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Tournaments Help Center

Welcome to the Tournaments Help Center! Please read these FAQs to learn more about how Tournaments works and how you can get the most out of them.


Who is allowed to join a tournament?

Anyone can join a tournament as long as you meet the criteria for the tournament you are joining. Tournament Directors have the ability to change the criteria on a per tournament basis, but the default criteria is given below:

  • Must be a premium member OR have completed at least 5 rated games of Online Chess on Chess.com.
  • Must have at least a 10% win ratio.
  • Must have no more than a 10% timeout ratio.

How do Chess.com Online Tournaments work?

Chess.com uses the popular and easy-to-understand Round-Robin format for chess tournaments. In round-robin tournaments each player plays every other player in two games (once as white, once as black). An example of a small round-robin is shown below.

  1 2 3 4 Points Tie Break
1. Player 1 (1200) X ½  1 1  ½ 1  1 5 11.5
2. Player 2 (1200) 0  ½ X 0  1 1  ½ 3 7.5
3. Player 3 (1200) ½  0 0  1 X 0  ½ 2 6.5
4. Player 4 (1200) 0  0 ½  0 ½  1 X 2 4.5

Round-robin is very effective because each player plays every other player and then the winner is determined by the score. However, if there are a LOT of players, then round-robin tournaments can take a very long time. In that case a knock-out format can be introduced to make the tournament go faster.

How does a Round-Robin Knock-Out tournament work?

A knock-out takes place when there are too many players to play a single round Round-Robin. In a knock-out the players are put into smaller groups and then the winner(s) of that group are combined with winners of other groups to form a new group. The winner(s) of the final group are the winner(s) of the entire tournament. The number of players that advance is selected by the Tournament Director at the start of the tournament. It might be that only 1 player from each group advances, or it might be more.

Can you explain the tournament format. What does 5(2)->2+ mean?

<Player per Group>(<Concurrent Games per Opponent>)-><Players Advancing per Group>[+ = No Tie Breaks]

Example 1: 5(2)->2+ means 5 players per group, playing both games per opponent at the same time, 2 players advance from each group, and no tie breaks.

Example 2: 8(1)->1 means 8 players per group, playing one game per opponent at a time, 1 player advances from each group, and use tie breaks.

No-Vacation Tournaments

If the "No-Vacation" option is added to the tournament, all games WILL time out if you take longer than required to move. The Auto-Vacation protection for premium members will NOT activate for these games. All games MUST be played in the expected time controls - no exceptions!

When do tournament games start? What if my opponent doesn't move?

As soon as the tournament starts and the pairings are generated all players clocks start immediately. If no move is made before the time control is up then the game will be auto-resigned as a "timeout" or loss on time. This affects both players tournament and Online Chess records but does NOT affect ratings.

How is seeding and group placement determined in multi-group tournaments?

For multi-group tournaments, players are placed into groups starting with the highest rated player sequentially down to the lowest rated player. For example, in a 25-player tournament with 5 groups and 5 players in each group, the top rated player goes into Group #1, 2nd highest rated player into Group #2, 3rd highest rated player into Group #3, and so on. After all groups have one player, it starts all over again at Group #1. So, in this example Group #1 would have the following seeds: #1, #6, #11, #16, and #21. This is done to try and ensure that in the final round, the best players will be left playing for the tournament win.

How many winners are there? Why sometimes 1 winner, and why sometimes more?

In Chess.com tournaments any tournament with fewer than 8 players will only have 1 winner. Tournaments with 8 or more players will have 1st - 3rd place.

What happens when there is a tied score? And what is the Tie Break?

If 2 players in a group have the same score then both will advance. Tournament Directors can choose to use an additional tie-break method (we use the Neustadtl score) which factors in the strength of the opponents. If two players have the same score and the same Tie Break score, both will advance.

Below is an example of how the tie breaking system works:

Group #-- 1 2 3 Points Tie Break
1. Bob X 0 1 1 1 3 4.5
2. Mary 0 1 X 0 0.5 1.5 3.75
3. John 0 0 0.5 1 X 1.5 2.25

A player's tiebreak score is calculated by adding the sum of the player's points they have defeated to half the sum of the player's points they have drawn against.

Bob won one game against Mary and two games against John. So Bob gets 1x1.5 points from Mary and 2 x 1.5 points from John, which sums up to 4.5 tiebreak points.

Mary won one game against Bob and drew one game against John. So Mary gets 1x3.0 points from Bob and 0.5x1.5 points from John, which sums up to 3.75 tiebreak points.

John won one game and drew one game against Mary. So John gets 1.5x1.5 points from Mary, which sums up to 2.25 tiebreak points.

How do I create a tournament?

You must be a Premium Member and meet the following criteria:

  • Must have at least a 10% win ratio.
  • Must have no more than a 15% timeout ratio.

To create and manage your own tournament you can go to the Create Tournament page. You can then configure what kind of tournament you would like to run. There are many different options. Premium Members can run larger tournaments with more options and can run more simultaneous tournaments.

What are thematic tournaments?

Thematic tournaments require all games to start from a pre-defined starting position (such as the first 3 moves of the King's Gambit, for example). This allows players to play similar games and test each other in certain openings. Thematic tournaments are indicated with a special icon and also show the starting position of the games.

What are Tournament Points?

Tournament Points are accumulated by competing in Chess.com tournaments. There are four factors we look at that affect how many points a player gets in a tournament:

  • A multiplier based on your final place finish (P)
  • Projected number of rounds (R)
  • Maximum group size (G)
  • Average rating of all the players in the tournament (S)

The Formula: 10 * (P * (1.5R) * G * (S / 1000))

How to calculate "P"

PLACE FINISH "P" VALUE
1 .5
2 .25
3 .15
4+ .1 * ((((T / 2) - 2) - (p - 3)) / ((T / 2) - 2))
T = Total Players
p = Place Finish (p must be less than or equal to 1/2 of T to earn points)

"R" is calculated as (G/A)^X = T, solve for X.
A = number of players who advance per group

POINTS CALCULATOR
PLACE FINISH
Total Players
Group Size
Players to Advance
Average Rating
Calculated P
Calculated R
Tournament Points are accumulated by competing in Chess.com tournaments.

How do I withdraw from a tournament?

You are allowed to withdraw from a tournament at any time using the Withdraw link located on the right hand side of any tournament homepage. However, withdrawing from a tournament while you have games in progress will automatically cause you to forfeit all of the tournament games on time which will negatively affect your timeout % ratio and your rating, even if no moves have been made.

How do different membership levels (free vs. premium) affect tournaments?

Different membership levels allow members to play in and join different kinds and numbers of tournaments. See the table below to understand how the different membership levels affect tournaments.

PLAY IN TOURNAMENTS FREE GOLD PLATINUM & DIAMOND
Chess.com Tournaments unlimited unlimited unlimited
Member-created Tournaments 1 10 unlimited
Tournament Stats limited all self all everyone
 
CREATE TOURNAMENTS FREE GOLD PLATINUM & DIAMOND
Max Players 0 12 100
Multi-round no no yes
Premium Only no yes yes
Invite-Only no yes yes
Max # Tournaments Managed 0 10 unlimited

If you have any questions about Tournaments, please contact our Member Support team!