UCSF Posts

Chess Noob #20 – Ratings

As has been previously mentioned, most tournaments pair you with players of similar ratings.  But what exactly IS a rating?  What does it mean?  How is it tabulated? Can YOU become a Grandmaster?

A rating is a 3-4 digit number associated with a player to showcase their playing strength.  The higher the number, the better the player… the lower the number, weaker the player.  The lowest possible rating is 100.  The highest possible rating (in theory) is 3000, although the highest rating any chess player has managed to achieve was 2851 which was held by the World Champion at the time, Garry Kasparov.  Pretty straight forward right?  But with such a huge difference in highest possible and lowest possible, how can you tell if your rating is any good and where you stand in the grand scheme of things?

FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation) and the USCF (United States Chess Federation) use similar ratings for classes of player.  Those classes are as follows:

2600 or more are World Championship Contenders.  2400-2600 are where most Senior Masters (SMs), International Masters (IMs), and Grandmasters (GMs) are rated.  2300-2400 is the ratings for most FIDE Masters (FMs).  2200-2300 are ratings where you’ll find most National Masters (NMs) and FIDE Candidate Masters (CMs).  2000-2200 is considered Expert.  1800-2000 are Class A.  1600-1800 are Class B.  1400-1600 are Class C. 1200-1400 are Class D.  In FIDE, anyone under 1200 is simply considered a Novice, although in the USCF, the classes continue. 1000-1200 is Class E.  800-1000 is Class F. 600-800 is Class G.  400-600 is Class H. 200-400 is Class I.  100-200 is Class J.  As mentioned before, 100 is the lowest possible rating a chess player can get (I’d thought that while 100 is techncially possible that nobody with a 100 rating existed… but at the World Open in the U900 section there was one player with a rating of 101 and another with a rating of 104… I was surprised to say the least).

Despite the above, a high rating is not the only thing you need to achieve a Grandmaster title.  You also need to get Grandmaster Norms.  Norms are hard to get.  There are very specific rules to get norms, which you if  can find out for yourself by visiting this link:  http://www.fide.com/component/handbook/?id=58&view=article  but basically you have to do very well in a long tournament against at least 3 other Grandmasters.

So how are chess ratings figured out?  Well, I don’t want to bore you with a big equation (because, frankly, the actual equation used boggles my own mind), but basically at each tournament, you’re give a “K-factor” number which is based on your rating at the start of the tournament and how many rounds there will be in the tournament.  Then, each round, there is a table that’s used (that you can find if you check the USCF rule book or the FIDE rulebook out of your local library) where each round you find your K-factor, then find the point difference between you and your opponent (so if you’re rated 1100 and your opponent is 1200, you’re looking for a difference of 100).  It will then tell you how many rating points each player will gain or lose if a) the higher rated person wins, b) the lower rated person wins, or c) the game ends in a draw.  In the case of a draw, the higher rated player loses points and the lower rated player gains points, bringing the two players’ ratings closer together.

There’s not much reason to know exactly how to tabulate your ratings, though, as most tournaments will post results (and new ratings) to FIDE or USCF and will soon become viewable.  The USCF, for instance, posts results and new ratings within 2 days after every chess tournament.

The USCF publishes new official ratings for players every month.  FIDE publishes new official ratings every 2 months.  So you’ll never have to be a certain rating for very long (good news for those trying to get over a certain rating “hump”).

Hopefully all this wasn’t too confusing.  If it was…. don’t sweat it… just go and play chess with the knowledge that your rating will get better the more games you win!

Have a question or topic you want me to cover in a future edition of Chess Noob?  E-mail me at flannelmann@yahoo.com

sooooo many ties!

Just like there were sooooo many players in the World Open, there were soooo many ties for various prizes in every section.  Not one person swept their section (although one player in one section came very close), and there were often 2, 3 and even 8 way ties for each place in each section.

This particular blog is much less of a blog, and much more of a results recap.  Personally, I only won 4.5 out of 9 games (I ended up with 3 wins, 3 losses and 3 draws).  So I only came in 39th place in my section.  Here’s how some other people did:

Under 900: James K Snee (rated 844) from Louisiana, USA took 1st place in the under 900 section winning 8 out of 9 games.  The only player in that section that bested Snee was Pennsylvania player Ithan Sandoval-Lorenzo who only managed to come in 12th place (just short of being able to take home prize money).  David Wu from New York came in 2nd place with 7.5 out of 9.  Tied for 3rd with 7 out of 9 each were Charity Brickman from New York and Leighton E Barrett from Jamaica.  And the top 10 was completed with a 7-way tie for 3rd (making 1 person win money but not technically being in the top 10).

Under 1200: In the under 1200 section, there was a 2-way tie for 1st place between Jason Lawson from Jamaica and Efthymios Papageorgiou from New York.  Both players, however, had provisional ratings based on less than 26 tournament games.  This fact made both players only eligable for up to $1500… so while the top prize was $5,000 for the section, each were only allowed $1500 for their scores of 7.5 out of 9.  What happens to the left over money?  It went to lower places, allowing for many more people to walk away with prize money!  There was a 3-way tie for 2nd place with scores of 7 out of 9, then a 6-way tie for third place and finally a 9-way tie for 3rd place where each person in the 9-way tie took home a mere $28.12.

