Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations

Chess tournaments have a language all their own.


The organizations that support national and international chess play set tournament rules and rating point distribution.

·       FIDE: Federation Internationale des Echecs (World Chess Federation based in France)

·       USCF: United States Chess Federation (

Tournament Abbreviations and Jargon

·       $$G: Guaranteed prizes. 

·       b/ or $$b/: Based-on prizes; number of entries needed to pay full prize fund. USCF rules specify that, if over $500 is advertised, at least 50% of the advertised prize fund must be guaranteed.

·       Blitz:  Five-minute chess (G/5).  This is not rated by USCF. 

·       BYE:  Players who find it inconvenient to play some rounds may take half point byes (draws without play) in designated rounds instead.  For example, BYE: 1 indicates the bye is available in round 1. 

·       CC: Chess club. 

·       Delay: On a player’s turn, the clock waits for the delay period (often 5 seconds) before starting to subtract from the player’s remaining time. G/45,d5 means Game 45 (45 minutes for each player) with a delay of 5 seconds on each turn.

·       EF: Entry fee. 

·       Ent: Where to mail entries. 

·       G/:  Game Time.  For instance, G/75 means each player has 75 minutes for the entire game.  

·       GPP: Grand Prix Points.  The USCF Grand Prix is a year-long contest, primarily for Masters.  

·       HR:  Hotel rates.  For example, 60-65-70-75 means $60 for a single, $65 for a double, $70 for 3 in room, $75 for 4 in room.  The 3 and 4 to a room rates usually include only 2 beds.

·       Increment or Time Added: In the Fischer Delay (invented by Bobby Fischer), the delay time is actually added to the player’s clock and time can be accumulated and play time increased.

·       Memb req:  Membership required; cost follows.  Usually refers to state affiliate.  

·       NC:  Computers are not allowed to enter.  

·       Norms:  Results needed to qualify for the FIDE titles of International Master or International Grandmaster.  Only tournaments of at least 9 rounds can offer norms, and even with this many rounds, the tournament must also have sufficient international, titled, and FIDE rated players for a player to have a chance for a norm.   

·       NS:  No smoking. 

·       Open Section:  A section open to all.  Often has very strong players, but some who are eligible for lower sections choose to play for the learning experience.  

·       Play up:  To play in a higher section than necessary.  For instance, a player rated 1700 who enters the Under 2000 Section (or Under 2200 Section or Open Section) when an Under 1800 Section is offered is "playing up."  

·       QC: Quick Chess (Game/10 to Game/29).  USCF rates these events with a separate Quick rating system.   

·       Quad:  4-player round robin sections with similar strength players.  

·       Rating Points: A chess rating is an estimate of playing strength based on prior tournament results. Before completing 26 rated games, ratings are provisional. Later, ratings change incrementally based on your game result and the ratings of your opponent. Ratings range from 100 to 3000. You can lose rating points as well as gain them, but you cannot lose your US Chess rating. Once rated, always rated.

·       Rds:  Rounds; scheduled game starting times follow.  For example, Rds Sat 11-2-5:30, Sun 10-4:15 means rounds begin Saturday at 11 am, 2 pm, and 5:30 pm, and on Sunday at 10 am and 4:15 pm.

·       Reg:  Registration at site. 

·       RR:  Round robin (preceded by number of rounds).  

·       Scholastic: Tournaments in which players must be 18 or younger—grades Pre-K through 12th.

·       Scoring: Win=1 point; Tie=1/2 point; Loss=0 points.

·       SD/:  Sudden death time control (time for rest of game follows).  For example, 40/2, SD/1 means each player has 2 hours for the first 40 moves, then 1 hour for the rest of the game.  

·       Section:  A division of a tournament, usually excluding players above a specified rating. Players in a section face only each other, not those in other sections.  

·       SS:  Swiss System pairings (preceded by number of rounds).  

·       Tie Breaks: If at the end of a tournament, 2 or more players have the same score, they are tied. You can’t split a trophy the way you can cash prizes, so tie breaks try to gauge the strength of a player’s competition at the tournament.

·       U:  Under.  For example, U1200 means a rating of Under 1200.  

·       Unr:  Unrated.  Note that players with international ratings or categories are not unrated, and provisionally rated players are not unrated.  Also, you never lose your rating, so if you were rated 40 years ago, you are not unrated.




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