Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This page is being actively updated as of March, 2023.

About US Chess

What is the US Chess mission?

Empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess.

What is the US Chess vision?

Chess is recognized as an essential tool that promotes inclusiveness and benefits education, rehabilitation, recreation, and friendly competition.

What are US Chess' goals for 2023?

  • Expand the educational, social, recreational and rehabilitative applications of chess.

  • Increase the visibility of chess on mainstream communications channels.

  • Develop the depth and breadth of our partnerships.

  • Use chess to increase opportunities for under-represented segments of society.

  • Continuously improve internal operations and member services.

What are US Chess' core values?

  • Education. We promote the transformative power of chess for lifelong personal growth.
  • Customer Service. We endeavor to be responsive, adaptive and proactive in providing services to our customers.
  • Excellence. We strive to be the best we can be as an organization and in service to the game. Integrity. We honor, preserve and promote fair play.
  • Inclusion. We believe everyone has a seat at the chess table.
  • Love of the Game. We embrace chess as a historic and iconic game, and we celebrate its history, growth and evolution in our activities and services.



Guide to a Successful Chess Club

Correspondence Chess

Q: If I play US Chess Correspondence Chess will I get a correspondence chess rating?

A: Yes! As soon as you finish your first game, notify the Correspondence Chess Director (CCD) at US Chess and a provisional rating will be calculated. After you have 25 CC games rated, your rating is recognized as established. After each game, your result information will be posted in an online searchable database for CC players at

Q: I am unrated, how do I determine what Class to start in?

Class A: Very strong (1800 and above) Class B: Strong (1600-1799) Class C: Intermediate (1400-1599) Class D: Novice/beginner to chess (1399 and below) (Note: If you have a US Chess over-the-board rating, use this as a guide.)


Q: Can I achieve a title?

A: US Chess awards the following Correspondence Chess titles to players with established ratings (at least 26 games) if your rating is: 2000-2199 the title is Candidate Master, 2200-2399 is Master and 2400+ is Senior Master.

Q: Where can I find the Official US Chess Correspondence Chess Rules?


Q: Can I use my chess computer?

A: No! Using the chess playing algorithms of a software program, except when such computers/programs are expressly permitted by special rules, is prohibited. However, you may use a computer program to help you keep track of your games, and you may use any published opening database or endgame tablebase in your games, even if those are attained via a computer program or online.

Q: Can I refer to chess books?

A: Yes. Players are free to consult chess publications or literature but are not permitted to consult with other players.

Q: What equipment do I need?

A: For email games you need access to a reliable email account and for correspondence chess server games you need access to the internet. For games played by postal mail, we highly recommend move-mailing postcard such as those sold by US Chess at

Q: How do I contact my opponent?

A: You will receive a pairing sheet w/playing instructions from the Correspondence Chess Director (CCD). If you are playing in a postal mail event, it will be sent through email for players that have an email account on file with US Chess and by postal mail for all others. If you are playing in an email or correspondence chess server event, the pairings will be sent to you at your email address. You will exchange moves with your opponent via the format of the event you are participating in. If you are playing in a postal mail event but you and your opponent want to exchange moves using email, it will be allowed.



Updated 03.24.2023

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions regarding our US Chess/FIDE rated tournaments. If you have further questions, please email Brian Yang at Click here to show email address.



All FIDE rated tournaments must use FIDE rules.


The FIDE rules and regulations can be found online in the FIDE Handbook.


The PDF of the Arbiters’ Manual can be found online at the FIDE Arbiters’ Commission website.




Only FIDE licensed arbiters who are US Chess certified at the Senior TD level or higher are permitted to work as arbiters in our US Chess/FIDE rated tournaments. Unlicensed arbiters are not to be listed as tournament directors in any FIDE section of our US Chess rating reports.


Please refer to the list of USA licensed arbiters at the link below:


If you are a US Chess tournament director certified at the Senior TD level or higher and would like to become a licensed National Arbiter (NA), please email Click here to show email address for the NA exam. Upon passing the exam, you will be added to our list of licensed arbiters after paying the license fee of 20 Euros.

*Please note: Only licensed arbiters at the Senior TD level or higher are permitted to earn FIDE Arbiter norms.




Secure Your Arbiter - The first thing you must do is secure a licensed arbiter for your tournament. The arbiter you choose must be a US Chess tournament director certified at the Senior TD level or higher AND must be on the list of licensed arbiters at the link above. Some arbiters with the FA or IA title may not be licensed. They must be. Any tournament offering player norms must have an arbiter who is a US Chess tournament director certified at the Senior TD level or higher, who has the FA or IA Title, and who is also on the list of licensed arbiters.


