Instructions and Tips for Tournament Directors

Workflow and technical details for NWSRS-rated tournaments

Types of Tournaments

Tournament Directors in the Northwest are likely to hold four types of rated tournaments.

  1. NWSRS Rated Only — All sections are NWSRS rated and players are typically all K-12; the NWSRS database does accommodate adult players for mixed-age sections and, parents' sections, etc.
  2. Dual-Rated — In a dual-rated event one or more sections are rated by both the USCF and the NWSRS.
  3. Hybrid — In a hybrid event, some sections are NWSRS rated and some sections are USCF rated. Potentially, some sections could also be dual-rated (see above).
  4. USCF Rated Only — All sections are rated only by the USCF and may have players of all ages. The instructions here generally will not apply.

Download the following files. See the end of this document under "Files and Programs Referenced by Instructions." for a description of the various files, how to get them, and their uses.

  1. SwissSys
  3. .Net Framework

Install SwissSys

Install SwissSys and work through the Tutorial under "Help." In short, preparing for and running a computer-paired tournament involves:

  1. Setting up tournament environment (see below for recommendations)
  2. Setting up the tournament and sections
  3. Registering players in the pairing software with correct IDs and ratings a day or two before the tournament, depending on registration deadline
  4. Backing up tournament files
  5. Adding players who register on tournament day
  6. Assigning byes or withdrawing no-shows
  7. Pairing first and subsequent rounds
  8. Entering results of each round and backing up
  9. Printing cross-table standings after each round and at the end

PRACTICE using the program, and have a backup of all tournament files. Be sure you know how to add late players, withdraw players mid-tournament, swap black and white when players accidentally complete a game with the wrong color and realize it too late, etc. You should also know how to "un-pair" a round by backing up to the previous round — and its impact. Most late-starting and delayed tournaments are the result of unprepared computer operators and/or corrupt data files.

Better yet, find an experienced pairings coordinator to mentor you. Shadowing them at a tournament is a great way to learn tips and tricks. Choose a mentor that is able to focus entirely on the business of pairings and results, while the TD deals with tournament logistics, rules, and so on. A TD who is also running the computer will have little time to answer questions.

Recommended Settings for SwissSys

  1. Under Options:Environment you'll find that the factory settings are generally ok. We recommend you UN-check the "start in locked mode," which has been the cause of some confusion and frustration in the past. Keep the Loss-Draw-Win codes as L, D and W.
  2. Under Setup:Rules for Pairing, you can click on "USCF Defaults" for reasonable settings. Check with the TD and read the "Help" on the Setup:Rules for Pairing dialog for information on Pairing Restrictions. Note that if you want to do pairing restrictions for only part of the tournament, you can turn off the pairing restrictions later in the tournament. You can also set up different settings on a per-section basis (see the menu option under Setup:Current Section Setup)
  3. Under Setup:Tiebreaks and Team Tiebreaks, we recommend you set up three tiebreaks in this order: Solkoff, Cumulative Score, Opposition Cumulative Score (often called just "SCO"). You are free to use any tiebreak methods you choose, but this is the setting we use when generating the post-tournament rating cross-tables for tournaments. So, if you use a different tiebreak method, the rated results might not show the players in the exact same tiebreak order as what you announced at the awards ceremony. For example, if you have different tiebreak settings, the 4th place trophy winner by your tiebreak method might show up as 2nd or 6th on the rated results. Of course, this doesn't affect the ratings, nor does it affect the legitimacy of that player's 4th-place trophy. But it can be confusing for parents and players.
  4. When you print standings, be sure to print "Standings," not the "Wallchart", which also shows results but is not as familiar to most players.
  5. If a single section is very small, consider round-robin pairing rather than Swiss. Note that once the first round results are entered, you can't change the style.

Registering Players for NWSRS Events

Even for very small events, it is best to use the NWSRS Registration program, which uses the latest list of players, their IDs, school codes, ratings, and so on. There is a much lower incidence of data entry errors when you use this program.

  1. If it's been more than a week since you downloaded it, download See details under "Files and Programs Referenced by Instructions" below.
  2. Read the brief help/tutorial in the NWSRS Registration Program, and register players as you receive registrations. As noted in the help/instructions, be sure to SAVE your registration file so you can come back and add more players later.
  3. Make notes in a separate "Tournament Report" document about any new players you've registered and new schools that are not currently in the list of school codes. (The Tournament Report document can be attached to the email when you submit results or the information can just be put in the body of the email.) For new schools, give the full name of the school, city, state, and the school code you chose to use. This information will be required when you submit results for rating. Be aware that we may change the school code later.
  4. A day or two before the tournament, download and unzip the latest version of Go into the NWSRS Registration program and click on Ratings:Get Ratings to load the latest file. Then, update ratings. (See caution/warning in the program's help file.)
  5. When you are done registering players — and after doing the last-minute updates — Export to SwissSys. You will be prompted to name and store a separate .txt file for each section.
  6. Set up a new tournament and sections in SwissSys.
  7. Open one of the sections and then choose File:Club:Read From Club to import the players into the section.
  8. If new players join after you've imported from the club list, add them directly in SwissSys.

On Tournament Day

We recommend you try out the "check-in" and "paid/not paid" features of the NWSRS Registration program if you will have a computer available at the check-in table. See the Help section of the Registration program.

