Guidelines for directors of rated solving tournaments

Guidelines for directors
of rated solving tournaments

Although the rules for rated solving tournaments are clear and easily accessible at the WFCC website, some tournament directors seem to have difficulties with them. Sometimes the mistakes are small and unimportant, but other times they can be very important. Some examples: incorrect studies although already known as incorrect in the database of Harold van der Heijden; too many solutions in helpmates; points for first moves of orthodox problems other than twomovers and endgame studies, sometimes even for problems with a threat; many local and recently published problems, etc. To ensure that all rated tournaments are run under the same conditions, the WFCC solving committee has produced this text with the most essential guidelines. There are no so far unpublished new rules in this text. These guidelines are also to the benefit of solvers, who can refer to them when they notice an irregularity.

1. Stick to the rules

For starters: take a good look at the latest rules on the WFCC website ( In fact, everything is published there!

2. Announcement

The tournament should be announced and reported to the responsible persons of the WFCC Solving Committee at least two months beforehand but not at all later than 7 days before the day of the tournament takes place. This announcement includes all details: dates, venue, program, name of the director, information about the used fairy problems, etc. If no information about the solving tournament is sent at least a week before the tournament starts, the tournament will not be rated and no solving norms will be possible for solvers.

All information about the criteria for acceptability of tournaments at which ratings can be gained and the criteria for gaining norms and titles are covered in the document “Solvers’ rating” (

3. Preparation work of the director

The director is responsible for the selection of the problems: he can do it himself, or let it done by someone else, or he can work in cooperation with other persons. In any case, he has the final responsibility for the selection. For more details about the selection, see paragraph 6.

The director must decide the distribution of points for every problem. For details, see paragraph 7.

The director must prepare all necessary documents for the solvers: solving sheets, diagrams, solutions, etc.

The use of the Solving Tournament Manager (STM) is highly recommended. In case the director cannot use the STM (no computer, no experience with the software, etc.), he should inform the responsible persons of the WFCC Solving Committee in advance.

In case the director would like to experiment (selection of problems, tournament system, number of problems, etc.) he must inform the spokesman of the WFCC Solving Committee in advance. The solving committee will advise as soon as possible if the suggested experiments are acceptable.

Recommendations for diagrams and solutions:

Diagrams should show the stipulation in a common form (H#2, S#3, +, = etc.), with the number of white and black pieces and they should be numbered with Arabic numbers (e.g. 1-18 for WCSC type tournaments, not A-R).

Solution sheets should be provided with the sources of the problems (examples: composer, publication, year, distinction, dedication, version, “mirror position”, etc.) and at least in one version with Latin letters.

An original problem or study used in a solving tournament is eligible to compete in any composing tournament within the next two years (see article 20 of the “Codex for Chess Composition”).

4. The tournament

The rules of the tournament are well covered in the rules for the World (European) Chess Solving Championship (WCSC/ECSC) in chapters 7 to 14 (

5. After the tournament

All tournament documentation (name of tournament director, diagrams of problems, solutions, complete list with detailed results per problem, possible complaints, etc.) should be sent to the responsible persons of the WFCC Solving Committee within 5 days (10 days for multiple-locations tournaments) after the end of the competition. In addition the solving sheets have to be kept by the tournament director for at least 4 weeks to enable probing possible issues.

The responsible persons will check and publish these documents as soon as possible.

The rating will automatically be calculated by the STM. Also all the information about category, norms, difficulty of problems, etc. will be provided by the STM.

6. Selection of problems

All the problems and studies must be:

  • originals;
  • or published problems at least six years old;
  • or modified published problems (correction, versions, etc.) at least six years old. Mirroring is not recommended as solvers easily recognise them if they know the original problem;
  • not used in previous rated solving tournaments, with the exception of a maximum of two problems which were not used in previous solving tournaments in the last 10 years and not at all in any WCSC, ECSC, ISC or tournaments in the same country. Check the Solving Tournament Database of the STM.

The director must use common sense in his selection and must avoid problems which could be known by the solvers (well-known problems from FIDE-Albums, etc.). A good mix of styles, themes, composers, etc. is advisable.

It is recommended that at least one problem is quite easy to avoid many possibly frustrated solvers with 0 total points; but the majority of problems should not be too easy to enable a good differentiation of the results for the solvers. On the other hand, no problem should be so difficult that chances are very high that no solver can solve it.

All the problems must be computer checked. To ensure correct diagrams, it is recommended that diagrams are copied electronically to the problem sheets to avoid errors by manually transferring them, e.g. by using the FEN of a problem’s database entry to create them or by copying picture files of correct diagrams directly from reliable sources.

For solutions of a single problem not more than 10 variations should be necessary to write.

The director must take care with the selection of studies:

  • Check in the Harold van der Heijden’s database if the study is known to be incorrect; if the director does not have a license to use the database, he must get in contact with the spokesman of the solving committee or ask for help from someone who has a license;
  • Check the study with computer engines;
  • Avoid incomprehensible database lines;
  • The study should have a clear main line without obscure side lines, and should not be too long.


In a WCSC-tournament the maximum for total solutions is 9. In an Open tournament the maximum for total solutions is “number of H# × 3”. For example: in an Open tournament with two helpmates, the maximum for total number of solutions is 6.

In a WCSC tournament there must be a H#2, a H#3 and a longer H#.

Remember: H#1,5 is the same as a H#2; H#2,5 is the same as a H#3, etc.

The director should consider the artistic value of helpmates (examples: thematic link between the phases, avoiding cook-like solutions, etc.)


In a WCSC tournament there must be at least one #4 and at least one moremover longer than #4.


In a WCSC tournament there must be a S#2, a S#3 and a longer S#. It is advisable to use a S#4 instead of a very difficult longer S#.


In this context, fairies are problems which are not studies, orthodox problems, helpmates or selfmates. If the director uses fairy problems he must announce the elements at least two months in advance. Examples: “Reflexmate”, “Circe”, “Andernach”, “Nightrider”, “Shortest proof game”, etc.

7. Distribution of Points

No points for key moves of orthodox problems (except twomovers) and selfmates can be given. Points can only be given to full-length variations and threats of problems. Example: in a #5 only variations and threats till the 4th move before the mating move can get points. It is not possible to give points “halfway” of the solution.

For studies only points for white moves of the main line can be given, no points for black moves and moves of side lines. It is not advisable to give 5 points for 1 move only.

8. WFCC Solving Committee

The solving committee will monitor all rated tournaments closely. If necessary, it will inform the tournament directors about any inconsistencies, mistakes or irregularities. It will also advise how to avoid these problems in the future.

Contact Persons

WFCC has created two email addresses for all matters concerning the solving competitions and the rating.

To directly contact the spokesman of the WFCC Solving Committee use:

To directly contact those responsible for the World Solving Cup, rated tournaments, ratings use:

Version of 8th September, 2023

Guidelines for directors of rated solving tournaments, PDF (updated in October, 2023)

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