Register Your Tournament - ALL FIDE rated tournaments must be registered in advance on the FIDE Ratings Server. Tournaments not registered by the deadline to register will not be FIDE rated.

FIDE regulations require advance notice of 7 days to register all non-norm events and 30 days to register all norm events. In order to make sure there is adequate time to register your event, US Chess requires 6 days advance notice for all non-norm events and 33 days advance notice for all norm events.


Please refer to the FIDE Handbook under FIDE Rating Regulations – Rate of Play.

Any increment or time delay must be included when calculating total time. This calculation is based on games that last 60 moves. See examples below:


G/90 + 30 second increment = 120 minutes for game (60 moves X 30 seconds = 30 minutes) G/115 d/5 = 120 minutes for game (60 moves X 5 seconds = 5 minutes)




This document was created to provide general information about our US Chess/FIDE rated tournaments and as a resource for understanding basic procedures necessary to efficiently submit reports to US Chess for FIDE rating. There are many topics not covered in this document and players, arbiters, and organizers are encouraged to send an email if they need further information.


Brian Yang

US Chess FIDE Events Manager

Click here to show email address | 314-661-9500 x 147




(Revised FIDE Events Manager 2023)


The 60 Euro license fee must also be paid by any FIDE flag player who has registered for a FIDE ID through FIDE Online Arena (FOA). If any FIDE flag player has registered through FOA and is eligible for the USA FIDE ID, please contact Brian Yang at Click here to show email addressright away to have the player’s federation changed to USA. This can be done immediately and avoids having to collect the license fee for the FIDE flag player.




The FIDE Title Regulations can be found in the FIDE Handbook, section B.01:


Players who earn IM, WIM, GM, or WGM norms should be issued the signed IT1 (Certificate of Title Result) as soon as possible after the tournament. Please check carefully to make sure all fields are correctly filled out and that the norm certificate is legible. The link to the IT1 is found below:





Players who have achieved the required norms for the IM, WIM, GM, WGM or arbiter titles should email Brian Yang at Click here to show email addressfor instructions.




Foreign players not under category above – Have the player contact his federation’s rating officer to get a FIDE ID. It is possible to get a FIDE ID for the player if the organizer wishes to collect the 60 Euro license fee, (payable to the US Chess office with the regular rating fees) and the player will be assigned an ID under the FIDE flag with a request to be accepted into the player’s own federation. In that case, collect name, address, email address, birthday, photocopy of passport, and confirm that the player wishes to be assigned a FIDE ID under his federation. The license is good through June 30 of the following year and must be renewed before July 1 for the FIDE Flag Player to continue to be licensed. All players are encouraged to join their federation.

Please send the final round tournament file, containing all player information, pairings and results for each round. If your tournament has multiple schedules with games having time controls that are not FIDE ratable, please send the pre-merge file(s) too.

Example Using SwissSys for a FIDE Open, 5 round tournament that had a 3-day schedule with round 1 on Friday, rounds 2 and 3 on Saturday and rounds 4 and 5 on Sunday at a time control of G/90; +30, and a 2-day schedule with rounds 1 and 2 on Saturday having a time control of G/60; d/5, which then merges with the 3-day schedule in round 3:

Send both the “FIDE Open.S5C” file plus the “FIDE Open 2-day.S2C” file so that the 2-day games can be removed from the FIDE rating report before submission to FIDE.

Per FIDE Title Regulations 1.91: Tournament reports must include a PGN file of at least those games played by players who achieved title results for Swiss and team tournaments, and all games played for other tournaments. A failure to provide all the games required in a PGN file will mean that the norm will not be approved.


Players needing FIDE IDs - All players who participate in a FIDE tournament must have a FIDE ID. The US Chess FIDE Events Manager may ONLY assign USA FIDE IDs. To receive a USA FIDE ID, the player must have U.S. citizenship, naturalization, or residency in the USA. Please refer to the FIDE Handbook, Section B.04 for regulations on registering and licensing of players.


Arbiters are encouraged to request FIDE IDs for players either before or during the tournament by emailing the information to Brian Yang at Click here to show email address


The chief arbiter is responsible for making sure that all players needing FIDE IDs can successfully be assigned one so that the tournament may be rated in a timely manner. The chief arbiter or organizer MUST collect the necessary information so that the US Chess Rating Officer is able to assign the FIDE ID. Failure to collect necessary information may result in the tournament not being FIDE rated. Arbiters may use the form available on the US Chess Website to collect information necessary to assign the FIDE ID, or the arbiter may collect the information some other way, such as entering the information into the SwissSys file. The link to the form can be found at


Players with U.S. citizenship, naturalization, or U.S. residency without FIDE ID – Collect name, US Chess ID#, city of residence, email address, birthday, and confirm that the player agrees to be assigned the USA FIDE ID.