If players update their school code or grade, you can change it directly in the SwissSys file. Be sure you make note of it in your separate "Tournament Report" document regarding new players, schools etc. When the tournament goes through the rating program, it will note any discrepancies in a player's school or grade. The rating coordinator will ignore those discrepancies in favor of the current database information unless the change is explicitly noted in the "Tournament Report." Note, also, that the ratings program ignores whatever rating is entered in the SwissSys file and uses whatever rating is currently in the database. (Manual updates to ratings occur only in the quarterly process in which NWSRS ratings are "synched" with USCF ratings — and only if the USCF rating is established and higher.)

Special Procedure for New NWSRS players with established USCF Ratings

If a player who is new to the NWSRS has an established USCF rating (25 games or more), then they may request to start the NWSRS with that rating. Make a note of this in the "Tournament Report" document. In many instances, the player will come out with a better post-tournament rating using the standard procedure for first-time ratings, instead of "forcing" their USCF rating. If that's the case, the rating coordinator will always go with the higher rating.

Registering Players for Dual-Rated Sections

The NWSRS registration program and changes to SwissSys now better accommodate dual-rated sections. Although the NWSRS is not responsible for accurate USCF data, we make every effort to keep up-to-date USCF IDs and ratings in the NWSRS database as a convenience to our TDs.

When you register players using the NWSRS Registration program and then import them into SwissSys (version 7 and above), any USCF information that we have also imports, using the secondary ID and secondary rating fields in SwissSys.

If you prefer to use USCF ratings for pairings, you can use the Players:Switch ratings/ids feature in SwissSys. Typically, though, you'll leave the primary ID and rating to the default NWSRS data. When you submit results for rating to the NWSRS, make sure the primary ID field is the NWSRS ID. Rating doesn't matter as the rating program cares only about the name and ID fields. (See next section for details on submitting events to NWSRS.)

When you are ready to submit results to the USCF, use the Players:Switch ratings/ids feature to swap NWSRS data for USCF data. Note that you may have to do some manual data entry for some players. Follow USCF instructions for rating submissions.

Submitting for NWSRS Rating After the Tournament

  1. Find the sectionName.S5C or (or sectionName.SRR for round-robin) files and email to the appropriate ratings coordinator — WITHIN FIVE (5) DAYS OF THE TOURNAMENT DATE OR YOU WILL RISK NOT HAVING THE EVENT RATED. For events run in Washington, the coordinator's address is . For events run in Oregon, the coordinator's address is . It is important that we rate in chronological order, so we must adhere strictly to this rule. SwissSys outputs a variety of files, including one for each section, each round of the tournament. For example, suppose you have a tournament with two sections: a five-round novice section and a four-round advanced section. After the final results are entered, you will find a file called "novice.S5C" and another called "advanced.S4C". Those two files are submitted to NWSRS for rating.
  2. With your results files, include the Tournament Report document with notes about any new players and new schools that are not currently in the list of school codes. Give the full name of the school, city, state, and the school code you chose to use. Be aware that the NWSRS coordinator may change the school code from the one you selected.
  3. Rating Fees: The fee for rating a tournament is 12.5 cents per game, with a minimum fee of $5.00. All proceeds for events rated in Oregon are donated to the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation; fees for events in Washington are donated to the Washington High School Chess Assocation. Both organizations are non-profit.

Files and Programs Referenced by Instructions

SwissSys: This is the computer chess pairing program required for NWSRS rating of most tournaments. Although WinTD and Swiss Perfect are also good pairing programs, for the sake of consistency we've chosen SwissSys for Windows as the supported program. This program is available by download or CD at This is a zipped file that contains the latest version of several files that will help you more easily and accurately add players to NWSRS-rated sections. You can download the latest version of this file at the NWSRS web site. When you extract the files in this zip file, it is best to place them all in the same directory, overwriting any previous versions.

NWSRS Registration Program (NWSRSRegV4.exe, downloaded with This program allows you to quickly and accurately register players for various sections of your tournament, automatically including school codes, player IDs and latest ratings. A team version of the registration program is also available. See the ReadMe.txt file included in the file for details.

.NET Framework (dotnetfx.exe, downloaded on the NWSRS site or directly from Microsoft.) You may also already have it installed on your computer; other programs use it. You can check by going to the Control Panel/Add-Remove Programs and look for "Microsoft .NET Framework." The .NET Framework is required for the NWSRS Registration Program to work properly.

School Codes List (allcodes.txt and allcodes.csv, downloaded with This file lists the latest school codes. It is a good reference tool when adding new players to the NWSRS or changing a player's school code. View it in any text editor or from within the NWSRS Registration Program.

Tournament Report This is a simple document where tournament directors note things like new schools not currently in the school codes list, changes to player data, etc. Submit the document with your tournament files, or just include the information in the body of the email.

Latest NWSRS Ratings (rate08-xxx.dat, downloaded with This file contains every NWSRS-registered player, player ID, rating, etc. The name of the file changes with every update. For example, rate08-65.dat is the 65th version of the rating file for the 2007-2008 scholastic year. When registering players for a tournament, you download the latest version and register players. A day or two before the tournament, you can check the web site for a newer file to download (in the example above, it would likely be "rate08-66.dat"). Download and unzip the latest file and use the update feature in the NWSRS Registration program to update your tournament with the latest player information.

sectionName.S5C or sectionName.SRR: SwissSys outputs a variety of files, including one for each section, each round of the tournament. For example, suppose you have a tournament with two sections: a five-round novice section and a four-round advanced section. After the final results are entered, you will find a file called "novice.S5C" and another called "advanced.S4C". Those two files are submitted to NWSRS for rating. (Note that a different set of files are submitted to the USCF. Instructions for submitting results to the USCF are outside of the scope of this document, but details are available at in the TD/Affiliates area. Use of their online submission program requires a brief registration process and is well worth the effort for nearly instant rating of USCF-rated events.)