How do I get my first #chess grade?

If you've just started playing chess in tournaments, then you may have noticed that the more experienced competitors have little numbers next to their names, like this;

This means they have an English Chess Federation grade.  The list is published twice a year in July (for games played between 1st January and 30th June) and January (for games played between 1st July and 31st December).

You can look up anyone's grade on the ECF Grading Database.  You can see who you have played and what the result was. You can also look up any games that have been submitted for grading that will be included in your next grading calculation.

From left to right you can see the ECF grading code, the player's name, their ECF membership category, gender, the age (if a junior), the club(s) they belong to, the ECF standard / previous standard / ECF rapid grade / previous rapid grade.  

The letters denote categories of grade.  X indicates you have played more than 30 games in the current grading period.

If you join as a member of the ECF you may not have a grade yet, but you will get that important grading code which helps organisers identify you - and you should quote that when entering tournaments. This is different from a FIDE ID number or FIN, which you'll get if you play in any FIDE rated events.

How do I get a grade?

Simple: play 9 graded games during the grading period in graded tournaments or for a club in a graded league.  You can see a list of tournaments on the ECF website in their calendar. There are separate lists for games played at standard rates of play and rapidplay.  The world chess federation FIDE has lists for standard, rapidplay and blitz!

Any event I run is usually graded and part of the ECF Grand Prix, and FIDE rated in the appropriate list.

How are grades calculated?

This is quite complicated. The following lovely explanation is taken from the official ECF grading database (click the 'help' button to see the full text).

The basic method of calculation is as described in the next few paragraphs. For juniors, however, there are differences as described further down.

Points are allocated in respect of each game. For a win you score the opponent's grade plus 50, for a draw the opponent's grade, and for a loss the opponent's grade minus 50. "Grade" means his grade current at the time of grading. There is a proviso that if your opponent's grade differs from yours by more than 40 points it is assumed to be exactly 40 above (or below) yours. This applies whatever the result.

If an opponent (or the player himself) is ungraded, a "starting grade" grade is estimated, using all available information. See Estimating a starting grade for an ungraded player below. Note that FIDE ratings are ignored. An opponent who has only a FIDE rating will be treated as ungraded.

In the interval between the end of a grading period and publication of the new grades, the "current" grade for calculation purposes is the new, as yet unpublished, grade.
The grade is calculated by dividing the total number of points scored by the number of games played. If there are 30 or more games in the most recent halfyear, then the grade is based on these games alone. If there are not, it is based on the most recent 30 games played; or on all the games played in the last 36 months if that is less. In no case does calculation go back more than 36 months.

How is "most recent 30" interpreted if a number of games share a date and only some of them are required to make up the 30? Answer: the system takes as many as are required, at the average score for the date.

How is "most recent 30" interpreted if a game has been reported late and graded in the "wrong" period? Answer: the game will be listed under the grading period in which it was calculated, and it will go into that period's grade with a notional playing date of 1st January (or 1st July as the case may be). This notional date will be used, where necessary, to determine the game's position in the backward count to 30.

What if my opponent has no grade? 

At the end of the season the grader has information about your ungraded opponents that allows them to calculate their new grade - and from that grade they will calculate your grade.  Sometimes your opponent has another kind of grade, such as a rapid grade, and this is used once just to estimate their strength.

previously on chess circuit...

chess england tournament calendar

Official Staunton
Get your chess sets and boards for schools and clubs from Chess4Schools.

Here is a list of FIDE registered tournaments in England. There will be a separate entry for each section of each event (e.g. Golders Green Rapidplay = 4 sections, 4 registrations). If you see any of mine missing, do let me know! 

Scroll down to the bottom to access the archive of events. 

Only games where at least one of the players has a published standard FIDE rating will be rated, and included in the rating calculations of the unrated player. Where both players are rated, the game will affect both players and will be included in the calculations for both players.

more stuff

check our calendar for more chess events | FIDE registered events in England
ECF Calendar entry | Chess England list of events | follow me on Twitter | follow me on Facebook
download an entry form from Smore
Flickr Album of chess photographs | Check your FIDE rating here
Check your ECF grade here
Read the tournament website: | Golders Green Rapidplay | Hampstead Congresses | Golders Green Congress
- Muswell Hill Rapidplay | - Hendon Blitz
English Chess Forum - why not post about the tournament? | Facebook event
Google+ event | Write something for ChessMoves especially for members of the ECF

chess congresses in hampstead

muswell hill (east finchley) rapidplay chess

golders green fide rapid chess