After submitting your tournament to US Chess for rating, the tournament files must be submitted to the US Chess FIDE Events Manager at Click here to show email address who will create the report and submit it to FIDE.

All players must have the following information included for them within the pairing program files:

Name US Chess ID FIDE ID Federation Gender (M/F) Birthyear


Norm Events - Please see the international Title Regulations of FIDE for additional time control regulations for FIDE rated norm events. Please see 1.1.3.b Title Regulations




To register a tournament, please send all of the following required information to Click here to show email address:


Full name of the tournament (must be unique so include date or section information)

City and state

Start date

End date

Format (Swiss, round robin, double round robin, team, etc.)

Norm tournament? (Will the award of player norms be available)

Number of rounds

Full playing schedule

All time controls (if different for various schedules)

Expected number of players

Chief Arbiter name and FIDE ID (must be licensed with FIDE)

Chief Organizer name and FIDE ID

TLA/website link (URL of the tournament website or TLA information)


If all of the above information is included in the TLA/website link, you may provide just the link along with the Chief Arbiter and Chief Organizer information.


Note that a tournament cannot be registered with FIDE until all the required information above is provided and e-mailed to Brian Yang at Click here to show email address. This includes the name and FIDE ID of the licensed FIDE arbiter who will be the Chief Arbiter of the tournament.



All USA tournaments to be FIDE rated can be found at the link below.


If you have a TLA, every section, (including blitz and side events) to be FIDE rated must be listed as such in the TLA. FIDE rates each section of your tournament as a separate tournament. Sections cannot be combined for a FIDE rating report. For example, FIDE Tournament Championship and FIDE Tournament

–U2200 will be registered on the FIDE Ratings Server as two separate events.




US Chess requires that all FIDE rated tournaments be submitted to US Chess for processing using a FIDE Endorsed Pairing Program. The current list of endorsed programs can be found in Annex 3 at

The first step is to submit your tournament to US Chess for rating. Care must be taken during this step to ensure you check the "FIDE Rated" box for each section (FIDE tournament) that is going to be FIDE rated. You must also ensure that only licensed FIDE arbiters are listed in the overall tournament TD area and within the FIDE rated sections during submission of the US Chess rating report. The US Chess rating report must match the FIDE rating report in terms of arbiters that oversaw each tournament.

When listing arbiters in the US Chess rating report, this information will correspond to the following positions on the FIDE rating report:

Chief TD (Overall) - Chief Arbiter Chief Asst. TD (Overall) - Deputy Arbiter Chief TD (Section) - Deputy Arbiter All other TD positions – Arbiter


There can be no more than 12 hours playing time in one day.


Where a certain number of moves is specified in the first time-control, it must be at least 30 moves.


Minimum time to complete all moves based on rating of player (calculated based on 60 moves)

If there is at least one player in your FIDE rated tournament that has a FIDE rating of 2400 or higher, the minimum time is 120 minutes for game. If there is at least one player in your FIDE rated tournament that has a FIDE rating of 1800 or higher, the minimum time is 90 minutes for game. If all players in the tournament are rated below 1800, the minimum time is 60 minutes for game.

Q. What is the main page for Governance information?

A: Please visit our Governance Hub here



Membership Services Area (MSA)
Frequently Asked Questions regarding the US Chess Member Services Area
Last Modified: August 20, 2023





Why doesn't the number after the '/' match with the number of games I've played?

For US Chess players who have a provisional rating (normally those who have completed 25 or fewer games), the “based-on” value connected to their rating is not always the number of games they have played; it is the “adjusted” number of games which is usually larger than the actual number of games.

The only situation in which the adjusted number of games is the same as the actual number of games played is when the player’s initial rating was determined solely based on their age. In every other situation, i.e., when players’ initial ratings are derived from ratings converted from other systems (including other US Chess systems), the adjusted number of games is the sum of the actual number of games played and a value that reflects the information used to initialize a player’s rating. That value, which can never be larger than 10, depends upon the possibly multiple sources of converted ratings (the other US Chess online or over-the-board systems, FIDE, or CFC) to obtain an initialized rating, and the staleness of the converted rating.

However, after a first tournament, the adjusted number of games increases only by the actual number of games completed in subsequent events. The details of the calculation for the adjusted number of games can be found in section 2 of the US Chess rating system specifications:

For more information on mathematics behind the US Chess Ratings Systems, see US Chess Ratings Systems.

Also, see this thread on the US Chess forums: Clarification on Game Counts for Provisional Ratings.


The crosstable for one of my events says that I finished in 3rd place, but I took 2nd place. Why doesn't the crosstable show that?

