The next highest player,
Vladimir Kramnik, was rated 2770 on the same list.)

The USCF national office is located at: 3054 NYS Rt 9W, New Windsor, NY
12553. Phone: 845-562-8350.

Memberships can be obtained and orders taken by calling 800-388-KING.

Subject: [3] Chess Federation of Canada (CFC)

The CFC maintains ratings of all players in good standing, runs
tournaments, attempts to promote chess in Canada, and sells equipment to
both members and non-members. Members get a subscription to _En
Passant_, a bimonthly magazine. The rating system used by the CFC is the
Elo system, also used by the USCF and FIDE. Local variations make CFC
ratings from 25-200 points lower than USCF ratings for players of
similar ability.

Write to: Chess Federation of Canada, 2212 Gladwin Crescent, E-1(b),
Ottawa, Ontario, K1B 5N1, Canada. Phone 613-733-2844; fax 613-733-5209.

Subject: [4] Other Chess Federations

Argentine Chess Federation Austrian Chess
Federation Italian Chess Federation German Chess Federation

Subject: [5] State and Local Organizations (USA)

Every state has its own chess organization affiliated with USCF, and
most also have a bimonthly or quarterly publication. The state
organizations are listed in the annual _Chess Life_ yearbook issue
(April). From these state organizations, information can be obtained on
local chess clubs. Another good way to find a local club is to look at
the tournament listings in the back of every _Chess Life_.

Subject: [6] Correspondence Organizations

International Correspondence Chess Federation and

The ICCF aim is to promote International Correspondence Chess as a way
to meet and establish friendships with people throughout the world in
peaceful competition. There is only one language on the chess board.

More Contact information is available online .

Links on International Correspondence chess are also online .

Subject:[7] Web Sites (WWW)

Web Sites (WWW)

Steve Pribut's Chess Page
The Week In Chess TWIC - Mark Crowther

Internet Chess Library at UPitt



Internet Chess Club

Chess.Net Live Chess

Chess Politics (US) http://www.chess Chess Cafe

Russell Hanon

Tim Krabbe

Chesslab Search Database of 2 Million Games

Subject: [8] Ratings

Different countries have different rating systems. The most common
system in use is called the Elo system, named after its inventor. An
excellent book on the subject is _The Rating of Chessplayers, Past &
Present_ by Arpad E. Elo (copyright 1978; ISBN 0-668-04721-6). FIDE and
the USCF use the Elo system, although in the USCF there have been some
adjustments and additions in the past which have distorted USCF ratings
vis-a-vis systems which have been "pure Elo" forever. The latest FIDE
lists are online at

