World of Chess Tournaments


“All I ever want to do is just play chess”!!

Robert James Fischer
XI World Chess Champion

Parent’s Guide to World of Chess Tournaments

By FI. Praful Zaveri
You have initiated your child to this wonderful world of chess and, to your pleasant surprise you have discovered that he has something in him to excel at chess! Further (and to your amazement), your daily game of chess with him is now becoming a one-sided affair and he is now craving for stronger opponents! It therefore dawns upon you that now is the time to introduce him to this wonderful world of chess tournaments so as to fuel his passion and realize the potential however; you do not know from where to start with!

Having a chess trainer solves this dilemma but if you are yet to find a trainer for him, you will be required to search the net or contact your friends/family members who have something to do with chess tournaments. Though internet is stuffed with quantum of information on chess tournaments beyond what the humans can comprehend, you will rarely find information which you really need to get moving! However, you need not worry – the following guide has been prepared for parents like you and, I am sanguine that once you are through with this article, you will be better equipped to handle your child’s need for participation in the chess tournaments.

Hierarchy of chess associations:

Before we go into different types of chess tournaments, our first guide is to learn about the hierarchy of chess association right from a district chess body to the pinnacle (the hierarchy listed below has been taken from the perspective of India, Maharashtra & Mumbai).
The apex body of chess governing chess at international arena is ‘World Chess Tournaments’ – popular known by its French acronym ‘FIDE’ (Federation Internationale des Echecs) You can browse for more details on fide @
Below these are national member federations (India: All India Chess Federation - more details on All India Chess Federation @ The state federations follows the national federation. (for the State of Maharashtra: Maharashtra Chess Association - more details on Maharashtra Chess Association @

Last in the hierarchy is district bodies and, in a big city like Mumbai, it is bifurcated in two parts – Mumbai City Chess Association & Mumbai Suburban Chess Association. Please find the graphical presentation of hierarchy of the federations:

In addition to the above, we have a good number of chess societies, private academies and schools who are affiliated to these associations.

Different Formats of Chess Tournaments:

Here we shall examine different types of chess tournaments, which are regularly being organized by these bodies. Basically, there are two types of tournaments (in terms of rate of play, duration):
  1. Rapid Tournaments (We exclude Blitz tournaments from this purview)

  2. Classical Tournaments

Rapid Tournaments:

The first tournament mentioned is a good way to get going for your child. Normally, the entire event is concluded in just one-day with each game lasting about 40 to 50 minutes and played over 6/7 rounds.Tournaments like Inter-School, District Selection, Age-category Open are abundantly in Mumbai held under this format.  

Classical Tournaments:

The tournaments under this format is real and vintage chess! They are conducted with a classical time-control of 90 minutes + 30 seconds per player and the duration ranges from 5 to 9 days. On an average, a game lasts 3-hours and a maximum of 2-rounds are held every day (in some case – only 1-round a day). Once your child develops patience, you should straightaway opt for enrolling him into this type of event. Tournaments like State & National Championships and Prize Money Tournaments are held this format. Such events are publicized 45 days prior to their start and hence you can really plan this event well ahead. We see an average of 6 tournaments in this format in Mumbai.

Level of Official Chess Tournaments

Here is the level of official chess tournaments, which is again shown as hierarchy. The participation at the base of this pyramid is very high and each qualification to the next level reduces the number.

On browsing the calendar of events, whether at District, State, National & International Level of Chess Tournaments, you are likely to find the following events for Boys & Girls:
Under-07/08 Chess Championship
Under-09/10 Chess Championship
Under-11/12 Chess Championship
Under-13/14 Chess Championship
Under-15/16 Chess Championship
Under-17/18 Chess Championship
Under-19/20 Chess Championship
These events are held in classical format and the winner at each level, for each of the category (separate for Boys & Girls) is declared as the District, State, National& World Chess Champion!!

Re-produced below are the calendars for international championship (source:, national championships in India (source:, Maharashtra State Chess Championship (source:  

World Chess Calendar:

National Chess Calendar

State Chess Calendar:

FIDE Rating Tournaments

In addition to the official age-category tournaments, you will find lot of open events right from the school level to open level. The typical names which you are likely to encounter are

Sr No. Popular Chess Tournaments
1 Popular Chess Tournaments
2 Local Prize Money Tournaments
3 FIDE Rating Chess Tournaments

While the tournaments listed in # 1 and 2 are self-explanatory, one of the most sought-after events are the FIDE Rating Chess Tournaments. Before we go into details of this type of event, let us first understand the definition of FIDE Rating:

What is a FIDE Rating in Chess?