Crosstables are NOT SHOWN in tiebreak order. That's because we do not know what tiebreak methods were used! Even if we did know what tiebreaks were used, some of the tiebreak methods cannot be regenerated from the crosstable of an event. (For example, 'performance rating' will use whatever ratings the TD had for players at the start of that event, which are probably not the same pre-event ratings that show on the crosstable.) Although it is not common, there are occasions in which the crosstable has to be adjusted to have the proper information needed for ratings purposes but it may not reflect the standings and tiebreaks that were used to distribute prizes.

We do sort the crosstables into point group order. Within a point group, players are in order by their post-event rating.


How long does it take to rate an event?

First we have to receive the rating report from the Tournament Director.

You can check the Tournaments Received search page or the Events Rated page to see if the rating report has been received by the US Chess office.

Depending on when and how the TD submits the rating report, it can take as little as an hour to rate an event or several weeks. As of September 2012, about 95% of the events we rate are now being submitted online, most of those are being submitted within 2 days of when the event ends and are rated within a few hours of when they are submitted online.

Events sent to the US Chess office by mail take longer, in part because of the time it takes for the event to get to the office. The typical event received in the mail is rated about 10-14 days after it ended. However, not all TDs get their events submitted promptly, sometimes we don't receive an event until several months after it ends.

Once an event is submitted by the TD (or entered by the ratings department, for events sent by mail), it needs to be processed by the ratings system software. Most days we process ratings once an hour from 10AM to 11PM, with additional runs at 11:45 PM and 6AM. We post updated ratings to the website once an hour. Those generally get posted at about 45 minutes after the hour from 9:45 AM to 12:45 AM.

To receive an email when an event you played in is rated, update your email preferences in your member dashboard after logging in at


Why isn't my rating (or my current rating) in the latest ratings list?

US Chess issues rating lists 12 times a year. Each list contains events rated since the most recent list.

In December we also issue the annual rating list, it contains everyone who played in an event that was rated in the last year.

As of September 1, 2013, the cutoff for a monthly ratings list is 11:45 PM Central Time on the 3rd Wednesday of the month before that list becomes official. For example, the October 2013 list will be created on Wednesday, September 18th. Events that have been received and rated by the cutoff are included in that ratings list.

However, even if someone isn't in the most recently published ratings list, his or her last published rating is still current, even if it was published years ago. "Once Rated, Always Rated."


An event of mine shows up twice, one in the regular column and once in the quick column. How do I correct this?

Before the development of the current programming, US Chess events that were dual-rated (ie as both regular and quick rated events) had to be entered into the US Chess crosstable records twice. As a result these events will show up with two different 12 digit Event IDs.

Also, because of how the old programming worked, if the regular-rated event had the lower Event ID (which was usually the case), and if this was your first US Chess rated event, your quick game count is likely to be twice that of your regular game count, because under the procedures for rating games your regular rating would have been used to start you quick rating. This is no longer necessary under current programming, but we do not have the ability to correct several years worth of events from the past, mostly from 2001 through 2004.

If there is an actual duplication of an event, please report it to the US Chess ratings department,


I've never played quick chess, why do I have a quick rating?

Under US Chess policy, events that are played at a total time control of Game/30 through Game/65 (ie, each player has a total of 30-65 minutes, including the increment or delay setting) must be rated as both regular and quick chess events. This is not an option, all events that are played at those time controls will be dual-rated. US Chess's time control rules have changed several times in recent years, players and TDs are advised to consult the current US Chess rulebook, including the Update to the US Chess Rulebook for the complete current time control rules.


I just played in my first chess event in a ratings system?
Why doesn't my tournament record indicate I was previously Unrated?

Since 2020 we intialize ratings from other ratings information, including other US Chess ratings systems, FIDE ratings and CFC (Canadian) ratings, using a blending formula.

For more information on mathematics behind the US Chess Ratings Systems, see US Chess Ratings Systems.

I've only played in a few events, and they were all dual-rated events. Why does it look like I have more quick-rated games than regular-rated games?

This was something that occured under our old ratings programming. Events submitted and rated after February of 2005 should not have this problem.


I just played in my first rated event, am I rated now?
If not, how soon will I have a published rating?

In order for you to have a published rating, you must have played at least 4 rated games in that ratings system. Also, some over-the-board time controls are both Regular and Quick rated, these are called dual-rated time controls.

You are still considered 'Unrated' until your rating has been published in a monthly ratings list. We issue ratings lists every month. At this time, the next month's rating list is generated on the third Wednesday of the month before it becomes official.

To give you some idea of the time lags involved, the December 2013 annual list, which is the list TD's are generally required to use for events held in December, will be created in mid-November and will include events received and processed through mid-November.

