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About the ratings

This page describes submitting tournaments for rating on the Australian Chess Federation rating list. Submitting tournaments for FIDE rating is beyond the scope of this document. The document is for information and any errors or ambiguities do not over-ride official policies and practices.

Submitting tournaments for rating

Tournaments must be submitted to the ACT Ratings Officer (with effect from 2005 that's me) on Swiss Perfect files. If your tournament was paired by hand or other software it should be typed into SP afterwards. Any club affiliated to ACTCA (or any other State association) is entitled to a free SP licence.

The single most important piece of information to include about each player, apart from their results, is the player's ACF number which should be entered in the Local ID field on the Add Player screen. The best way to enter this data is to set up your tournament by using SP's Import facility rather than typing in the names from scratch - after a bit of practice you will find that importing is quicker and more accurate than typing since importing also pulls in the player's rating.

The process of importing is simple and can be self-taught with minimal practice, but there are some notes, along with instructions on how to get the latest copy of the Master File, below.

When importing players make sure that the import settings, which you can adjust before you start, include loading the fields LOC_ID and LOC_RTG for local ID and rating respectively.

The Tournament Options screen should have the tournament name in the obvious place. In the Organiser field enter the following

The arbiter's name is optional for rating purposes, but it should be included to expedite quick resolution of any problem.

The page should look something like this:

To submit the tournament for rating you need to send three files which will have extensions of .trn, .sco and .ini to the ratings officer at The purpose of this address is so that people don't need to remember who is the ratings officer and to minimise the risk of mail getting lost in the flood of mails to a general address.

What can be rated?

Prior to 1 June 2013 ACF issued a Normal or "Classic" list and a Rapid, defined as at least 15 minutes, list. From that date the Rapid list was re-named the Quick list and was extended to include blitz/lightning tournaments. The following definition was notified:

A game will be rated in the Quick list if it is played at a time control of between 5 and 59 minutes per player for the whole game or if using increments they are of the form G/Xmins + Y secs per move where X is 3 to 29 and Y is not less than 2 or greater than 30, or where X is 30 to 59 and Y is less than 30.

Eligibily for the Normal list had already been defined as:

If you are planning anything exotic that doesn't obviously fit into the above then contact the ratings officer for advice first. Or better, don't plan anything more exotic, there are enough different time controls around already.

In addition to the requirements on speed a game must be played in accordance with the Laws of Chess (or rapid rules for the Rapid list). Thus chess variants (such as shuffle/"Fischer" rules and transfer), handicap/odds games, consultation games, "thematic" (compulsory opening) tournaments, simultaneous exhibitions, computer-assisted or correspondence games are not rateable.

However games played remotely by normal rules (for instance the Dorothy Dibley Shield) can be rated at the discretion of the ACF Ratings Officer. Team tournaments, provided they consist of games which of themselves meet the requirements (not, for instance, with a consultation element), can also be rated.

New players

Where a new player (someone not currently on the master list) turns up, it would be helpful if organisers could complete the fields Sex and Date of Birth on the New Player screen. If the name is reasonably common a middle initial could also be added.

If the player's date of birth is unknown but the player is obviously a junior please mention this when submitting results.

The information is collected for two reasons - for the generation of top lists (best women, best by age group etc), and to assist in identifying whether a player is somebody already on the list or is a new player.


Rating lists appear at three-monthly intervals with initial deadlines for submission a month prior. The schedule is as follows:

List issued Deadline
1st March 31st January
1st June 30th April
1st September 31st July
1st December 31st October

However if a tournament finishes in the month after the deadline but before the date of the list the ratings officers will often attempt to get it on the list. Note that inclusion of such tournaments is not guaranteed, and their inclusion is designed to maximise the usefulness of the system and is not an extension of the deadline for tournaments already concluded. Processing can be expedited by notifying the ratings officer in advance of tournaments due to finish in the post-deadline period, advising of new players in the tournament if possible, and submitting the SP files at the earliest opportunity.

Tournaments which should have been rated in a period and for some reason are not submitted can generally be submitted for the following list; after that the results may be regarded as stale and more likely to cause rather than correct anomalies. In any case organisers should, in fairness to players, get results in as quickly as possible.