(Source: Wikipedia A FIDE chess rating system (popularly known as ‘ELO Rating) is a system used by FIDE in chess to calculate an estimate of the strength of the player, based on his or her performance versus other players.

Invented by ProfessorAprad ELO, the system assigns as numerical value to judge the strength of a player. As per current FIDE Rating regulations, the base rating is 1000 ELO points while there is no upper limit to what one can reach. The highest ranked player in the world today (at the time of writing this article on 13 July, 2015) is the reigning world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen at a whopping 2853: The graph below traces the rating progress of Carlsen from the year he got the initial FIDE rating of 2064 (Year 2001):

How can you child achieve a FIDE Rating?

To become a FIDE rated player a player is required to play in FIDE Rating Chess Tournaments. This type of tournament has the approval of the National Federation and the World Chess Federation.

Here you will find the gist of the eligibility criteria to become a FIDE Rated player (to browse the entire part of this FIDE hand-book, click on the following link): A rating for a player new to the list shall be published only if it meets the following criteria:

  1. For an unrated player’s first performance to count, he must score at least 1/2 point.

  2. It should be based on results of a minimum of 5 games played against rated opponents.

  3. The condition of a minimum of 5 games need not be met in one tournament. Results from other tournaments played within consecutive rating periods totaling not more than 26 months, are pooled to obtain the initial rating.

  4. The rating is at least 1000.

  5. The rating is calculated using all his results as if they were played in one tournament (it is not published until he has played at least 5 games) by using all the rating data available.

Advantages of Obtaining a FIDE Rating:

One may ask as to what’s the big deal in achieving FIDE Rating? It’s just a number! However, achieving a FIDE Rating in itself a big advantage as it provides instant recognition to the player.

Listed below are the advantages of getting a FIDE Rating by my teacher, IM & FST, Sir Jovan Petronic (

Benefits of FIDE Rating (standard chess):

  1. FIDE rating is recognized worldwide as a benchmark of an accomplished chess player.
  2. FIDE rating offers regional, continental and world international ranking.
  3. FIDE rating gives instant recognition among the chess community.
  4. FIDE rating is a basic requirement for FIDE player titles: WCM, CM, WFM, FM, WIM, IM, WGM& GM.
  5. FIDE rating helps with eligibility for chess sport jobs such as a chess trainer, coach, or technical official.
  6. FIDE rating gets concessions in entry fees and accommodation in international tournaments worldwide.
  7. FIDE rating opens possibilities of acquiring sponsorships from corporates.
  8. FIDE rating determines start ranking at FIDE-rated events.
  9. FIDE rating is objective, without specific player, team, regional, or style bias.
  10. FIDE rated events provide an avenue to reactivate inactive chess players’ rating.

The Next Step - after FIDE Rating? -

Once you have obtained FIDE Rating, the next step would be to become a titled player! The first step in the ladder is that of ‘Candidate Master/Women Candidate Master (CM/WCM) while the final step is that of Grandmaster/Women Grandmaster. The chart below shows the ladder with increase in title as you climb up!!

You can view statistics of Grandmasters (Men) in the following chart: Source:

Once a player earns the title of GM, he or she would obviously look to achieve the ultimate title of ‘World Chess Champion’!

Get Going!

Now that you have got enough knowledge it’s time to get moving. Introduce your child to a chess tournament. You can start with a local age category tournament (which are held almost every alternate weekend) or a school tournament. Even a tournament amongst the students of academy where he is learning will also do. You will be surprised to know that a child playing tournament accumulates knowledge much more quickly and above all, it’s fun!! Slowly, you can move up the ladder by making him play Inter-Schools, State Schools Championships and State Championships (both are almost the same) followed by the National & International Championship.

One word of caution . . . please do not pressurize your child if he is not able to get the desired results. It will kill the player in your child. In my training career of more than 2-decades, I have been unfortunate to witness countless talents die an untimely death because of the parent’s need for their children to excel. Remember, that history has seen only 16 world chess champions (Men’s category) in its 125 years. It has produced only 1 Carlsen or Anand or Kasparov amongst millions of chess players. One thing is for sure - If you let him enjoy chess as it comes, he is going to become great in the field he chooses! For chess has that inherent ability to transform an ordinary into an extraordinary!!