FIDE Ratings Top 100 Players October 2002

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Day
1 Kasparov, Garry g RUS 2836 0 1963-04-13
2 Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2809 0 1975-06-25
3 Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2755 0 1969-12-11
4 Adams, Michael g ENG 2745 6 1971-11-17
5 Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2743 14 1975-03-15
6 Leko, Peter g HUN 2743 13 1979-09-08
7 Ponomariov, Ruslan g UKR 2743 0 1983-10-11
8 Bareev, Evgeny g RUS 2737 10 1966-11-21
9 Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2709 2 1969-03-18
10 Morozevich, Alexander g RUS 2707 6 1977-07-18
11 Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2704 6 1968-06-24
12 Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2702 0 1983-10-31
13 Shirov, Alexei g ESP 2699 9 1972-07-04
14 Khalifman, Alexander g RUS 2690 0 1966-01-18
15 Svidler, Peter g RUS 2690 0 1976-06-17
16 Akopian, Vladimir g ARM 2689 0 1971-12-07
17 Karpov, Anatoly g RUS 2688 1 1951-05-23
18 Polgar, Judit (GM) wg HUN 2685 2 1976-07-23
19 Sokolov, Ivan g NED 2684 27 1968-06-13
20 Short, Nigel D. g ENG 2684 9 1965-06-01
21 Smirin, Ilia g ISR 2683 14 1968-01-21
22 Van Wely, Loek g NED 2681 18 1972-10-07
23 Zvjaginsev, Vadim g RUS 2680 9 1976-08-18
24 Dreev, Alexey g RUS 2673 19 1969-01-30
25 Almasi, Zoltan g HUN 2672 0 1976-08-29
26 Sasikiran, Krishnan g IND 2670 28 1981-01-07
27 Malakhov, Vladimir g RUS 2670 6 1980-11-27
28 Vaganian, Rafael A g ARM 2667 9 1951-10-15
29 Ye, Jiangchuan g CHN 2667 4 1960-11-20
30 Azmaiparashvili, Zurab g GEO 2666 15 1960-03-16
31 Lautier, Joel g FRA 2665 0 1973-04-12
32 Rublevsky, Sergei g RUS 2664 9 1974-10-15
33 Nikolic, Predrag g BIH 2661 0 1960-09-11
34 Georgiev, Kiril g MKD 2658 0 1965-11-28
35 Sutovsky, Emil g ISR 2657 20 1977-09-19
36 Bacrot, Etienne g FRA 2653 0 1983-01-22
37 Kasimdzhanov, Rustam g UZB 2653 0 1979-12-05
38 Krasenkow, Michal g POL 2651 20 1963-11-14
39 Movsesian, Sergei g SVK 2651 16 1978-11-03
40 Beliavsky, Alexander G g SLO 2650 27 1953-12-17
41 Onischuk, Alexander g USA 2649 33 1975-09-03
42 Sakaev, Konstantin g RUS 2647 0 1974-04-13
43 Kaidanov, Gregory S g USA 2646 25 1959-10-11
44 Piket, Jeroen g NED 2646 0 1969-01-27
45 Lutz, Christopher g GER 2645 12 1971-02-24
46 Xu, Jun g CHN 2643 13 1962-09-17
47 Volkov, Sergey g RUS 2642 13 1974-02-07
48 Huebner, Robert Dr. g GER 2640 7 1948-11-06
49 Graf, Alexander g GER 2635 29 1962-08-25
50 Vallejo Pons, Francisco g ESP 2635 10 1982-08-21
51 Gurevich, Mikhail g BEL 2634 42 1959-02-22
52 Korchnoi, Viktor g SUI 2634 19 1931-03-23
53 Hjartarson, Johann g ISL 2634 0 1963-02-08
54 Motylev, Alexander g RUS 2634 0 1979-06-17
55 Landa, Konstantin g RUS 2632 11 1972-05-22
56 Tkachiev, Vladislav g FRA 2632 10 1973-11-09
57 Tiviakov, Sergei g NED 2631 37 1973-02-14
58 Goldin, Alexander g USA 2630 28 1965-02-27
59 Seirawan, Yasser g USA 2629 11 1960-03-24
60 Epishin, Vladimir g RUS 2628 38 1965-07-11
61 Radjabov, Teimour g AZE 2628 8 1987-03-12
62 Bologan, Viktor g MDA 2627 9 1971-12-14
63 Lputian, Smbat G g ARM 2627 0 1958-02-14
64 Kobalia, Mikhail g RUS 2625 0 1978-05-03
65 Lastin, Alexander g RUS 2625 0 1976-10-30
66 Sadler, Matthew g ENG 2624 0 1974-05-15
67 Jussupow, Artur g GER 2622 9 1960-02-13
68 Pigusov, Evgeny g RUS 2622 0 1961-03-31
69 Shabalov, Alexander g USA 2621 29 1967-09-12
70 Aleksandrov, Aleksej g BLR 2621 22 1973-05-11
71 Milov, Vadim g SUI 2620 34 1972-08-01
72 Nielsen, Peter Heine g DEN 2620 29 1973-05-24
73 Zhang, Zhong g CHN 2620 13 1978-09-05
74 Fressinet, Laurent g FRA 2619 0 1981-11-01
75 Dautov, Rustem g GER 2617 0 1965-11-28
76 Dorfman, Josif D g FRA 2617 0 1953-05-01
77 Macieja, Bartlomiej g POL 2615 29 1977-10-04
78 Istratescu, Andrei g ROM 2615 23 1975-12-03
79 Filippov, Valerij g RUS 2615 0 1975-11-28
80 Vescovi, Giovanni g BRA 2614 9 1978-06-14
81 Bruzon, Lazaro g CUB 2613 16 1982-05-02
82 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter g ROM 2613 0 1976-08-01
83 Nunn, John D.M. g ENG 2611 0 1955-04-25
84 Hansen, Curt g DEN 2610 9 1964-09-18
85 Benjamin, Joel g USA 2609 13 1964-03-11
86 Dominguez, Lenier g CUB 2608 20 1983-09-23
87 Hodgson, Julian M. g ENG 2608 0 1963-07-25
88 Baklan, Vladimir g UKR 2607 14 1978-02-25
89 Agrest, Evgenij g SWE 2607 13 1966-08-15
90 Hracek, Zbynek g CZE 2607 12 1970-09-09
91 Kharlov, Andrei g RUS 2606 13 1968-11-20
92 Hickl, Joerg g GER 2605 7 1965-04-16
93 Shipov, Sergei g RUS 2604 2 1966-04-17
94 Kazhgaleyev, Murtas g KAZ 2604 0
95 Ftacnik, Lubomir g SVK 2603 22 1957-10-30
96 Khenkin, Igor g GER 2603 20 1968-03-21
97 Peng, Xiaomin g CHN 2602 0 1973-04-08
98 Neverov, Valeriy g UKR 2601 27 1964-06-21
99 Giorgadze, Giorgi g GEO 2601 19 1964-10-10
100 Bu, Xiangzhi g CHN 2601 12 1985-12-10
101 Ehlvest, Jaan g EST 2600 37 1962-10-14
102 Eingorn, Vereslav S g UKR 2600 18 1956-11-23