1. ACF charges ACTCA a levy (approximately 30 cents per player per game or 10 cents for rapid games - note that this page may not necessarily be updated for changes in this so for budgetary purposes you should if in doubt contact ACTCA or ACF). This will be passed on to organisers.

2. It is ACTCA policy that players be members of ACTCA in order to have games submitted for rating, or alternatively pay an additional fee. The ratings officer will not reject games because a player has not yet caught up with joining, which would be unduly harsh. However it is assumed that organisers submitting games for rating are aware of and accept this requirement, and undertsand that the ACT Treasurer may be contacting them at some point.

3. Only games played at the board are rated. Forfeits and byes, while counting to the tournament score, are not rated. It is important that forfeits are correctly entered in SP (for instance +:-, not 1:0, and -:- rather than 0:0 for double forfeits). Include an explanatory note if unsure whether a game is correctly entered.

4. Provided the above requirements, such as rules, time controls, ACTCA membership and payment of the rating fee are met, games do not have to be played in clubs or weekenders to be rated; private tournaments may be accepted. "May" does not mean "must" and such games may be rejected if there is doubt as to their legitimacy.

5. Sometimes clubs organise one-off games in conjunction with a tournament, for example to give a game to somebody with a bye or to a player who cannot attend regularly, which they wish to have rated. This can be achieved either by inclucing the games in the SP files or setting up a separate "tournament" for the rated games, provided that the games are not entered to show the same player apparently playing twice in the same round - this is detected as an error in the rating program.

6. It is not possible to calculate your next rating with certainty but there is a useful facility on Barry Cox's page (see links in left-hand strip) which will generally give a good approximation.

Appendix 1: Importing from the Master File

Importing from the Master File saves time. In the first instance it doesn't save a lot of time so it is tempting just to take the path of least resistance and manually type in names, but this will catch up with you in the longer term. Importing names includes importing the players' ratings and ID numbers so you don't need to enter them later, and also imports data such as sex and date of birth so you can detect where data is missing from the file.

The first requirement is to have the Master File on your computer. To achieve this go the link MASTER FILE (at the left) and click on Latest. This will give you a zip file from which you can extract the file acfmast.trn (about 6MB which is why it is zipped) - put this on the same directory as your Swiss Perfect application, this directory will probably be called SP. (Use Options>Import Setup if for some reason you want to use it on a different directory.) Generally this will be an over-write of last quarter's file of the same name, so make a backup first if you are uncertain or like collecting old rating lists.

Please note that the file contained in the link is covered by the following copyright notice which also appears on the ACF ratings download page.:

The following files are the copyright of the Australian Chess Federation and by downloading them you agree that you may not, and may not permit or aid others to, modify, extract or otherwise reverse engineer the data in these files and import them to any other data file, database, application, program or system without the explicit written permission of the Australian Chess Federation.

The acfmast.trn for a quarter is updated about a fortnight after the list itself is released. The reason for this is that there may be late changes to the rating list so an immediate issue could lead to multiple versions of the Master floating around. Unless it is an important tournament, using the old version during this window will not cause undue difficulty (after all, had the tourmnament been a fortnight earlier these ratings would have applied) but if this worries you then you might want to manually update ratings you know to be substantially changed or new, or make adjustements while the first round is in progress.

After being copied to the SP directory the file is ready to use. From the list of player you can choose Player>Import from the menu, or the shortcut CTRL-I will also work, or if you have the Add Player panel up click on the Import New box.

You will get a screen something like this:

It seems that in the default setup the fields Club and Rating Loc are blank. Make sure that you complete the Rating Loc field or it won't import the rating. If you want to use the rapid rating list map the rating to LOC_RTG2 or use LOC_RTG as above for the normal rating list.

Often you will be prompted to create an index for searching, answer Yes to this. You can if you wish save the mapping, so you can save a separate Rapid and Normal version, though this isn't really necessary as the defaults are mostly what you want.

Having got this far you can now search one after the other for players using the Find function - enter the surname from the Search For prompt. You will see that the names are called up in groups and occasionally the name you want will be beyond the end of the group, in such cases choose the next group from the From-To list.

