Handbook ::  C. General Rules and Technical Recommendations for Tournaments

C.04.2 General handling rules for Swiss Tournaments


Pairing Systems



The pairing system used for a FIDE rated Swiss tournament should be one of the published FIDE Swiss Systems.
Accelerated methods are acceptable if they were announced in advance by the organizer and are published in section C.04.5.



In derogation of the previous rule, unpublished pairing systems or accelerated methods may be permitted, provided that a detailed written description of their rules:

  1. be submitted in advance to the Qualification Commission (QC) and temporarily authorized by them; and
  2. be explicitly presented to the participants before the start of the tournament.



While reporting a tournament to FIDE, the Arbiter shall declare which official FIDE Swiss system and acceleration method (if any) were used, or provide the temporary authorization(s) given by the QC as per the previous rule.



The Swiss Pairing Systems defined by FIDE and not deprecated (see C.04.4) pair the players in an objective, impartial and reproducible way.
In any tournament where such systems are used, different arbiters, or different endorsed software programs, must be able to arrive at identical pairings.



It is not allowed to alter the correct pairings in favour of any player.
Where it can be shown that modifications of the original pairings were made to help a player achieve a norm or a direct title, a report may be submitted to the QC 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 alphabetically (unless it has been previously stated that this criterion has been replaced by another one)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.
If, for any reason, the data used to determine the rankings were not correct, they can be adjusted at any time. The pairing numbers may be reassigned accordingly to the corrections. No modification of a pairing number is allowed after the fourth round has been paired.


Late Entries



According to FIDE Tournament Rules, any prospective participant who has not arrived at the venue of a FIDE competition before the time scheduled for the drawing of lots shall be excluded from the tournament unless he shows 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 latecomer,

  • 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 ("Late Entry"), then the player is not paired for the rounds which he cannot play. Instead, he receives no points for unplayed rounds (unless the rules of the tournament say otherwise), and is given an appropriate pairing number and paired only when he actually arrives.



If there are late entries, 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.



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 pairing is 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 zero (unless the rules of the tournament say otherwise).



Only played games count in situations where the colour sequence is meaningful. So, for instance, a player with 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.



Two paired players, who did not play their game, may be paired together in a future round.



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

  • a 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.04.2.C.3),

and a player communicates this to the arbiter within a given deadline after publication of results, the new information shall be used for the standings and the pairings of the next round. The deadline shall be fixed in advance according to the timetable of the tournament.
If the error notification is made after the pairing but before the end of the next round, it 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 publishing them.
The sorting criteria are (with descending priority)

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



Once published, the pairings shall not be changed unless they are found to violate C.04.1.b (Two players shall not play against each other more than once).

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