Top 50 Women October 2002

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Day
1 Polgar, Judit (GM) wg HUN 2685 2 1976-07-23
2 Xie, Jun (GM) wg CHN 2569 2 1970-10-30
3 Stefanova, Antoaneta (GM) wg BUL 2541 43 1979-04-19
4 Zhu, Chen (GM) wg CHN 2509 4 1976-03-16
5 Chiburdanidze, Maia (GM) wg GEO 2497 13 1961-01-17
6 Skripchenko-Lautier, Almira wg FRA 2497 0 1976-02-17
7 Galliamova, Alisa (IM) wg RUS 2496 9 1972-01-18
8 Ioseliani, Nana (IM) wg GEO 2491 0 1962-02-12
9 Wang, Lei wg CHN 2490 0 1975-02-04
10 Koneru, Humpy wg IND 2484 11 1987-03-31
11 Peptan, Corina (IM) wg ROM 2479 9 1978-03-17
12 Wang, Pin wg CHN 2473 13 1974-12-11
13 Xu, Yuhua wg CHN 2473 0 1976-10-29
14 Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina wg RUS 2466 18 1974-04-17
15 Matveeva, Svetlana wg RUS 2465 9 1969-07-04
16 Polgar, Sofia (IM) wg HUN 2462 0 1974-11-02
17 Kosteniuk, Alexandra (IM) wg RUS 2455 13 1984-04-23 18
Khurtsidze, Nino (IM) wg GEO 2455 0 1975-09-28 19 Peng, Zhaoqin
(IM) wg NED 2443 10 1968-05-08 20 Kachiani-G., Ketino (IM) wg
GER 2439 0 1971-09-11 21 Zhukova, Natalia wg UKR 2436 21
1979-06-05 22 Maric, Alisa (IM) wg YUG 2434 8 1970-01-10 23
Alexandrova, Olga (IM) wg UKR 2430 35 1978-01-28 24 Cosma, Elena
Luminita wg ROM 2430 24 1972-01-22 25 Zielinska, Marta wg POL
2430 9 1978-01-30 26 Sedina, Elena (IM) wg ITA 2428 25
1968-06-01 27 Kosintseva, Tatiana wg RUS 2427 9 1986-04-11 28
Bojkovic, Natasa wg YUG 2424 0 1971-09-03 29 Radziewicz, Iweta
(IM) wg POL 2421 43 1981-03-16 30 Zatonskih, Anna wg UKR 2421
0 1978-07-17 31 Hoang Thanh Trang (IM) wg VIE 2420 13 1980-04-25
32 Vasilevich, Tatjana (IM) wg UKR 2415 8 1977-01-14 33
Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan (IM) wg GEO 2413 0 1968-07-19 34
Gaponenko, Inna wg UKR 2411 18 1976-06-22 35 Galianina-Ryjanova,
Julia wg RUS 2409 23 1974-05-15 36 Mkrtchian, Lilit wg ARM
2409 4 1982-08-09 37 Foisor, Cristina Adela (IM) wg ROM 2408 16
1967-04-07 38 Prudnikova, Svetlana wg YUG 2407 0 1967-03-18 39
Hunt, Harriet (IM) wg ENG 2406 7 1978-02-04 40 Lymar, Irina wg
UKR 2405 13 1974-10-20 41 Krush, Irina (IM) wm USA 2403 6
1983-12-24 42 Stepovaia-Dianchenko, Tatiana wg RUS 2398 0
1965-09-23 43 Lomineishvili, Maia wg GEO 2397 8 1977-11-11 44
Houska, Jovanka wg ENG 2397 0 1980-06-10 45 Pogonina, Natalija
wf RUS 2397 0 1985-03-09 46 Vijayalakshmi, Subbaraman (IM) wg
IND 2394 27 1979-03-25 47 Matnadze, Ana wg GEO 2392 26
1983-02-20 48 Ning, Chunhong wg CHN 2390 0 1968-01-21 49
Dworakowska, Joanna (IM) wg POL 2389 12 1978-10-21 50 Danielian,
Elina wg ARM 2389 8 1978-08-16

