Handbook ::  C. General Rules and Recommendations for Tournaments

C.04.2 General handling rules for Swiss Tournaments


Pairing Systems



The pairing system used for a FIDE rated tournament shall be either one of the published FIDE Swiss Systems or a detailed written description of the rules shall be explicitly presented to the participants.



While reporting a tournament to FIDE the Arbiter shall declare which of the official FIDE Swiss systems was used. If another system was used, the Arbiter has to submit the rules of  this system for checking by the Swiss Pairing Committee.



Accelerated methods are acceptable if they were announced in advance by the organizer and are not biased in favour of any player.



The FIDE Swiss Rules pair the players in an objective and impartial way, and different arbiters or software programs following the pairing rules should arrive at identical pairings.



It is not allowed to vary the correct pairings in favour of any player.
Where it can be shown that modifications of the original pairings were made in favour of a player to achieve a norm, a report may be submitted to the Qualification Commission to initiate disciplinary measures through the Ethics Commission.


Initial Order



Before the start of the tournament a measure of the player’s strength is assigned to each player. The strength is usually represented by rating lists of the players. If one rating list is available for all participating players, then this rating list should be used.  
It is advisable to check all ratings supplied by players. If no reliable rating is known for a player the arbiters should make an estimation of it as accurately as possible.



Before the first round the players are ranked in order of,  respectively

  1. Strength (rating)
  2. FIDE-title (GM-IM- WGM-FM-WIM-CM-WFM-WCM-no title)
  3. alphabetically (unless it has been previously stated that this criterion has been replaced by another one)



This ranking is used to determine the pairing numbers; the highest one gets #1 etc.


Late Entries



According to FIDE Competition Rules, any prospective participant who has not arrived at the venue of a FIDE competition before the scheduled time for the drawing of lots shall be excluded from the tournament as long as he does not show up at the venue in time before a pairing of another round.
An exception may be made in the case of a registered participant who has given written notice in advance that he will be unavoidably late.



Where the Chief Arbiter decides to admit a Late Entrant,

  • if the player's notified time of arrival is in time for the start of the first round, the player is given a pairing number and paired in the usual way.
  • if the player's notified time of arrival is in time only for the start of the second (or third) round, then the player is not paired for the rounds which he cannot play. Instead, he receives no points for unplayed rounds (unless the regulations of the tournament say otherwise), and is given an appropriate pairing number and paired only when he actually arrives.



In these circumstances, the Pairing Numbers that were given at the start of the tournament are considered provisional. The definitive Pairing Numbers are given only when the List of Participants is closed, and corrections made accordingly in the results charts.


Pairing, colour and publishing rules



Adjourned games are considered draws for pairing purposes only.



Byes, and pairings not actually played, or lost by one of the players due to arriving late or not at all, will not be taken in account with respect to colour. Such a pairing is not considered to be illegal in future rounds.



Unplayed games do not count in any situation where the colour sequence is meaningful. So, for instance, if a player has a colour history of BWB=W (i.e. no valid game in round-4) will be treated as if his colour history was =BWBW. WB=WB will count as =WBWB, BWW=B=W as ==BWWBW and so on.



A player who is absent without notifying the arbiter will be considered as withdrawn unless the absence is explained with acceptable arguments before the next pairings are published.



Players who withdraw from the tournament will no longer be paired.



Players known in advance not to play in a particular round are not paired in that round and score 0 (unless the regulations of the tournament say otherwise).



The results of a round shall be published at the usual place of communication at announced time due to the schedule of the tournament.



If either          

  • result was written down incorrectly, or
  • a game was played with the wrong colours, or
  • a player's rating has to be corrected (and playing numbers possibly recomputed as in C.3),

and a player communicates this to the arbiter within a given due time delay after publication of results, these facts have to be used for the standings and the pairings of the round to come. The time delay shall be fixed in advance due to the timetable of the tournament.
If the error notification is made after the pairing but before the end of the next round, this will affect the next pairing to be done.
If the error notification is made after the end of the next round, the correction will be made after the tournament for submission to rating evaluation only.



After a pairing is complete sort the pairs before making them public.
The sorting criteria are (with descending priority)

  • the score of the higher player of the pairing involved;
  • the sum of the scores of both players of the pairing involved;
  • the rank according to the Initial Order (C.04.2.B) of the higher player of the pairing involved.



The pairings once published shall not be changed unless two players have to play the second time.

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