So, if your first event is in late November of 2013, you would still be unrated until the January 2014 Rating Supplement comes out. That means that you would still be considered unrated for events held prior to January 1st.

For your first 25 games, your rating is provisional. A provisional rating is indicated by a slash and the number of games upon which it is based. For example, a rating of 1213/16 is based on 16 games. (However, read the earlier answer on how Quick or Blitz ratings are started.)


Why doesn't my tournament record include an event I played in?

Here are four possibilities:

1. A rating report for the event was not sent in by the Tournament Director. If it is not listed on the Tournaments Received search page or the Events Rated page, contact the TD or the sponsoring Affiliate or club to see if the event was submitted for rating.

2. The rating report has been received but has not yet been rated, usually because there were problems with the details, such as missing or invalid membership ID's.

3. The rating report was received and rated but there was an incorrect ID. Try searching for the event by tournament name or sponsoring Affiliate using the tournament feature of MSA or try the Events Received page or the Events Rated page. If you can find the event but it does not show that you played in the event, see the question 'How do I report an error in a crosstable?'

4. The event you played in was not a US Chess rated event. (Some events have both rated and non-rated sections.) Check with the organizer for the event.


Why isn't my current published rating the same as any of my post-event ratings?

An official rating list is a snapshot of the ratings information we have on players as of a particular point in time, currently around 11:45 PM on the third Wednesday of the month before a new ratings list becomes official.

However, the post-event rating from your most recent event at that time can change later on, due to rerates.

For example, suppose you played on a tournament on the 10th of the month and that was your most recent event in our records as of the time the new rating list was created. Your post-event rating from that event would become your new published rating.

However, suppose you also played in a tournament a few days earlier but it had not yet been received and rated by US Chess by the time we generated the next official ratings list. Once that event is received and rated, it needs to be sorted into the proper chronological order, which happens during the next rerate. When that occurs, both your pre-event rating and post-event for the event on the 10th may change.

Similarly, suppose there is a correction made to the event on the 10th after the new ratings list is prepared, such as an incorrectly reported result for one of your games. When that correction is made, your post-event rating from that event is likely to change when that event is re-rated.

In either case, we do not go back and revise the published ratings list.


What is rerating?

Events are not always received in the order in which they completed and are rated, some TDs get their events to us faster than others (Most, but not all, events are submitted online, and most TDs have their events to us within 2-3 days of when it ends.) In addition, events sometimes need to be corrected, for example if a result was mis-recorded.

Both of these can cause changes in the post-event ratings for an event (and the pre-event ratings for subsequent events.) Rerating is designed to address both issues. Rerating recomputes the ratings from events after reordering them and taking into account any corrections, in other words, what they should have been if every event had been received in the order in which it is rated and if every event was received error-free.

We currently re-rate events on Tuesdays, though it can take up to 2 days for rerated events to be posted on MSA. We also do a full rerate (back to 2004) before the creation of a new monthly rating list.


How do I renew my membership online?

Please visit the US Chess Webstore.


How do I report an error in a crosstable?

Corrections to rated events must come from the Tournament Director or the sponsoring US Chess Affiliate . If you believe there is an error in an event you played in, please contact the TD or Affiliate to have them submit a correction.

Events that were initially rated after January 1, 2004, can be corrected and rerated, those from earlier events can be corrected but generally that correction will not affect your current rating.

TDs need to send corrections to

In order to enter those changes quickly (or if sending corrections to the US Chess office), here's a checklist of the information that will be needed:

  • The 12 digit Event ID and event name.
  • The section number and name.
  • The players' pairing numbers. (Keep in mind that the pairing numbers as shown on MSA may not match those in the original rating report. We need the original pairing numbers.)
  • The players' Member IDs and names. (Please note: The pairing numbers in our internal records may not match the ones shown on MSA, because the MSA results are in final standings order. If an ID appears more than once in the crosstable, correctly or because of an ID error, you will need to provide enounformation, such as the final score or round-by-round results, to uniquely identify the pairing # that needs to be changed.)
  • If player IDs need to be changed, list the correct IDs and player names.
  • If game results need to be changed, list the results as originally reported and the corrections needed.
  • If the event was rated under the wrong rating system (eg, dual rated when it should be quick-rated only), we need the correct time control for the section.


I reported a correction, when will my rating be changed?

Here's what happens when a correction is reported by a player:

  • The TD has to be contacted to confirm the accuracy of that report. US Chess cannot accept correction reports from players, as TDs are responsible for the accuracy of their rating reports. It usually speeds things up if the player contacts the TD directly.
  • The TD has to report (or confirm) the correction to the US Chess ratings staff.
  • The ratings staff has to review the correction to make sure they have all the information needed to make the correction properly. This may require contacting the TD for clarification.
  • The records for the event have to be corrected.
  • The correction should be noted on MSA within a day, but any ratings impact will not occur until after the event has been rerated.

