World Chess Federation Posts

Opening Ceremony for the World Chess London 2013 Candidates Tournament

The Regency Chess Company was delighted to receive an invitation to the opening ceremony for the 2013 world chess London candidates tournament. The event took place last week on Thursday March 14th. Regency Chess Company founder Julian Deverell attended as did Darren Whiteman, the freelance web designer responsible for our Industry leading website.


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:  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

Are Chess Masters Born or Made?

Chess is an interesting game because the skill level that is involved is completely measurable. In chess, a rating system is used that determines the chances that a certain player will win the game. For example, if two players have equal ratings, each player has a 50% chance of winning the game.  If one player is rated 200 ELO points above the other, he has around a 75% chance of winning the game.

When we encounter a highly rated player it’s natural to wonder how he or she became so good at chess. Two master level players can play a blitz game in a few minutes that resembles a work of art. It’s admirable to watch each of them making beautiful moves in mere seconds. To us mortals we tend to wonder to ourselves: ‘How can I do that?!’ Despite these thoughts, studies have shown that much of what makes up skill is actually a result of continuous practice. Even if someone is born with great talent they still require hours of practice and dedication. It is obvious then that great talent without work ethic is worth little.

A famous psychologist and chess master, Adriaan de Groot showed that master level players were able to recognize patterns of pieces on the chessboard much faster than non-masters. When masters were asked to memorize a pattern of pieces that resembled a real game they did considerably better than non-masters. However, when they were asked to memorize a random assortment of pieces they did no better than the amateurs. He found that masters had thousands of patterns in their head from previous experience. This subconscious database gave them a big edge over lesser skilled players. So how do you build up our chess memory? Study tactical and strategic patterns. As you study these patterns over and over, they will become part of your memory. Then during the course of one of your own games suddenly you will get an idea or inspiration. That’s your previous experience at work. As you learn more patterns, your skill level increases, and then maybe you too will play a game that’s a work of art!

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.

About the lecture/analysis (sorry it’s late)

I know I said I was going to post a blog right after the lecture by GM Sam Palatnik.  I was unable to find the time, however, to even turn my laptop on (partly because of how long some of my chess matches lasted, and partly because my laptop is an ancient piece of machinery that LITERALLY takes over 10 minutes to load and another 5 minutes to even open an internet browser.

That being said, I also didn’t bother to take notes on things from the lecture to rehash for you, dear novice chess playing reader, because it quickly became apparent that the lecture was not geared toward the beginning chess player.  This blog is!  The lecture would have been over the heads of many of my readers for the simple reason that it was mostly about various systems and how to deal with them… and since you may not know any openings yet (I know I haven’t discussed any openings yet in this blog… partly because openings are not my strong point) the lecture would not have been all that useful to you.

I also attended some of the analysis the grand master provided for player’s games.  I wanted him to analyze a game I had just lost, but there were several people ahead of me and by the time it would have been my turn, he started packing it in to go to lunch, so I never got my turn.  *sad face*

I will say that GM Sam Palatnik is a very good speaker despite his thick Ukrainian accent.  For a man his age, the great chess player was very good at being relative (and fun) to the modern (younger) chess player.  He would make amusing quips that had everyone in the room laugh out loud and was very good at demonstrating his ideas in concise and understandable ways.  It’s a shame he didn’t have the time to analyze my game (luckily a few friends of mine at the tournament went over it with me and we found the move I should have made – rather than the mistake I made that in my opinion lost the game for me).

So I apologize I didn’t get the article up when I said I would and about what I said I would, but what you CAN take from the lecture you didn’t attend is this: Buy GM Sam Palatnik’s books (they can be found on to learn about various systems of play (including the Sicilian and the Tarrasch) and chess strategies and tactics planning for the tournament player.