When all players have been entered you can proceed with the tournament and use add, delete and sort features exactly as if players had been entered by hand, including manually adding players not on the Master File. You can also edit the players, for instance to insert estimates for unrated player or team names in the Club field; this only applies for the tournament and does not update the Master File.

Note that the player list starts off with bare bones information (name and rating). You can display other fields by right-clicking in the list and choosing Display Options, whcih will give you this screen:

Highlight the field you want to show and tick the Show box. After ticking all the required fields click the OK box; you should now see the expanded display. It would be a good idea to at least display the Local ID, so you know who are new players, and the Date of Birth so that you can see whose DoB is missing from the Master File and ask them for it. This changes the display only for the list of players but you can use the same method to change other screens, for instance to include or exclude ratings or scores on the pairings.

Appendix 2: Getting a FIDE rating

The FIDE and ACF rating systems are completely separate but this section has been added as it is of interest to a number of people. Some of the answers may change over time so while the following will give you the general idea you should check with other sources such as the FIDE site or the ACF FIDE Ratings Officer (see links at left) if you need to know the details for certain; for instance if you are planning to organise a FIDE-rated tournament.

All paperwork is handled by the ACF FIDE Ratings Officer (refer Oceania FIDE ratings link at left) who is currently Greg Canfell. Operations of the ACF and FIDE ratings systems are unconnected, so a FIDE-rated tournament has to be submitted separately for FIDE and ACF rating. Be aware of the deadlines, which are different for the two systems.

To get a rating, the first point to realise is that tournaments are only FIDE rated if they have been registered for this purpose, which will normally be obvious from the tournament advertising. Playing a FIDE-rated player in any other tournament doesn't count, either to establish or adjust a rating. Tournaments must be registered with FIDE in advance, organisers can't decide later to rate the tournament.

The fastest time for FIDE ratings is different (slower) than for ACF ratings. FIDE also has a Rapid list and recently introduced a Blitz (or lightning) list.

The rules for FIDE rating of Swiss and round robin events are different. Subject to the further rules below, in a Swiss only games against FIDE-rated players count while all games in a round robin are included with unrated players considered to be rated at their performance rating for the purpose of rating their opponents' games.

You must play nine rated games to get a rating, which don't need to be in the same tournament or even the same rating period.

Note also that the games to establish a rating must be made over about two years (the rules change slightly withe the introduction of more recent lists), older games expire. However having made your rating you won't lose it through inactivity. You need to play at a certain rate (currently it seems to be four games in the last year) to avoid being moved to the Inactive list, but if that happens your rating still counts, and will be restored to Active when you resume playing.

The system has a "floor", which is progressively falling and will eventually will be (or already may be) 1000. If your rating falls below the floor you lose it, or will not get one for a performance below the floor.

A round robin tournament is only considered to be a round robin for rating purposes if all games are played. If there is even one forfeit or cancelled game the event is treated as a Swiss. Bringing in a substitute to finish the games of a withdrawer isn't a solution, the two players are both considered to have unplayed games. At least one-third of the players (rounded up), with a minimum of four, must be rated but there is no requirement to have any of them from overseas.

An unrated player who scores less than one point, in total not just against rated players, in a tournament is deemed not to have taken part. (The wording was somewhat ambiguous last time I read it, but this appears to be the interpretation.) This doesn't change the status of a round robin in the way that an unplayed game does, but it does mean that everybody in it has played one fewer game. In the case of a ten-player round robin this reduces the unrated players' fields from the magic number of nine to eight. (Presumbaly this rule is designed to prevent distortions from a player way below the standard of a tournament being severely flogged, scoring zero or one lucky draw.)

FIDE ratings are updated using what is essentially the original Elo scheme introduced c. 1966, named after its inventor, which is explained on the FIDE web site. This is different from the ACF system though the underlying philosophy is not dissimilar.

Appendix 3: Tournaments received

The following tournaments have been received for the next rating list.

Normal Rapid

If you have submitted a tournament which does not appear on this list after a reasonable interval please advise. The above list will be updated during each quarter and cleared when the rating list is published.

The history of tournaments rated since 2005 is also now available. Updated 12 September 2013