FIDE/International Ratings

2600+ World Championship Contenders 'Super Grandmasters'
2400+ Grandmasters (GM) and most International Masters (IM)
2200+ Most National Masters
2000+ Expert
1800+ Amateur Class A
1600+ Amateur Class B
1400+ Amateur Class C
1200+ Amateur Class D
1200 Beginner Class E

One question which often arises is: Do Elo historical ratings of famous
players of the past enable us to predict how well they would do against
present day players? Some discussion of this issue occurred in (the now
discontinued) _Chess Notes_ in 1988.

Edward Winter wrote, "Elo's retrospective rankings look less and less
convincing the more one studies them. For example, George Walker is
attributed 2360, the same as George Botterill in January 1988 (who has
thus had the benefit of insight into a century and a half of chess
development since Walker's time)." Ken Whyld responded this "shows a
misunderstanding of ELO. The ratings do not reflect how a player from a
past age would fare against a present-day player. . . . Elo's figures
measure competitive ability, NOT the quality of play. . . . In chess we
can only know the standing of players within the pool of which they are
a part. It is idle speculation to make comparisons between discrete
periods." Arpad Elo himself then got into the discussion, saying, "The
historical ratings have generated controversy partly because people
misunderstand what they represent . . . Mr. Ken Whyld . . . correctly
points out how ratings should be viewed, i.e., as a measure of
competitive ability, and that proper comparisons can be made only
between players of the same milieu. . . . There is also a fundamental
point that should not be overlooked: the rating scale itself is an
arbitrary scale, open ended, . . . with no reproducible fixed points."

The Performance Rating Formula/(The Periodic Rating Formula)

First equation of the Elo system:

Rp = Rc + D(P)

Rp - Performance rating.
Rc - (Average) Competition/Opposition rating.
D(P) - Rating difference based on percentage score P

This equation is used to determine ratings on a periodic basis (at
certain time intervals). It may also be used to determine provisional
ratings for players having less than a certain number of games versus
rated players.

Also visit for a
reasonably understandable outline of the system. FIDE has provided its
handbook online for details on its system:

Subject: [9] How USCF Ratings are Calculated

The following is a simplified version of how the USCF rating system
works; for a full version, write to the USCF (see [2]).

*** For the first 20 games (provisional rating): ***

Take the rating of the opponent +400 if the player wins. Take the rating
of the opponent -400 if the player loses. Take the rating of the
opponent if the game is a draw. Average these numbers. (If unrated
players play other unrated players, this requires several iterations of
the above.) *** After 20 games (established rating): *** The maximum
amount a player can win or lose per game (called the "K" factor) varies
according to rating. Players rated under 2100 have a 32-point maximum;
players rated 2100-2399 have a 24-point maximum, and players rated 2400
and up have a 16-point maximum. (In a "1/2 K" tournament, divide these
maximums by two (?).)

