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rec.games.chess Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions (with answers) for Chess Players _____________________________________________________ ________| rgcm Chess FAQ (Rec.games.chess.misc FAQ) |________ \ | http://www.drpribut.com/sports/chess.html | / \ | Last modified DEC 15, 2002 Stephen M. Pribut | / / |_____________________________________________________| \ /___________) (__________\ Rec.games.chess.misc FAQ Chess Info from rec.games.chess.misc by Stephen Pribut ("mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org") WELCOME: 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 rec.games.chess. 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 section. Part 3 is about how to improve and chess related supplies including computers, software, etc. Part 4 contains miscellaneous material. The rec.games.chess USENET group is now a hierarchy of 5 groups: * rec.games.chess.misc * rec.games.chess.play-by-e-mail * rec.games.chess.computer * rec.games.chess.politics * rec.games.chess.analysis This FAQ contains an overview of all areas of chess. FAQ's specific to each of the above areas will be posted. The rec.games.chess.computer 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 rec.games.chess, 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 rec.games.chess 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 rec.games.chess). How to get the FAQ: This document is posted twice monthly to the Usenet newgroups rec.games.chess, rec.answers, and news.answers. Other ways to obtain the faq: at my website: Steve Pribut's Chess page (http://www.drpribut.com/sports/chess.html ) Anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu (220.127.116.11) and get the files ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/games/chess/part1 ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/games/chess/part2 ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/games/chess/part3 ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/games/chess/part4 E-mail(for those without ftp access) send email to: email@example.com 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 *  Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) *  The United States Chess Federation (USCF) *  Chess Federation of Canada (CFC) *  Other Chess Federations *  State and Local Organizations (USA) *  Correspondence Organizations *  Web Sites (WWW) Ratings and Titles *  Ratings (with FIDE list) *  How USCF Ratings are Calculated(USCF) *  How USCF Lifetime Titles are Earned(CFC) Tournaments *  Tournaments *  The Swiss Tournament Pairing System Self-Improvement * [13.1] I'm a Novice/Intermediate. How Do I Improve? * [13.2] New To The Net & Chess. What Do I Do? *  Recommended Openings (and Books) for Novice to Intermediate Supplies *  Publications *  Where to Get Books and Equipment Publicly available playing, e-mail lists, or material *  E-Mail Games, ICS, Mailing Lists, Gopher, Usenet Reader *  Material Available via Anonymous FTP Commercially available playing or material *  Chess-Playing Computers *  Chess-Playing Software *  Database Software *  Utility Software Miscellaneous *  Using Graphic Chess Symbols in Printed Text *  Trivia *  Common Acronyms *  Rules *  Variants *  Disclaimer and Copyright Notice Subject:  Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) http://www.fide.org/ 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 rec.games.chess.politics. 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:  The United States Chess Federation (USCF) * United States Chess Federation Home Page (USCF) http://www.uschess.org/ 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 players. 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:  Chess Federation of Canada (CFC) http://www.chess.ca/ 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:  Other Chess Federations Argentine Chess Federation http://www.adrianroldan.com/ Austrian Chess Federation http://www.chess.at/ Italian Chess Federation http://www.federscacchi.it/ German Chess Federation http://www.schachbund.de/ Subject:  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:  Correspondence Organizations International Correspondence Chess Federation http://www.iccf.com/ and http://www.iccfus.com/links.htm 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 http://www.iccfus.com/info.htm . Links on International Correspondence chess are also online http://www.iccfus.com/links.htm . Subject: Web Sites (WWW) Web Sites (WWW) Steve Pribut's Chess Page http://www.drpribut.com/sports/chess.html The Week In Chess TWIC - Mark Crowther http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.html Internet Chess Library at UPitt http://www.pitt.edu/~schach/Archives/index2.html Chessopolis http://www.chessopolis.com/ Chessbase http://www.chessbase.com/ Internet Chess Club http://www.chessclub.org/from/fineygan Chess.Net Live Chess http://www.chess.net/ Chess Politics (US) http://www.chess Chess Cafe Russell Hanon http://www.chesscafe.com/ Tim Krabbe http://www.xs4all.nl/~timkr/chess/chess.html Chesslab Search Database of 2 Million Games http://www.chesslab.com/PositionSearch.html Subject:  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 http://www.vogclub.com/ratings/elodetails.phtml for a reasonably understandable outline of the system. FIDE has provided its handbook online for details on its system: http://handbook.fide.com/handbook.cgi?level=B&level=02&level=10& Subject:  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 ). *** 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:  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 ). 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:  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 ). "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 U.S. (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 information. Subject:  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 player. 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 number.) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 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