Elo System

Any sport that you play has a ranking system. The number one ranked tennis player in the world right now is Novak Djokovic, the number one ranked cricket player is Virat Kohli and in the same way the number one ranked chess player is Magnus Carlsen. Chess uses an ELO system to define each player’s strength and it applies to all chess players in the world.

The current elo system was adopted by FIDE, the world chess federation in 1970.

How to obtain an international FIDE rating

To obtain a FIDE rating, you need to play in FIDE approved tournaments and play against atleast 9 players who already have a rating. This criteria doesn’t have to be met in just one tournament. For example, you can play 4 rated players in one tournament and 6 in the second. You can play more than 9 games to meet this criteria but not less.

Once you have played 9 opponents(or more), an average of the FIDE rating of all your opponents is taken. Let’s say the rating of your first 9 opponents is in the following table:-


The average would be (1403+1221+1656+1345+1550+1489+1340+1690+1602)/9 which is equal to 1477.

Now your total number of points out of 9 games is taken. If your score is 4.5 points, then the average rating calculated above = your rating. If the score is < 4.5, few points are subtracted and if score is > 4.5, few points are added.

Now we go to the link below where you can calculate your final rating. Let’s say that you scored 3.5/9 points.

Fide Initial Rating Calculator

You will see a window like this and you can fill in the details like I have done below.

Avg. Opp. Rating – 1477, Scored Points – 3.5, Number of games – 9

When you click on the calculate initial rating button, we receive the output of 1397 as your initial rating.

For example, I personally got my rating in 2008 in two tournaments. I scored 2.5/5 in my first tournament against an average of 1949 and 1.5/5 in my second against an average of 2010. So, I had 4/10 against an average of 1979. Feeding this data into the link above, this gave me a starting rating of 1905.

The lower floor on a FIDE rating is considered to be 1000. Thus, to obtain a rating, your output after the calculation needs to be over 1000.

Ratings are published every month and your rating will be published in the next one to when you complete your 9 games.

As mentioned, to obtain a FIDE rating you need to play in FIDE approved over the board chess tournaments. These tournaments are on a pause right now due to the situation in the world. But they will begin as soon as the situation in the world becomes stable.

Range of ELO Ratings

We already know the lower limit to FIDE ratings, however their is no upper limit. Although, the highest rating ever achieved was 2882 by Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion.

Rating Change

Once you have a FIDE rating, you will be internationally ranked. Anyone in the world can see your name on the World Chess Federation website. When you play tournaments your rating will be influenced by your performance. It will go up with wins and go down with losses. Also, the stronger opponent you beat, the more your rating will increase and so on.

The link below can be used to calculate the rating change for each individual game.

Rating Change Calculator

Ratings for different formats

As we discussed in the previous article on Chess formats, rapid and blitz are also interesting versions of the game. These have a separate FIDE rating and there are separate tournaments for the same. For your first rapid/blitz tournament, your blitz/rapid rating is taken to be equal to your normal classical rating.

This was everything you need to know about achieving an international chess rating. When everything returns to normal, you can head to tournaments and get your rating quickly. Till then, work on your game and improve every day.

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