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How to Find a Player’s New Unpublished/Unofficial US Chess Rating after an MCA Scholastic Tournament

Disclaimer: During the first several tournaments in which a player competes, his or her USCF rating might fluctuate wildly—without those fluctuations being entirely accurate reflections of the player’s skill level.  So, please counsel your player to take his or her new USCF rating with a grain of salt, until after his or her approximately 5th tournament.

How to look up a player’s results and new unpublished (“unofficial”) USCF rating in the tournament’s crosstables:

1.  Go to

 2.  Click on “USCF” on the left, not “USCF Sales” on the right.

           3.  In the upper-left-hand corner, click on “Players & Ratings”.

           4.  Click on “Player/Rating Lookup”. 

         [Alternatively, go to] 

5.  Use the following format when typing in her name: “last name, first name”. 

          6.  Click on her name. 

7.  Click on the red folder tab marked “Tnmt Hst” (short for “Tournament History”). 

8.  Under “Event Name” click on the tournament whose results you want to look up.

9.  In most MCA scholastic tournaments, the results for all of the players in all of the sections will be listed immediately.  For a large tournament like the Greater Baltimore Scholastic Chess Championships, however, you might first have to click on the section in which the player competed. 

10.  Locate the player’s name. 

11.  The player’s new unpublished USCF rating is the second number listed below “Reg Rtg Before/After”.  (The first number listed is either the published or unpublished rating the player had the day before the tournament.)

Incidentally, there is a simpler way to view a player’s results and new unpublished USCF rating in the tournament’s crosstables.  Sign up to be notified automatically when the USCF posts the tournament results after the player’s future tournaments:

1.  Go

2.  Click on “USCF” on the left, not “USCF Sales” on the right.

3.  In the upper-left-hand corner, click on “Players & Ratings”.

4.  Click on “Player/Rating Lookup”. 

              [Alternatively, go to] 

5.  Use the following format when typing in her name: “last name, first name”. 

6.  Click on her name. 

7.  At the bottom of the page, after “Want to be notified by email when a tournament you played in has been rated? Update your USCF email preferences”, click on “here”.

              [Alternatively, go to]

8.  Enter the player’s USCF ID # and PIN (located on her copy of Chess Life or Chess Life for Kids).

9.  Click on “Fetch Current Preferences”.

10.  After “Notify me when tournaments I play in are rated”, choose “Yes”.

11.  At the bottom of the page, click on “Update”.

How to interpret the player’s results in the tournament’s crosstables 

A player’s USCF ID #, his current published USCF rating, and his new unpublished USCF rating are listed below his name.  For example: “12452288 / R: 237 -> 284”.  His R rating is his Regular rating for G/30-and-above games.  (His Q rating is his Quick rating for G/29-and-below games.)  The lowest possible USCF rating is 100; the all-time high is 2951, the approximate equivalent of Garry Kasparov’s ELO rating of 2851 in 1999 and 2000.  If the player’s rating is listed as “324P5”, then that means he has a provisional (P) rating of 324, after having completed 5 games.  (A player does not earn an established USCF rating, until after he completes his 26th rated game.)  The next item listed is his total number of points in the tournament.  For example, “1.5” means the player earned 1 point by winning 1 game, ½ a point by drawing (tying) 1 game, and 0 points for losing the remainder of his games.  “L 12” means he lost to the player who finished the tournament ranked 12th in his section, and “W 28” means he won against the player who finished the tournament ranked 28th in his section.

Glossary of Terms for Reading USCF Crosstables

  • D (draw)
  • H (half-point bye)
  • L (loss)
  • W (win)
  • X (win by forfeit)
  • Z (both players receive a half-point bye)

The differences between “published” and “unpublished” ratings, between regular and quick ratings, between rated and unrated players, and between provisional and established ratings

A player's current published (“official”) rating is static within a month and is listed in the USCF’s monthly supplement.  The MCA uses a player’s published rating to determine which section he qualifies for during all MCA tournaments within a month.  For example, you should use the USCF’s January Supplement to decide which section to register your player for at MCA tournaments in January.  (To have a published rating, a player must have played at least 4 USCF-rated Regular games, games that are G/30 or longer.  [Quick games like G/5 Blitz games affect only a player’s Quick Rating, not his Regular Rating.])  A player’s unpublished (“unofficial”) rating is the player’s most recent rating that changes after each tournament in which he competes.  A player’s unpublished rating, then, can change several times during a month, if he competes at more than 1 tournament during that month.  A rated player is one whose rating has been published in a monthly supplement; an unrated player is one whose rating has not yet been published in a monthly supplement (even though he may have competed in tournaments during that month or the previous month).  A player has a provisional ratingduring his first 25 games.  A provisional rating is indicated by a “P” after the player’s rating, listed beneath “Reg” (short for “Regular Rating”).  A player has an established rating after the completion of his 26th rated game.

Whether and (if so) how to share the player’s new unpublished USCF rating with her

A young player can sometimes place too much emphasis on her win-loss record, tournament ranking, and USCF rating.  To encourage the player not to fixate on these numbers, ask her whether she had fun at the tournament, improved her level of play, and learned something that will help her the next time she competes.  Steer her away from the trap of basing too much of her self-esteem on the outcome of her games.  If she is feeling down about her performance, then stress that she earned 1 strong point with her impressive win, so she does not dwell on her 4 losses.  Furthermore, emphasize that she tied for, say, 46th place out of 53 competitors in her section, so she does not dwell on having placed 51st out of 53.  (Incidentally, in tournament standings the USCF lists tied players by their subsequent USCF ratings, rather than by the tournament’s more important tiebreak order—which is determined by how the tied players’ opponents performed in the tournament.  So, perhaps her 51st-place finish was more like a 46th-place finish, after all.)  Finally, players generally do not like to hear this from their parents, but it’s true that losing lays the foundation for future growth and success.  Losing offers a better opportunity to improve than winning ever does, because we learn more from what we do wrong, than from what we do right. 

Speaking of which, if you would like to make a suggestion to, or register a complaint with the Chief Tournament Director, then please contact the MCA Scholastic Director at  The MCA welcomes all constructive criticism.

© 2010 John D. Rockefeller V

                                                                                                    MCA Scholastic Director

                                                                                                  Maryland Chess Association

[last updated: 11/29/2012]