Under 1400: Top prize in the Under 1400 section went to Manuel J Then of New York with 8 out of 9 wins.  This is even more impressive when you consider that he was the 11th lowest rated person in the section at 1200 (his new rating after the tournament is 1583)!  Second place went to Evan B Mossman of Pennsylvania with 7.5 out of 9, followed by a 4-way tie for third, a 4-way tie for 4th and a 5-way tie for 5th place.

Under 1600: The 1st place prize for the Under 1600 section went to Ryan Arab, a buddy of mine from my local chess club.  He did better than anyone in any section in the entire tournament with a whopping 8.5 out of 9 wins!  The closest anyone came to beating Ryan was Carlos D Hoyos who managed to get a draw with Ryan, but only managed to be part of a 9-way tie for 4th.  In between were ties for both 2nd and 3rd.

Under 1800: Eimer A Romero took 1st place in the U1800 section with 8 out of 9.  Below him was a 2 way tie for 2nd, a 5-way tie for 3rd and a 9-way tie for 4th.

Under 2000:Jesus Orozco from California took 1st place in the U2000 section with 8 of 9 wins.  Two players managed to get draws from Jesus, one of which tied for 3rd place (along with five other players) and a player who did not even come close to placing in the top 10!  Jesus took home nearly $11,000!  Due to ties, the top 10 prizes got stretched out among 18 players for this section.

Under 2200: Lorand Bela Kis won this section with 8 out of 9, getting draws with two of the 12 players that tied for 3rd place after a 3-way tie for 2nd.

Under 2400: In the under 2400 section, there was a 2-way tie for first place between Carl Brandon Boor and Miles F Ardaman each with 7.5 out of 9, followed by Alexander R Katz who took 2nd place by himself and then an 8-way tie for third which included several IM’s from the USA, India, Nigeria, and Russia and Croacia.

Open: The open section is where all the Grandmasters live!  This section consisted of 118 players including 33 GMs (I apparently miscounted when I claimed 27 last week), 2 WGMs, 20 IMs, 1 WIM, 11 FMs and a smattering of non-master players with ratings between 1828 and 2600.  The GMs faught back and forth where the top prize was split between GM Ivan Sokolov of the Netherlands and GM Alexander Shabalov from the United States.  Each had 7 out of 9 and took home close to $13,000 each!  There was then a 7-way tie for 2nd place and a 10-way tie for 3rd.

This Week: The World Open!!!

This week, in Philadelphia, PA, USA is the 40th Annual World Open.  Perhaps one of the largest chess tournaments on the planet, this week there will be THOUSANDS of chess players from all over the globe competing for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars! That’s a lot of chess sets, and some very large prizes.

I’ll be one of the chess players at the tournament hoping to win my section and take home a large bounty at the end of the long, grueling week of chess games!  I’ll be posting blogs all week long on the on-goings of the tournament, how players are doing, and hopefully getting some tips and advice from some of the greatest chess players alive today!

Here’s a rundown of the tournament:

There are 9 sections in the main event: Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1800, U1600, U1400, U1200, U900.  This is great, because it means everyone in the tournament will be paired against players around their own strength (I’ve done very poorly in the past in “open” tournaments where I was stuck constantly playing opponents with ratings that were several hundred points higher than me round after round… the fact that I’m playing people only withing 200 points or less of my own rating makes me much more confident, and means the games will be much more fierce).

There are several side events including several Blitz tournaments (games of 5 minute time control), the Senior Amateur championships (open to players with ratings under 2010 and aged at least 50 years old), The Women’s Championship (open to all female players of the world), the Under 13 championships (open to all players aged 13 yrs old or less), and the Under 13 Booster (Open to players aged 13 yrs or less and having a rating of U1000).

Between all the sections and bonus tournaments, there will be over $250,000 in prizes!  Top prize for the open section alone is $20,000!!!!!  For many of us, that’s a year’s worth of pay for winning 9 games of chess!

Time control for the open section is 40/90, SD/30 w/30sec inc. (which, you’ll discover in a future blog means 40 moves in 90 minutes, then sudden death of 30 minutes using 30 second increments). Time control for all the other sections (for the longer schedules) are 40/2, SD/1 w d/5  except for the U900 section and the Under 13 booster which is G/65 w d/5.  These time controls are based on the longest possible schedules (which in most cases is 5 days).  The time controls get shorter for players that opt for shorter schedules (either 4 days of chess or 3 days of chess).

Personally, I’m playing a full 5-day schedule so I can have as much time to analyze as possible.  With several months worth of income on the line for the top prize in my section, I can’t afford to make any mistakes by moving too fast!

There will also be trophies, which is always good to prove you won your section to your friends even after you’ve spent your winnings!

Stay tuned all this week as I bring you as up-to-date with the events of the World Open as I can.

Have a topic you’d like me to cover or a question you’d like to ask? send me an e-mail at flannelmann@yahoo.com