We currently run rerates once a week, on Tuesdays, but a rerate can take up to two days to complete and get posted to MSA, as once an event has been rerated all subsequent events for everyone who played in that event have to be rerated too.

This means it can take a week or longer for a correction to be reported, made and rerated.

US Chess runs a full rerate before generating a new rating list, so the current list should reflect the most current and accurate information we have at that time, though a correction to an event from several years ago could take 6 weeks or longer to affect someone's rating.


How do the rankings work?

The rankings currently use the same selection criteria that the Top 100 lists use, with one exception. A player must have a published and established US Chess rating to be included in the Top 100 lists, but players who have enough games for a published US Chess regular rating (eg, 4) are included in the rankings.

These are national rankings, not international ones, though all US Chess members are included in the rankings, even those who live outside of the USA or who are registered with FIDE under another nation.

As an example of how the selection criteria work, here's the criteria that were used for both the April 2014 Top 100 lists and the April 2014 rankings:

  • US Chess membership that expires on or after January 1, 2014.
  • Most recently rated event rated on or after March 1, 2013.
  • For the age based lists, age as of April 1, 2014. The junior list is for players who are under age 21, the senior list is for players who are age 65 or older.

Age, sex and state information are drawn from US Chess records, please send corrections to

Percentile rankings are also shown, eg, the top 5% are in the 95th percentile and the 0.1% are in the 100th percentile.

The rating used for rankings are official ratings, which are issued once a month, and will be updated when a new official ratings list is generated, but rankings can change during the month if other information (eg, membership status, birthdate, address) change.

When a ranking is follwed by '(T)', it means there is a tie for that position.

Why are there both floating point and integer ratings?

US Chess has historically used integer ratings. However, we do all internal ratings computations in floating point.

This means that someone who had a slightly positive result would gain at least a full point and someone who had a slightly negative result would lose at least a full point.

The Ratings Committee and Executive Board decided that we should save those floating point ratings in between events, so this change was made effective with events that ended on September 18, 2014.

However, official published ratings are still kept as rounded integers. This means that someone whose rating in floating point is 1999.50 or greater will be rounded up to 2000 for official ratings purposes, including peak rating based floors.

What does the letter/number after N: mean on a crosstable?

This is part of the Norms Based Title system.

The letter/number following ‘N:’ on a crosstable shows what norm performance level was achieved at that event. In essence, norms are achieved when a player scores more than one point above what a player at that norm level would have been expected to score. (This means, incidentally, that it is mathematically impossible to earn a norm in an event unless you score at least 1.5.)

N:S means senior master performance level (2400)
N:M means master performance level (2200)
N:C means candidate master performance level (2000)
N:1 through N:4 means level 1 through 4 performance level, respectively (1800, 1600, 1400 and 1200)

Norms performance levels are computed independently of the awarding of titles, so someone who has, for example, the Candidate Master title (C) could still be listed at having performed at a Level 1 or lower level in subsequent events as well as at a level higher than the highest norms-based title he or she has earned to date.


Performance levels and titles are only computed after an event has been rerated at least once, so they may take a week or so to show up for an event. Titles at the Candidate Master Level or higher have ratings requirements in addition to the requirement to earn five norms, so those titles may not be earned and awarded until after the ratings requirement has been met.


Who are the most active US Chess players?

You can see who's playing in the most US Chess rated events on our Leader Boards. Are you listed?


What do all the result codes in a crosstable mean?

Here's a list of the result codes currently in use:


W   A win for this player
L A loss for this player
D A draw for this player
U This player was not paired in this round
B A full point bye
H A half-point bye
F A forfeit loss
X A forfeit win
Z A forfeit draw
  Special Use Codes
N A win for this player (but not a loss for the other player)
S A loss for this player (but not a win for the other player)
R A draw for this player (but not a draw for the other player)
I Game In Progess (will be used for correspondence events only)

Note: The N, S and R codes are used by TDs for unusual circumstances, resulting in the players being assigned results for ratings purposes that are not consistent with each other, such as a win for one player and a draw for the other player.

Please report corrections to this document to Click here to show email address  Thank you!

Print Magazines


Updated March 2023

Q: Can You tell me about Chess Life (CL) magazine?

A: Chess Life is the magazine of record for the US Chess Federation (US Chess). We focus on American chess players and tournaments. A combination of tournament reports, instruction, human interest, and US Chess governance matters are published.


Q: How often is the Chess Life magazine published?

A: Chess Life is a monthly magazine.


Q: How often is Chess Life Kids (CLK) published?

A: Chess Life Kids is a bi-monthly publication for ages 12 and under.


