US Chess Ratings

US Chess Ratings Defined in Plain English

The chess rating is a measure of a persons chess playing strength.  When you play in a tournament which is endorsed by the US Chess Federation (USCF).  When the tournament is completed then the director submits the results to the USCF.  This is usually done using special chess pairing software.  This will use certain criteria to calculate the ratings of each participant, based on the performance in the tournament.

When someone plays in the first tournament, they will receive a provisional rating.  Then when the player plays 25 rated games, then it becomes their official standard rating.  These are more accurate and considered fairly reliable.  Official ratings do change when you win, draw, or lose each game, but not as much as the provisional rating.

Stormont Kings Chess uses this as a guideline/estimation as rating categories for scholastic players:

Over 900 – Advanced

700-900 – Intermediate

500-700 – Advanced Beginner

Under 500 – Beginner

The provisional rating is calculated (first 25 games played)

  1.  List the ratings of their opponents in their first tournament (unrated would count as 1000)
  2. Add 400 points to each player they win, minus 400 they lose.
  3. Sum this up of adjusted list of opponents ratings to find the average
  4. This gives an estimated rating (of course the USCF will do all these calculations for you)

The official rating, the USCF will keep the ratings of all your opponents on file, plus or minus the 400 point adjustments described above, and will recalculate

The USCF will keep the ratings of all your opponents on file, plus or minus the 400 points depending on a win or loss, then recalculate your rating for each new tournament, then your new rating will be assigned.

The regular rating is calculated (after your 25 tournament games):

The calculation is now different.  From now on you will gain 2 – 32 points for each person you win.  Let’s say you win someone with the same rating, then you win 16 points for that game.  If you win someone 400 points lower than you then you will only gain 2 rating points.  Now if you win someone 400+ then you gain 32 points.  Keep in mind this is for each game and you cannot control who you play in each game.

Now you have a brief understanding on how the USCF rating system works.


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