Rating FAQs

Why have a rating system?

Chess definitely can still be fun without them, but they are useful. Ratings are there because there are situations where using them can improve the chess playing experience.

  • Tournament seeding: getting better matched games
  • Tournament Pairing: a tie breaker to regulate the process
  • Tournament sectioning: again getting better matched games
  • Tournament qualification/invitation: a criterion to restrict entries
  • Team selection: an impartial selection tool and a criterion to reduce board order abuse
  • Titles: maintaining standards for awards
  • To monitor individual strength over time: this is often important to players, especially new players.

Why use the Elo system for rating?

It helps that FIDE, the world body uses this system. While there are differences, people only have to familiarise themselves with one process.

Then why have a separate national system?

The ECF wants to support all its members. FIDE does not rate all results: excluding some games against new players, those players with too low a rating and games that do not meet the full rules of chess.

How are monthly ratings calculated?

The method is set out here —https://www.ecfrating.org.uk/v2/help/help_rating.php

Why rate non-members – they haven’t paid?

It is in members’ interests that as many games as possible are rated. Often the non-member’s opponents will suffer and they will be members.

Why include a dummy result for new players?

There are three reasons –

  1. Inclusion tends to stabilise population average ratings
  2. Extreme results occasionally happen; inclusion recognises that such an event might be an outlier
  3. The method ensures all results can be rated

FIDE discard results against unrated players, so why complicate by attempting to rate such results?

The ECF has decided that as many games as possible should be rated. This recognises that the system is aimed at serious recreational rather than elite chess.

FIDE ratings are different from ECF ratings is there a conversion?

There will always be differences since games played under each jurisdiction are different and the systems are not identical. There is no ideal fit, but the ECF recommends:

FIDE = 0.6xECF +700 up to 1750ECF with parity above that level.

Why do juniors have an alternative k-factor?

Generally younger players improve, a robust system should allow for this. The higher upwards k-factor is a way of handling this situation. Analysis has shown that doubling the upwards k-factor has maintained the all-list average rating.

Why limit the k-factor for very active players?

This is a technical adjustment for the way Elo works. At this limit the unadjusted formula would rate a player entirely on the results of that month.

My rating is wrong, what do I do?

The system is robust, so it will have been calculated correctly based on the supplied data. One can check a rating by clicking on a red coloured rating (post July 2020); that will take one to a detailed calculation of that rating. Sometimes a result might be incorrectly recorded. For over the board chess, these can be found by going to the profile page and clicking ‘View OTB Results’. You may need to review the default buttons at the top of the page. If you think there is an error there contact rating@englandchess.org.uk, setting out all the details.

I have two rating codes, what do I do?

Contact rating@englishchess.org.uk giving full details.

Explain the categories?

Categories give an indication of how reliable ratings are. There are four categories:

  • Category A: all ratings of players who have 30 or more rated results in the previous 12 calendar months
  • Category K: all ratings of players not qualifying as A with full active ratings that will be updated by the K-method. Like ratings with category A these can be treated as reliable.
  • Category P: all ratings of players with active ratings that will be updated by the P-method. Such ratings are published but because of limited data, player’s strength should be assessed with wider evidence where available
  • Unrated: where a player has no rated result in the previous 36 calendar months. A returning player whose rating has expired will be treated as a new player with one dummy game assuming a draw against an opponent with the players last full rating if that is higher than the default rating.

Older ratings (or grades) used a different set of categories. Until the May 2022 list, grades/ratings were designated A-F with additional categories X and *. These operated with minor modifications over the whole history. The A category is broadly similar to the new A category. Thereafter ratings followed rules relating to the various averaging rules used in the grading calculations, working downwards to F being the least reliable. Category X was stronger than A and * sat below F. Between June 2022 and January 2023 some ratings were given category H; these ratings were for playing records that did not resolve clearly into either category K or P at transition to monthly ratings. The new category P is considered a replacement for both the F and * categories.

Isn’t the adult initial rating too high for someone new to chess?

In a monthly system efficiency only comes with maximum automation, so the ECF needs a rule. The first point is that no one starts with their dummy rating, they have to have at least one other result and this will normally get the rating on the way towards their level. Many players new to our records have already picked up experience online or have been playing abroad. This may be the most contentious area in the ECF approach and there have been glaring misratings (as there must be given the number of new players and the probability of an outlier). The parameter is under review but so far players attaining a full rating tend to increase that rating thereafter, suggesting it might be a bit low.

Can my games in other countries be included?

In certain circumstances they can, see https://www.englishchess.org.uk/grading/rating-games-played-abroad