Chess For All Tournaments


I'm a novice player.  I wanted to play USCF online rated games and I discovered that Chess for All provided some.  I've now played two G15/5 rapid online tournaments sponsored by Chess For All and hosted on lichess.  I'll only address the latest tournament.

I entered the U1000 section.  Every player had a provisional rapid rating (probably using some sort of lichess rating system).  There were 155 players.

I was the only player entered with a rating under 1000.  So, in an U1000 tournament, 154 of 155 players were rated over 1000.  Three were rated over 2000.  A hundred or more were rated over 1500.  My first opponent was rated over 1500, the next over 1300, and the next over 1200 -- roughly three, two, and one standard deviations above my rating.

I am perplexed.  How can players with ratings over 1500, even provisional, never mind 2000, enter an U1000 tournament?  Especially dumbfounding was that there was an U1600 section; it seems that players with provisional ratings between 1000 and 1600 would be required to enter the U1600 section.

My earlier tournament had the same characteristic -- in the U1100 section, the winner was playing over 2300.

You might guess that I don't plan to enter another Chess for All tournament.  I won't die if I lose, but I am not eager to play against a player who is rated 700 points above me.

Is there any explanation for this?  Does Chess For All accept any entry in any section that will pay to play?


P.S.  The U1000 results were posted.  The average player rating was 1487.  In an U1000 section?  The top three "performed" at 2145, 2020, and 1943.

 P.S.S.  The U1600 results were also posted.  The average player rating was 1798.  Really?   The top three performed at 2473, 2460, and 2421. Their lichess ratings are 2275, 2421, and 2178 .... respectively.  In an U1600 tournament?  Why bother?


Be careful not to compare rating systems. USCF otb vs USCF online vs chess com vs lichess vs fide are all separate systems. Likely the sections were determined by USCF online ratings, but because it was played on a chess site you saw the site's chess ratings, not the ratings actually used to create the sections. 


I appreciate the answer.  But I cannot believe, whatever the rating system, that a player who played at a 2145 level should be in a section, unless it was a open, with a player at 879.  Or that a player who played at 2145 was rated U1000 on USCF.


I would technically qualify for a U1400 USCF quick online section, even though my USCF otb rating is over 2000, also performance ratings are not typically accurate in events with less than 7 rounds, focusing on the numbers with all these different systems will drive anyone crazy



I honestly feel the ratings are broken for now.  I fluctuate 1000-1200 have  1500 rating on another site,  1100 OTB and last played like 10 years ago.  I've lost to 800 players here and beat 1800 players here in the last month.  There is just too much of an influx of players to find any normalcy.  Eventually it will stabilize, but who knows when that will be.


I also want to play USCF rated games on-line, and for months now I have enjoyed weekly tournaments hosted by the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club through  Tuesday nights are two games of 35|2 with sections U1600 and Open, and Thursdays 60|10.  There are not as many players, but they try to make comparable pairings.  This link will show you the players.

Thanks Bruce_Hedman. A good option for serious rated players, but not inexpensive.

As SagebrushSea describes, it is a little challenging for a true U1000 player to match up well with someone 600 or more higher in rating.  Game count is another interesting metric when comparing players.  Players experienced at Blitz, with a game count over 3,000, enter a 960 U1000 with a low rating, because they've never played it. Compare that to a U100 game player also U1000 in rating.  Not really the same thing.  As jerrylmacdonald notes: "broken for now".



Two things.

First, thanks Bruce_Hedman.  I will definitely check it out.

Second, my main issue with  the Chess for All tournaments is that sections for lower rated players were flooded, at a Noah/Ark level,  with higher rated players .... whatever the rating system.  Maybe, as a friend pointed out, because there are cash prizes in these tournaments.  He also pointed out that, if those with provisional ratings over 1000 had not entered in the U1000 section, the income from entry fees would have totaled $25 (me) versus the $3,850 generated by the other 154 entrants.

The ratings I quoted are all lichess ratings.  I am aware of comparing apples to oranges to grapes to passion fruit to guava when it comes to ratings.  By only using the lichess ratings, I am attempting to keep identical fruits in the same basket.  I noted, in my first Chess for All tournament, that about half the players were UNR -- per lichess.  In the second, only about 15-20% were UNR.


Two more things.

More thanks, Bruce_Hedman, this is what I was looking for.  Expensive, yes, but much longer games are available ... I'm not a blitzer and can barely play rapid.

Second, thanks to ChessinBlakandWhite.  I understand the mechanism whereby a player rated in one type of timed chess is unrated in another --- particularly those who have never had an Online rating but who are playing online because that's all there is.  That is the reason, I think, large proportion of UNR entrants in the Chess for All tournaments.   It seems that Chess for All allocated a 1500 provisional rating for the first game for first time players, and it specifically stated that USCF OTB ratings would be used for initial pairings.  After that, each player had a provisional rating.  I appreciate your observation about going crazy trying to make sense of all of this.