Q: Can I get a free sample copy of Chess Life magazine?

A: Call our 1-800-903-8723 number or email your request to or write to US Chess, P.O. Box 775308, St. Louis, MO 63177. After you join US Chess you can expect to receive your first issue of Chess Life issue in 6-8 weeks. You should receive subsequent issues monthly.


Q: Where can I buy copies of the magazine?

A: Although you can sometimes find Chess Life on newsstands at major bookstores, the most reliable method for receiving the magazine is to purchase a US Chess membership and have Chess Life mailed to you monthly.


Q: How do I subscribe to the magazine?

A: We offer a link on our homepage for "Join/Renew" which connects you to our Online Membership area to join US Chess, renew your membership and/or enter some of our national & correspondence chess events. All members have digital access to both Chess Life and Chess Life Kids. Print copies are available for a small opt-in fee.


Q: I sent in my membership payment some time back but haven't received a magazine yet. When can I expect my first issue?

A: In 6-8 weeks you will receive the most current issue of Chess Life.


Q. How do I get information about Chess Life advertising?

A.  Tournament Life Announcements (TLAs) are uploaded from your Affiliate page. You can find instructions on how to upload at  If you want information about placing a TLA display ad, a “non-tournament” ad, or a classified ad in CL or CLK, email managing editor Melinda Matthews at You can find the advertising rates in our “Advertising” category located at

Q: I have an article or photograph that I would like to see published in Chess Life. Who do I contact?

A: Please email CL/CLK Editor John Hartmann for information at: Click here to show email address. You can also find general information about submissions at our “For Contributors” page, located at

Scholastic Chess

Guide to Scholastic Chess

Tournament Play: Getting Started

Q:How do I play in a chess tournament?

A:Check out our Clubs & Tournaments area to find a tournament in your area. If you're not comfortable playing right away, you are free to observe any event. Most tournaments have skittles rooms, where players compete casually, often in blitz games and tournament participants analyze their games. You also might want to investigate a club in your area. Search our Club directory.


Q:What's a chess tournament like? How is it different from playing a friendly game?
A:Rating points and prizes are usually at stake in chess tournaments, so the atmosphere is much more competitive and quiet than in a casual club or cafe game. There are special tournament rules like "touch move." Check out the tournament play section of Rules of Chess for more details.


Q:If I play in a tournament, who will I play against?
In the large majority of chess tournaments, computers determine pairings. In the first round, players are ranked by their ratings (Unrated players are ranked at the bottom, alphabetically.) The Swiss system of pairing is then used. Swiss pairings split the field into two halves and pair the top of the first half with the top of the second half. If there are 50 players in a tournament, #1 will play #26, #2 will play #27, etc.


Q:What's a chess rating and how do I get one?
A chess rating is an estimate of your playing strength based on prior results. Before completing 26 games, your rating is provisional and can change drastically after winning or losing. Later, ratings change incrementally based on your result and the ratings of your opponents. When you win, your rating should go up, when you lose, your rating should go down, and when you draw, whether your rating goes up or down depends on whether you were lower rated than your opponent (up) or higher rated (down). US Chess assigns ratings to members who play in official tournaments. Ratings range from 100 to nearly 3000. You can lose rating points as well as gaining them (unlike in bridge) but you cannot lose your US Chess rating. Once rated, always rated.


There are also separate ratings for various chess organizations from the international chess body, FIDE to Internet chess clubs.


Chessplayers often worry or obsess over their rating, because it determines pairings, which tournaments they can play in and reflects their current playing strength, so much that one professional player compared losing 10 rating points to losing 10 liters of blood! (This is actually MORE blood than the average human body contains.)
In many tournaments you can only play if you are over or under a certain rating. For instance, there are Under 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000 and 2200 sections in the some of the larger tournaments in America. The prizes are as high as $10,000 for the winner of each section. This leads to occasional "sand-bagging," losing points on purpose to lower your rating artificially in order to play in a weaker level tournament. This is an offense that could get you kicked out of US Chess for life. On the other hand, telling strangers at tournaments that your rating is 2600 is a good way to earn their total respect for the entirety of the elevator ride- until your 12-year-old daughter shows up and says "Daddy, how could you miss Ne5?!!" For an extensive listing of US Chess Rated Tournaments please check "Clubs & Tournaments" category located on our homepage then click on "Upcoming Tournaments". We offer listings by state as well as "National Events", "Grand Prix Events" and "Foreign Events". 


