Rated or Unrated - That is the Question!

Most of our local tournaments have both rated and unrated sections. A rated section is one in which the results are reported to the United State Chess Federation (USCF) and players are assigned numerical ratings according to a complex and arcane formula. In order for a section to be rated, all participants must be members of the United States Chess Federation, and the section must be run according to USCF guidelines. In practice, what this means is that the stronger and more serious players tend to play in rated sections, while beginners and more casual players tend to prefer unrated sections.

Tournaments frequently have more than one rated section, with players being separated by rating. One section (usually called the Open or Championship section) is for the very best players, while there may be one or more other rated sections (usually called the Reserve section, or Under XXXX section) for players rated under a certain level, or for players with no rating at all. Some rated scholastic tournaments have sections based on age as well. Tournaments usually have several unrated sections as well, and these are almost always based on age (or grade in school).

So which section should you enter? The rule of thumb is if you don't know, enter an unrated section. If you are experienced enough or strong enough to enjoy rated play, you probably already know it. Unrated play also has the advantage of not needing a USCF membership, so you can try out tournament chess at a lower cost.

Remember that you must be a USCF member for rated play. You may buy a membership directly from the USCF, or I can take care of it for you.

Questions or problems? Contact Joe Riegsecker at joepye@pobox.com.

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Created on November 27, 2014.  Updated on November 27, 2014  Comments to joepye@pobox.com.

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