Handbook ::  C. General Rules and Recommendations for Tournaments

C.04.A Appendix: Endorsement of a software program




To manage big Swiss tournaments, the use of computer programs, to handle players’ data, pairings and results, is necessary.
To avoid misunderstandings and to support both the organisers and the arbiters, FIDE recommends the use of computer programs endorsed by FIDE itself, after a successful endorsement procedure.


The endorsement procedure for a pairing system


Each author of a program that helps to manage a chess tournament can apply for the FIDE endorsement by submitting an FE-1 form (see Annex-1).
For an endorsement application to be considered, the program must be able to manage Swiss tournaments using the FIDE (Dutch) System (see C.04.3) or any other pairing systems approved by FIDE (see C.04.4.1-3). The endorsement is given for the specific pairing systems (one or more).
Any program asking for endorsement should provide (explicitly or implicitly) a FIDE mode, which should offer all the functionalities and services required by FIDE for a tournament-managing program to be endorsable (see below).
The program is to be endorsed in the FIDE mode.
Moreover, it must provide the following services:

  • an English language interface
  • the capability to import and export files coded in the FIDE Data Exchange Format (see A.3.1 and Annex-4)
  • the public availability of a (free) pairings checker (FPC - see A.4)
  • the public availability of a (free) generator of simulated tournaments (RTG, see A.5), unless exempted by the System of Pairings and Programs Commission (SPPC)
  • the possibility to be checked in a controlled environment the compliance with all the requirements presented in the Verification Check List (see Annex-4)

The applicant should consider that merely complying with all the aforementioned requirements is not enough to receive a FIDE endorsement.


The FIDE mode may also offer additional services or functionalities, provided that they are not explicitly prohibited by FIDE, on condition that those services and functionalities may not cause pairing mishaps for FIDE mode users.
If, during the period of validity of the endorsement (see A.8), a breach of the above conditions is reported to the SPPC, and verified by the Commission, the endorsement may be immediately suspended (pending further investigation) or permanently revoked. In the latter case, the program reverts to the status of a new program to endorse.



Data Exchange formats and files



FIDE Data Exchange Format



See Annex-2/TRF16 or TRF06 for the descriptions of the current FIDE Data Exchange Format (version 2016, also called TRF16) or the old one (version 2006, also called TRF06).



Tournament Report File (TRF)



It is a file coded in TRF16 or TRF06.


(Free) Pairings Checker (FPC)


An External Pairings Checker is a tool, embedded in the main program and containing the pairing engine, that can be freely used by anyone (without the user interface).
For instance, be yourprogram.exe the name of the program executable. It is (normally) launched by a command prompt or double-clicking on it. The regular services it offers are not relevant from the (External Pairings) checker viewpoint.
What it is expected from a checker is the possibility to launch yourprogram.exe from a command prompt with some parameters, like in:

yourprogram.exe -check FIDE_Report_File.fid

The checker must be able to read FIDE_Report_File.fid when coded in TRF16 and should be able to read it when coded in TRF06 (within the limitations of such a format). Then, for each round, the checker must rebuild the tournament, pair the round using the embedded pairing engine, and output a report describing which pairings are or are not consistent with those produced by the pairing engine.


Random Tournament Generator (RTG)


The RTG is a freely available tool that, preferably run from a command prompt, can easily generate many simulated tournaments producing a full TRF (TRF16) file for each of them.
In all those tournaments, the pairing rules implemented by the pairing engine must be strictly followed. It is recommended that the games results may somewhat respect the probabilities given by the FIDE rating table (see pairings.fide.com -Documents section-, for suggestions on how to code such a probability table).


The first endorsement procedure for a pairing system


A subcommittee of four people must be named by the SPPC at the first Congress that follows the application for the endorsement of a program, as long as such naming activity is inserted into the SPPC agenda. The subcommittee shall report to the next Congress whether the program is suitable to be endorsed.


Endorsement for pairings systems when other programs have already been endorsed for the same pairing system


As the verification of the pairing engine can be performed by computerized methods, and all the tools needed for such verification are freely available to the authors, the endorsement request can reach the SPP secretariat at any moment, as long as this is at least four months before the Congress to which it would be presented.
As, by definition, an external RTG is available, it will be used to generate 5000 random tournaments. Such tournaments will be given in input to the candidate FPC and each discrepancy, as long as there are at most 10 of them, will be collected.

Such discrepancies may depend on either:

  • an error in the input file (i.e. they are the responsibility of the endorsed program which provided the RTG) [or]
  • an error coming from the candidate [or]
  • an interpretation divergence caused by unclear rules

Errors of the first type must be redirected to the RTG provider. Problems of the third type are redirected to the SPPC, which should issue a statement describing the proper interpretation, and then fix the problems in the successive revision of the rules. Errors of the second type must be corrected in a reasonable time-frame before the candidate is presented to the Congress for endorsement.
If the candidate has its own RTG, the latter is used to generate 5000 random tournaments, which will be then given in input to one (or more) of the available FPC(s). The analysis of the discrepancies is conducted in the same way as above.


SPPC Evolution Plan



Endorsement Cycle



It is a four-year period running from January 1st of YearX+1 to December 31st of YearX+4, where X is a leap year (for instance 2016, 2020, ...).
Any endorsement given during the first three years of the Endorsement Cycle will last until the end of the Endorsement Cycle.
No endorsement is given during the last year of the Endorsement Cycle, unless the SPPC decides otherwise. FE-1 applications can only be presented for the following Endorsement Cycle.



Transition Period



It is a time-period lasting from January 1st of YearX+1 (i.e. the year of the beginning of the Endorsement Cycle) to the Congress of the same year.
It is the period during which the SPPC shall run the endorsement procedures of the programs that either were already endorsed or are presented for endorsement before the end of the previous Endorsement Cycle (i.e. December 31st of YearX).



Interim Certificate



Any program that passes the endorsement procedure during the Transition Period receives an interim certificate, which will allow the program to be immediately used with FIDE approval.
A list of the interim certified programs will be available on pairings.fide.com for the whole Transition Period.
The ensuing Congress will then transform such certificate in an official endorsement, unless a formal complaint against the software is brought to the attention of the SPPC before the Congress itself.



List of FIDE endorsed programs (see also Annex 3)



The official endorsement of a program is decided at the Congress that follows the presentation of the proper application.
Any program that is officially endorsed is inserted into a list of endorsed programs. Such list is an annex to this section and, consequently, is part of the FIDE Handbook.
An endorsed program shall be removed from the above list if it fails to pass the endorsement procedure run during the Transition Period, and the ensuing Congress (i.e. the Congress of YearX+1) acknowledges the failure.



Rule Amendments



If there is any variation or major clarification of the pairing rules, the SPPC shall define such changes at last for the Congress of YearX+3.
This kind of changes normally comes into force on July 1st of YearX+5. However (see rule A.8.3) interim certified programs may already use the amended rules as soon as they are endorsed during the Transition Period of YearX+5.
During the Transition Period, if there is a theoretical possibility for a conflict, the tournament directors shall communicate to the players which version of the rules they are going to use in the tournament.


Currently endorsed programs


See Annex-3, containing the list of the endorsed programs and useful information related to them.


Section annexes



Application for Swiss Pairing Program FIDE Endorsement



Tournament Report File Format (version 2006)


Tournament Report File Format (version 2016)



List of FIDE Endorsed Programs



Verification check-list


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