If you spend a lot of time online playing chess, then you’re probably wondering whether you can get yourself an official ranking for your game. After all, don’t most chess players play online in 2020? But is it easy or practical to get a ranking? And will FIDE, the game’s top body, recognize online play at all in their rankings? Let’s take a look.
Can I get a FIDE rating online? Yes, you can get a FIDE online rating, which is a rating awarded specifically for online play in the FIDE online arena. However, if you want a full FIDE rating then there is only one way to obtain it and that’s to play in a sufficient number of competitions, in person, and win a sufficient number of games under FIDE’s watchful eye.
Here’s what you need to know about ranking systems in chess.
What Is A FIDE Rating And Why Does It Matter?
FIDE is the supreme governing body of international chess. It is known by the French acronym FIDE but is commonly referred to as the “International Chess Federation (ICF)” too. It is based in Switzerland and is the arbiter of international chess competitions as well as a unifying body for the various national chess associations around the world.
It was founded back in 1924 and today, there are 195 member federations that make up FIDE as a whole! That makes it by far the most influential body in the sport of chess and thus, a FIDE ranking is considered to be the most important ranking in chess.
FIDE Ratings: What The Numbers Mean
A FIDE rating is a number between 100 and 2,800. It is calculated based on an algorithmic analysis of your play in FIDE tournaments. The lowest possible rating of 100-200 means that you are considered to be a Class J player, this goes up in increments of 200, to class A which is a rating of between 1800 and 2000.
Then things become more a little more complicated: Experts are rated between 2000 and 2,200, then 2,200 and 2,300 tends to signify a Candidate Master or National Master. At 2,300 to 2,400 you will find the FIDE masters and then Grand Masters and Senior Masters of various types weigh in at 2,400 – 2,600.
At the highest level those scoring over 2,600 in a FIDE rating would be considered contenders for the World Champion’s slot.
FIDE Ratings: The Complex Path Towards Becoming A Chess Grandmaster
However, it’s worth noting that you can’t become a Grandmaster just by getting a high rating. You are also required to obtain “Grandmaster Norms”. These are quite complex, as defined by FIDE’s rules, but in essence, you have to perform very well in tournaments that feature at least 3 other Grandmasters to qualify. As you can imagine, these are not done (currently) online but in person.
Note: The algorithm FIDE uses to calculate rankings is not a secret but it is quite confusing unless you’ve got a good head for algebra but in essence your rank is recalculated after every FIDE competition based on the opponents that you win, lose or draw with. Thus, technically it is possible for an unranked player to gain a very high-ranking quickly by beating high-ranked opposition. Once again, all this is typically for in-person tournaments and competitions and not so much for online chess.
Can I Get A FIDE Rating Online? And Is It Valid?
So, now that we have a firm understanding of FIDE ratings, we can look at our original question of “Can I get a FIDE rating online?” and the answer to that is yes, but only “sort of”.
FIDE will, as long as you become a subscriber to the My Fide Arena (which is relatively cost-effective at just 25 Euro a year in subscription fees), allow online players to qualify for FIDE Online Ratings this is not the same as the standard FIDE rating.
However, the My Fide Arena ratings are meant to be equivalent to the ratings gained offline and, in theory, if you play to a similar standard online – you ought to find that if you joined “real world” FIDE competitions you quickly achieved a similar ranking.
Check it out at arena.myfide.net
My Fide Arena Has Some Nice Features
The My Fide Arena isn’t just a mean for FIDE to extract some extra cash from the legions of online chess players. It is also designed to ensure that players cannot cheat, and it uses full on anti-cheat software for this purpose.
It also provides a means for playing in competition against other players and helps you to quickly find your own ranking.
There is even a Worldchess Online All-Time Champion award, which is (at the time of going to press) held by the Russian player 32-year-old Alexander Mukhin who has played 336 games, won 260 of them (a win rate of 78%), drawn 13 (4%) and lost 62 games (just 19%).
There are some other nice features of the My Fide Arena too including a full game-analysis suite that allows you to rip apart your games and see what went wrong and even to retry certain parts of a game with a computer opponent! Used carefully you will find that this can really help your chess improve.
There is a lobby system for finding regular games too (which do count for your FIDE online rating) that allows you to set time restrictions, choose the type of game that you will play and filter by the rating of your potential opponents – ensuring that you can find players that you will truly learn your craft when you play them.
Official My FIDE Arena Titles For Players
There are also official titles for FIDE Online Arena players that are backed with certification and an 1,100 online ranking gives you the title of Arena Candidate Master, a rating of 1,400 gives you the title of Arena FIDE Master (AFM), 1,700 takes you to Arena International Master and at 2,000 you become an Arena Grandmaster (AGM).
You are required to pay a fee to get the certified title for each of these rankings and you may qualify for more than one title at once, however, you may only use the titles for which you have paid. So, even if your ranking is 2,000, if you’ve only paid for the ACM title – you are an Arena Candidate Master and not a Grandmaster (AGM).
You have to maintain your rating over time before you formally receive the invitation to move up a rank – this is 50 games for Rapid Time Control Chess, 100 games for Blitz Chess and 150 games for Bullet Chess. Once, you have received a FIDE online chess title, however, it cannot be lost or removed from you.
But if you qualify for a title, don’t take it up and then drop below the qualifying ranking for a period of 30 days, you will no longer be eligible for that title until you re-qualify.
Rankings are then formally recorded, in real time, on the FIDE software’s blockchain which is open to inspection by all interested parties.
An End To Gender Separation In Chess
One thing you should be aware of about the FIDE online chess rating system is that it is entirely gender agnostic. Unlike in face-to-face tournaments there is no separation of the sexes and titles are awarded in the same manner for members of either sex.
Can I get a FIDE rating online? Not so long ago, the answer would have been a flat “no” but even FIDE had to eventually recognize the huge impact that playing chess online has had on the game and so, they created a specific online FIDE rating. This is not the same as any of the other ratings FIDE provides but it is broadly equivalent to a standard FIDE rating assuming that you would play to a similar standard in person.
The only way to get a full FIDE ranking, however, is to play, in person, in some of the many FIDE organized events around the globe and to beat or draw against 4 chess players that are already rated at a certain level by FIDE. They will then apply a FIDE algorithm to your games in future competitions to calculate your rating. So, if you want the full rating – you will need to be prepared to compete for it.