Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rant - Time to Replace the Swiss System Tournament Pairings?

SwissPairings Recently on the USCF web site there was an editorial Greg on Chess: The Swiss is Terrible. I have to agree with Greg Shahade. Although I have never played an OTB rated tournament using this system I have experienced some of the same problems in ICC tournaments - which also use the Swiss system. Why can't we change this system?

In almost every open chess tournament, one is confronted with the Swiss pairing in which players are paired based on their rating. The field of every score group is split in half and if colors match and players haven't been paired before, the top player in the first half of the field will play the top player in the second half. (So, in a ten player tournament, #1 would play #6, #2 plays #7, and so on.) The pairing method is called "Swiss" because it was first used in 1895 at a chess tournament in Zurich. Since then, it's been commonplace. Because we have been born in a world where the Swiss is the only way, people have simply accepted it and don't seem to realize all the tremendous flaws behind the system. One of my greatest regrets in my chess organizing career is that I used the Swiss System in the New York Masters tournament series that I used to run. It was a perfect chance to be a catalyst for change that went to waste. I would never run a tournament again using this system.

Read the entire editorial here.

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