Just two comments: 1. Many people are much stronger at one time control (e.g. blitz) than another (rapid or slow). 2. The vast majority of players rated under 1000 in any system are kids, and many of those kids have spent the past 11 months practicing chess every single day. Needless to say, their strength is no longer under 1000.


fpawn - Not sure the logic of  - it is OK to be unfair to kids and other novices because they are new is a persuasive argument.  There should be better controls and perhaps a new category (equivalent to scholastic - such as - development) to factor in other ratings, so that a "true" 900 level novice can play others with a similar rating.  That would be a fair way to do it.  Not all "Beginners" are Beth Harmon. Fair play is a policy of USCF - the current unrestricted open nature of many events could be improved upon.


Reality is that the under 1000 section in any open tournament will be dominated by kids, many of them highly underrated in US Chess due to the pandemic. (Even at my level of master, the majority of my tournament opponents are under age 16.)

There are so many different kinds of online tournaments, both US Chess rated and not. The Chess For All website states: "To be eligible to participate, the highest of a player's OTB regular rating or online quick rating, if it is established, will be taken into consideration." Note that US Chess OTB regular ratings are stale since few people have played since the pandemic began. The problem with US Chess online quick ratings are that many people have not played enough to be established (25 games). Therefore, the tournament typically uses the stale OTB regular rating, which for kids may be seriously low. You could write to the organizer and suggest a change.

I would not read too much into Lichess online ratings. The average Lichess rapid rating is around 1450 and only 10% of the players are rated under 1000. Contrast that to the US Chess rating pool, where the average rating is under 1200 and more than half of the members are rated under 1000.


I appreciate the sentiment, DTfencer89.

I also understand a basic tradeoff I must make.  The way things work OTB now, if I wanna play folks at my level, my choice is usually a section with lots of kids and short time controls.  If I wanna play longer games, my choice is usually in a section with the majority, if not all, of the players being rated higher than I am.  And the fewer entrants in a tourney, the more likely I will be playing at a higher level than I am at.

All of that is OK by me.  I have attempted for two years to play at the National Open in Las Vegas and I'm registered again this year.  We know what has happened to best laid plans.  It should have enough entries so that I would be paired against players at roughly my own level.

My consternation, revealed in the OP, was playing in a section of 155 players where I was the only player who entered with an appropriate rating.

I think my next tries will be with USCF and the Mechanics Institute.

SagebrushSea wrote:

My consternation, revealed in the OP, was playing in a section of 155 players where I was the only player who entered with an appropriate rating.

I think my next tries will be with USCF and the Mechanics Institute.

Has your recent tournament been rated yet? I assume all of the players in the under 1000 section had US Chess ratings that were under 1000 (if not, this would be an even bigger problem). However, you only saw the Lichess rapid ratings posted. As I stated above, the Lichess rating pool is substantially higher than US Chess, especially at the lower end.

You will find the Mechanics' Institute tournaments on Tuesday and Thursday nights to be different, since the pairings and standings on their website will show actual US Chess ratings. Also the time controls of 35+2 on Tuesdays and 60+5 on Thursdays are much more suitable for adults than 15+5. However, the tournaments are either an open section or have two sections separated at 1800.


I am concluding from all of this that I don't understand ratings and pairings to the extent I thought I did.  Thanks for all y'all's comments.

Thank you fpawn.  The recent tournament has not been rated yet.  My lichess rapid online rating is significantly higher than my USCF rating, which is solely based upon the rating from one tournament.    We'll see what happens when the latest tournament is rated.

I much prefer the Mechanics Institute time controls.  And the tourneys cost only a bit more than the Chess for All tourneys.  I've looked at some of the entrants lists and will be at the bottom to very bottom of the entrants ... which doesn't bother me.  I'm focused on the next possible OTB tournament and the experience will be beneficial.  At least I'll know where I stand.




Hello, I am one of the TDs for the Chess For All tournament that took place this weekend. First, I would've liked you to check with us with any concerns before trying to make accusations. In this tournament, we stated "To be eligible to participate, the highest of a player's OTB regular rating or online quick rating, if it is established, will be taken into consideration. Unrated players are eligible to register.". We have verified every players' ratings of OTB or Online Quick Rating. If either of those is established, according to US Chess, then we consider the higher number to be eligible for the U1000 section. All players were in that range for the U1000. As I stated in the Zoom meeting on the tournament day, we do not control Lichess ratings, nor do we take them into consideration for eligibility or prizes. All of our tournaments are with guaranteed cash prizes and we do our best to make sure all players qualify. As players come to the online tournaments, their ratings will adjust and if they play well, then they will move higher very quickly. I wish you would have contacted us before/during/after the tournament and give us the opportunity to explain to you how we qualify players into the under sections. We hope this answers your question.