If players of equal rating play, the loser loses half of the maximum,
the winner gains the same amount. No change for a draw. If players of
unequal rating play, the higher-rated player gains fewer points for a
win, but loses more points for a loss. (The lower-rated player does the
opposite, of course.) A higher-rated player loses points for a draw; a
lower-rated player gains points. For players rated 400 or so points
apart, the maximum rating change is used for an upset, and the minimum
gain/loss is 1 point if the much higher-rated player wins.

The true formula for the number of points won/lost versus the ratings
difference is a curve, but a straight-line approximation for players
with a K factor of 32 points can be used, where every 25 points of
ratings difference is one additional rating point gained/lost starting
from a beginning of 16 points for a win/loss, and from zero for a draw.
(I.e., for a 100-point difference, the higher-rated player gains 16 - 4
= 12 points for a win, but loses 16 + 4 = 20 points for a loss. If a
draw, the higher-rated player loses 4 points, the lower-rated player
gains 4.) The actual formula is as follows:

K = K factor
delta_R = (Opponent's rating) - (Player's rating)
Expected_Wins = 1/(10^(delta_R / 400) + 1)
New_Rating = (Current rating) + K * ((Actual wins) - (Expected_Wins))
Rounds Delta 4 .7 5 .6 6 .5 7 .4 8 .3 9+ .2

Also, norms may be earned if the delta is met as well as exceeded. An
established player's rating cannot drop below (his rating - 100)
truncated to the next lowest hundred (i.e., a 1571 player cannot drop
below 1400). This is called the rating's "floor."

Subject: [10] How USCF Lifetime Titles are Earned

USCF's class title norm system is similar to the system FIDE uses to
determine GM and IM titles (see [1]). There is no time limit for
accumulating points towards USCF titles. There are two titles per class
from E to Expert: "Certified" and "Advanced." Master-level titles have a
different naming scheme: 2200 is "Life Master," followed by "1-Star Life
Master" at 2300, "2-Star Life Master" at 2400, etc. Points are earned
toward titles by exceeding the expected score of a player with the
minimum rating of that level by a certain number of points. Rules:

1. A norm can be earned only in events of four rounds or greater. (Norms
cannot be earned by playing a rated match.)

2. A minimum score of two game points in the event is required, not
counting unplayed games.

3. Ten "norm points" are required for a title.

4. Making a norm earns two points toward the title for that level.

5. A player who does not have the title 100 points below the norm level
also earns five points towards that title.

6. A player who does not have the title 200 points below the norm level
automatically achieves that title.

7. A player who achieves an established rating, but not the title
corresponding to 100 points below this rating, is awarded that title.

8. Only established rated players can earn titles. The Life Master title
may still be earned by playing 300 games at the 2200 level. After 1996,
this title may only be earned through the norm system. For a full
description of the system, see _Chess Life_ May 1992.

Subject: [11] Tournaments

Chess tournaments can be large (1000 players) or small (10 players or
even less); long (1 round per day for 2 weeks) or short (a few rounds in
one day). There are tournaments only for Masters and tournaments only
for beginners, although most tournaments are open to anyone.

A typical _Chess Life_ will list about 350 tournaments coming up in the
U.S. in the next couple of months, and there will be about the same
number which are unlisted. If you want to participate in a tournament
but are intimidated because you don't know the procedures, by all means
go and ask the director and/or other players questions before things
begin. They'll be glad to help. A typical tournament announcement will
contain the following: (1) Date(s) and name of the tournament. (2) What
kind of tournament it is, e.g., 4-SS or 3-RR. The number given denotes
how many rounds will be played. "SS" stands for Swiss System, which is a
method of pairing the contestants (see [12]). "RR" stands for
round-robin, a format in which the players are divided into groups of
similar ratings before the tournament begins, and then each member of a
group plays every other member of that group. Thus, in a 3-RR, the group
size will be four. The Swiss System is by far the most popular in the