Q:My friend is too weak for me. I beat him every game. How do I find an opponent of my level?
A:Internet gaming rooms are great ways to meet up with players of all levels. ICC, short for Internet Chess Club, and Playchess are two popular servers. These both charge a fee for membership, but in return you get grandmaster analysis of top games around the world. A popular free chessplayer server is On all these servers, you earn ratings, ranging from about 500 to 3000. Ideally, you want to find an opponent with a similar or slightly higher rating than your own.
If you're yearning for some real-life chess action, check out if there is a club in your area through the US Chess chess club directory. Or, send out an email blast to your friends or post an ad on craigslist or myspace (be sure to meet in a public place). You'd be surprised how many potential chess partners there are in your circle. A lot of people love and learn the game early, but give it up since it's tough to find an appropriate opponent. In this way, chess is a lot like tennis.


Q:What's a Grandmaster (International Master, Master)?
A:The United States Chess Federation (US Chess) awards the national master title to any player who reaches a rating of 2200. Less than one percent of rated players hold the title. An Original Life Master is a National Master who has played 300 games with a rating over 2200. Grandmaster (abbreviated often to GM) is the highest title you can achieve in chess. Like International Master (abbreviated to IM), it's an international title, and is awarded by FIDE, the International Federation of Echecs.


Q:How do I get better?
A:If poker takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master, chess takes a weekend to learn and several lifetimes to master! But you can have fun, challenge yourself and improve at any level, and that's one of the greatest things about chess. Becoming a good player requires a firm grasp of tactics (short-term operations to win material or deliver checkmate) so you should check out our puzzle galleries or go to the US Chess Federation's online chess shop for tactics books for your level. If you're looking to improve your strategical skills, there are a number of good books available on strategy, such as the classic My System or the more modern, Reassess Your Chess. To get a feel for how strong players approach different positions, I recommend looking over annotated games from the Chess Life archives. Also, play, play, and play. If you combine concentrated play with study, you will improve!


Q:I'm a single guy in college, and I heard chess is nerdy. Why should I play?
A:Chess is a great game that can lull its devotees to trance like states of concentration. Finding a wonderful and surprising move can fill you up with aesthetic joy and the pride of discovery. A game of chess or a tournament can test your will power, discipline and sportsmanship, resulting in intense situations that draw many to the game. In the chess world, race, gender and class are invisible. It's inspiring to see eight-year-olds competing with senior citizens, and Gucci-clad investment bankers fighting it out with high-school janitors.

Chess is not nerdy at all. We've come a long way since the days of cheap "chess is nerdy" jokes in Saved by the Bell! Celebrities who are crazy about chess include supermodel Carmen Kass, pop star Madonna, actor Will Smith, magician David Blaine and boxer Lennox Lewis. International chess superstar Garry Kasparov has been interviewed in every place from Charlie Rose to Playboy, and starred in a Pepsi commercial. Alexandra Kosteniuk, a Grandmaster from Russia has done modeling shoots for VogueElle and Mademoiselle. If you still think chess is nerdy, browse through our U.S. player galleries for more evidence to the contrary.


Our female participation in chess tournaments has greatly increased over the years. Women of all ages are enjoying the competitive scene! 



Q:What do I have to bring with me to play in a tournament?
A:Most tournaments expect the player to bring a chess set and a clock. The US Chess Federation Sales store sells sets and clocks for newcomers to the game. Some tournaments provide score sheets on which you can record the moves of your games. You might want to purchase a booklet of score sheets so that you don't lose them.


Q:What's a chess clock and how do they work?
A chess clock is actually two clocks! When you're thinking, your clock ticks down. After making a move, you hit a button at the top of the clock and your opponent's clock starts ticking. If you run out of time, you lose the game, unless there is checkmate on the board or your opponent has insufficient mating material. There are two main types, the digital and analog clock.


Q:What time do I set my chess clock for?
A:It depends on the event. Different limits are referred to as time controls. There are blitz tournaments in which each side only gets 5 minutes a piece. Blitz time controls are very popular in casual park or cafe games. Even shorter games, bullet set limits as low as one minute per player. Think it would be hard to play a decent game in one minute? You should watch GM Hikaru Nakamura or GM Larry Christiansen playing chess on the Internet. For the inexperienced, bullet chess will mean flying pieces and broken clocks, so start slow!


Q:What's the difference between a digital and analog clock and which should I use? 

A:Many players prefer digital because they know exactly how much time they and their opponents have. With an analog clock, it can be unclear whether you have one minute or three. Tournament directors prefer digital as well, because it allows them to set the clock for increment or time delay if there is an argument over whether one player is trying to run the other out on time, but is making no progress or has insufficient winning chances. Some still think analog clocks are more beautiful. Digital clocks also malfunction occasionally, resulting in bigger disasters than an analog malfunction would. In general though, Digital clocks that support increment and delay settings are preferred equipment and if both are available the digital clock will be used instead of an analog clock, especially in events that use an increment or delay setting, which most do these days.