[last updated 27.10.2015 RJH]
Probably no one will need to read all through this guide. Experienced organisers may have no need of it at all, though they are invited to skim through it (the fourth and fifth sections may be worth attention)
The first three sections are intended for organisers with little or no experience of grading, including those who have never had an event graded and would like to know how.
What events can be graded?
Anything, so long as it is played with clocks – at least 10 minutes each – under normal competition rules (“normal” embraces quickplay finishes, adjournments, Fischer timings, even adjudication)
Club internal championships, large or small, are very gradeable. There is one proviso: events, or sections of events, are graded whole or not at all. Results are accepted from organisers, not from individual players.
How do I get my event graded?
You can’t just send your results to the ECF Office. Results have to be processed by a local grader who will turn them into a form the ECF computer can accept, before sending them to the ECF Grading Administrator on your behalf. There are approximately 100 local graders. They have specialised software, and access to more information about players than is available in the online grading list.
So you need to find a local grader. Sometimes this is easy. Leagues and counties usually have their own appointed graders, who often undertake (for example) club internal grading from their area in addition to their mainstream work. If you know who your local grader is, approaching him may answer your question at once. If not, contact the ECF Grading Administrator – firstname.lastname@example.org – who will find a grader for you. See also Can I be my own grader? further down.
Graders are not usually paid for their regular league or county work. However, a grader may sometimes make a charge for a large “out-of-house” job – a whole new congress, say. This is a private arrangement between him and you. The ECF may also make a charge: see Game Fee at the foot of this page.
How do I give results to the grader?
That is between you and the grader. People sometimes use physical media: match result cards in a league, say, or pairing cards in a congress (if you use the post, be sure to keep a backup. Whole congresses have been lost through not doing so.)
Increasingly, results are transferred electronically. A grader may take results straight from a league or congress website, or by email from an internal club organiser.
When do I give results to the grader?
It depends largely on the nature of the event.
Congresses and other one-off events (jamborees, for example) should be reported as quickly as possible. Congresses count towards the ECF Grand Prix, but only if the grading results reach the ECF within one month. The ECF, not the local grader. You need to give the grader time to meet this deadline. In practice most events reach the ECF well within the month. Same-day is not unheard of.
Leagues and club championships, and other longer-term events, should be reported at the end of each halfyear*, or earlier if they finish earlier. If the volume of results is considerable the grader may prefer to have them in (say) monthly instalments so he can keep abreast.
*What’s a halfyear? Grades are calculated twice a year, so leagues and club championships need to report twice a year. The halfyears run from 1st July to 31st December and from 1st January to 30th June. Graders have to report to the ECF within 20 days of these deadlines, so you need to be reasonably prompt.
What happens if you omit the New Year report and just send all your results at the end of the season? They will still be graded, but all of them will go into the July grading. This means the January grades will be inaccurate. They will not be amended retrospectively.
Note that congresses are not split at the halfyear. A congress straddling two halfyears will normally be treated as though it fell entirely in the second of them.
What information must I give to the grader?
For the event
• Name (and location, if not obvious)
• Starting and finishing dates
• The rate of play
For each player
• Grading Code (eg 123456A) if known. Grading codes may be found in the online grading list, where they are called “Ref”. Remember that players returning to chess after an absence will be invisible in the online list till you turn “inactive” on. Their codes are still valid.
• Full name. Not just initial and surname. Initial-and-surname is probably the biggest single cause of confusion between players, particularly when the initial is T for Anthony. On no account give initial-and-surname if the player is new (that is, if he has no grading code). A new player who enters a congress giving initial-and-surname should be asked for his forename. In a league, match captains who enter players with initial-and-surname should be lined up against a wall and/or made to give proper information. The latter aim may seem hopeless, but is not. Some leagues achieve it, usually by requiring clubs to register their players in advance, giving all necessary information. After that the match captains may enter names as they will.
• Club. Club will be obvious in a team, or club internal, event. In other events, club is required for new players but is otherwise optional. If a new player has no club, give his place of residence. DO NOT give a club simply because you have found it by a player’s name in the grading list. It may be out of date. Sooner than that, give no club at all.
• Date of birth, if known. For juniors (under 18 on 31st August of the current season) date of birth is essential if they are to get the age-related grading bonus they are entitled to.
• Sex, optionally (and especially if not obvious from the name).
For each game
• the round number in a Swiss, or board number in a match
• the result
• the date (or date of match, in a league). Dates may not be known in a club internal event; in this case, try to sort the games into (say) one-month blocks.
• the colours, if known.
If players play each other twice in the same match (or tournament), give the games separately. Not added up to make a score out of 2.
Byes and defaults have no effect on the grading, but can be given if you wish. In a congress they enable the grader to produce accurate crosstables, which may be of interest to you. Please, if you report wins by default, make it clear that they are wins by default. If a default looks like a real result, against a named opponent, it will be graded as a real result.
Can I be my own grader?
Yes. This makes sense if you organise a reasonable amount of chess, especially if no other grader is readily available. Becoming a grader will enable you to submit your results direct to the ECF. Contact the Grading Administrator on email@example.com, who can give you the necessary information and software. The software is written for Windows (up to Windows 10, but anything from XP and probably earlier is fine). There will obviously be some commitment of time on your part. You will need emailing facilities, plus modest computer literacy, and quite probably MS Excel (need not be recent). Excel emulations saved by other programs may not be compatible with the grading system. Ask the Grading Administrator if in doubt.
Being your own grader makes specially good sense if you run congresses using —
Tournament Director (now called UTU Swiss) – http://www.tournamentdirector.co.uk
This is a commercially available program whose main function is to assist in running congresses by making Swiss pairings and doing a variety of printouts. But, having done a congress, it will also produce grading output for it in a form the ECF computer can read. Excel not required. Normally this output would still need to go to a local grader before it reaches the ECF, because the grader has software and information not available to TD. By writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and becoming a grader yourself, you acquire these things and can make them available to TD. This enables you, should you so wish, to send your grading results to the ECF within half an hour of completing the congress.
The ECF does not market Tournament Director and has no responsibility for it, but it is widely used, by graders among others, and has been found to do this job correctly.
The ECF normally makes a charge for grading the games of players who are not ECF members. See the explanatory page here