(3) The time controls, e.g., "30/60, SD/60" or "G/60" or "20/1, 30/1."
The number on the left is the number of moves, and the number on the
right is the time in minutes, or if that number is 1 or 2, in hours.
"SD" stands for "sudden death," and "G" stands for game. Where more than
one time control is listed, they are the controls which will take effect
as the game progresses. So, the three examples given above can be
explained as follows. In the first example, the players would each get
60 minutes on their clocks, and would have to have made their 30th moves
before the 60 minutes expires (your clock only runs when it is your turn
to move). Then, they each have another 60 minutes to finish the game
completely. Time left over from the first time control carries over to
subsequent time controls. In the second example, each player would begin
with 60 minutes on his clock, and would have to finish the game within
that time. In the third example, the players would each get 1 hour for
the first 20 moves, 1 hour for the next 30 moves, and another hour for
every subsequent group of 30 moves.

(4) The location of the tournament.

(5) The entry fee, sometimes by section (see item 7).

(6) The total prize fund (if any), either "guaranteed" (G) or based on a
certain number of entries (e.g., b/30). The difference is guaranteed
prizes must be paid, and "based on" prizes need only be paid in full if
the stated number of players enter. If the stated number of players do
not enter, the prize fund is reduced proportionally, but only down to a
minimum of 50%.

(7) Sections, if any. If none are listed, the tournament is an "open."
"Open" sections are always open to *any* player. Other sections may be
restricted to players below a certain rating, and/or occasionally above
a certain rating. Sometimes sections (or whole tournaments) are
restricted to certain age groups, school grades, etc. "Class"
tournaments separate players by USCF rating classes. Sometimes different
sections carry different entry fees.

(8) Prize fund breakdown (if any). If the tournament is in sections,
each section shows its own prize fund. In an small open, a typical prize
fund might look like this: $140-100-70, A 50, B 45, C 40, D/E/Unr. 35,
Jrs. 20. This means first prize is $140, second is $100, and third is
$70. The top Class A player gets $50, etc. The top player in the
combined classes of D, E, and unrated players gets $35, and the top
Junior (under age 21) gets $20.

(9) The registration time and time the rounds will begin.

(10) Where to send an advance entry fee, and/or who to contact for more

Subject: [12] The Swiss Tournament Pairing System

The best way to get the rules for a Swiss System is to buy a copy of the
USCF rulebook, available for about $7.95. However, a VERY simplified
summary of the USCF rules is:

1. Arrange players in order by rating, highest to lowest, unrated either
at the bottom or by estimated rating.

2. For round 1, divide into two stacks. The top players in EACH stack
play each other, then the second players in each stack play each other,
etc. This results in the highest-rated player playing the middle-rated

3. After round one, divide up by score groups. Win=1, Draw=1/2, Loss=0.

4. Pair up each score group as in step 2. If an odd number, the bottom
person in higher point group plays top person in next score group. If
odd number in lowest score group, lowest rated player gets a full point
bye. (Limit players to one bye each.)

5. Where possible, players should alternate color, or at least equalize.
(By round 4, players ideally should have had two Whites, two Blacks.)

6. Players NEVER play the same opponent more than once. If necessary,
pair players with someone in next lower score group. (Treat as if odd

7. To improve on color allocation as per step 5, if two players in the
bottom half of a score group are rated within 100 points, they can be
interchanged. (If rated over 2100, 50 points is a better cutoff.)

-------------------------------- The FAQ is compiled and posted by
Stephen Pribut at

Copyright (c), 1997-2003 Stephen M. Pribut. Permission to
copy all or part of this work is granted for individual use, and for
copies within a scholastic or academic setting. Copies may not be made
or distributed for resale. The no warranty, and copyright notice must be
retained verbatim and be displayed conspicuously. You need written
authorization before you can include this FAQ in a book and/or a CDROM
archive, and/or make a translation, and/or publish/mirror on a website
(scholastic and academic use excepted). If anyone needs other
permissions that aren't covered by the above, please contact the author.

No Warranty This work is provided on an "as is" basis. The copyright
holder makes no warranty whatsoever, either express or implied,
regarding the work, including warranties with respect to merchantability
or fitness for any purpose.

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