Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What are the major differences between the URS™ and the Elo system that is currently used by FIDE?

There are many differences between the URS™ and the FIDE system. The most striking difference is that the URS™ calculates only one rating for each player, informed by their results at all rates of play. This published rating is the URS™ system's assessment of each player's strength at Classical chess (defined as a rate of play where each player has at least 2 hours for their first 60 moves). The URS™ recognizes that there is useful information about a player's over-the-board chess strength in all game results regardless of the time limit, and can therefore more effectively estimate a player's Classical chess strength by also considering their results at games played at faster time controls. As the speed of play increases, the URS™ assigns less and less importance to the game results relative to games played at slower time controls.

Furthermore, the URS™ is a weighted performance rating, calculated across several years of previous game results for all players. Older games are given less importance than more recent games, by applying an exponential decay rate. Unlike traditional performance ratings, which are based upon the opponents' rating at the time the game was played, the URS™ constantly reassesses the strength of all opponents and searches for the most likely set of current ratings for all players, in order to best explain the observed results.

Q2: How are initial URS™ Ratings calculated for new players entering the system?

Every time a URS™ Rating list is calculated, all games within the previous 72 months (6 years) are collected into a single pool for analysis purposes. The ratings of all players are calculated simultaneously, based on an overall weighted performance rating, with greater weight given to more recent game results. The ratings generated are therefore self-consistent and do not depend on any prior rating list.

Q3: How often are URS™ Ratings updated?

Initially, URS™ Ratings will be calculated and published at the start of each month. In time, the process will be automated so that ratings are calculated almost as soon as new tournament results are submitted.

Q4: Can I get a URS™ Rating by only playing Rapid or Blitz Chess?

Yes. There is no requirement that you must play at slower time controls. Any over-the-board game, played at a time control no faster than Game in 5 minutes, is sufficient to give you a URS™ Rating.

Q5: I heard that the URS™ provides one rating for games played at different time controls. What if someone is a good slow player but a poor blitz player?

The URS™ combines information from all games but recognizes that quick games are less indicative of a player’s Classical chess ability than slow games. Quicker games will therefore have less impact upon a player’s Universal Rating than slow games.

Q6: Can anyone get a URS™ Rating? How many games must I play to get a URS™ Rating?

Anyone who plays at least one over-the-board game in a tournament supervised by a qualified arbiter or tournament director will earn a rating on the next URS™ list provided the time control is not faster than Game in 5 minutes. The relevant game results simply need to be submitted to the URS™ for rating purposes by a person authorized to do so.

Q7: What about chess games played online? Are these accounted for?

No. During the initial pilot phase, online games will not be considered. While the model underlying the URS™ can equally be applied to online games, further analysis is required to assess the impact of mixing online game results with those of games played over the board.

Q8: If I don't play any chess for a few months, will my URS™ rating change?

Yes, it can. Every time URS™ ratings are calculated, the URS™ re-assesses the strength of all players within the system. The URS™ Rating for every player in the system is thus recalculated as the available data changes. The system uses a weighted performance rating across recent history and URS™ ratings are therefore likely to change every month, even when a player hasn't played any additional games in the period since their last URS™ rating was calculated.

Q9: What happens to the rating of a player who does not play any chess for more than a year? Will he or she still have the same rating when he resumes playing again?

Players who have not played for more than a year will still have their rating recalculated as new data comes in, but are considered by the system to be Inactive. Inactive players are removed from all published lists on the URS™ website. Once an inactive player resumes playing again, their recent results and their older results will be considered together during the rating calculation. The older games may be significantly downgraded in importance depending on how far in the past they were played, so for a player who had been inactive for several years, their updated rating will depend largely on their recent results.

Q10: How can games be submitted directly to the URS™ so that they can be rated?

For the initial rating list, only over-the-board tournament games that were rated by FIDE within the last 6 years have been accounted for. Moving forward, we will shortly be developing a system whereby registered tournament organizers can submit the results of their events. National federations, academies, clubs, schools, and local organizers that want to use the system to rate any regional events, will be entitled to submit the results. One key criterion is that all participants in an event that is submitted for rating purposes will need to have a URS™ Player Profile and Player Number assigned before the event is rated. A process will be established so that registered users can create the necessary profiles for all new players entering the system for the first time. All games received will be rated provided the data complies with defined standards and formatting requirements, which will be communicated soon.

Q11: Will there be any cost to have an event rated by the URS™?

No. All qualifying games submitted by registered and approved users will be rated free of charge.