## What is a quad chess tournament, anyway?

Quad is short for quadrangular, a four-player chess tournament. Each player plays one or more games against the other three players. These are popular for good reason, but let’s get into some details first.

### Sections

If 20 players enter a tournament before the start, the tournament director sorts the players by rating from highest to lowest. The four highest-rated players form Section 1, the next four highest-rated are put into Section 2, etc. If the number of entries is not divisible by four, the lowest section becomes a Swiss.

21 players: four quads, one five-player swiss (try to get an extra, “house,” player)

22 players: four quads, one six-player swiss (this is ideal if you don’t have even sections)

23 players: I would make four quads and have one seven-player swiss. You could make five quads and have a three-player round-robin, but each player would only get two games.

### Pairings

There are two ways you can pair the quad: force the colors for every round, or let the players toss (choose) for color in the third (final) round.

To force colors, give Player 1 white in the first two rounds (as larger round robins are done):

Round 1: Player 1 (white) vs. Player 4 (black); Player 2 (white) vs. Player 3 (black)

Round 2: Player 1 (white) vs. Player 3 (black); Player 4 (white) vs. Player 2 (black)

Round 3: Player 2 (white) vs. Player 1 (black); Player 3 (white) vs. Player 4 (black)

More common in the United States is to let players toss for color in the final round:

Round 1: Player 1 (white) vs. Player 4 (black); Player 2 (white) vs. Player 3 (black)

Round 2: Player 3 (white) vs. Player 1 (black); Player 4 (white) vs. Player 2 (black)

Round 3: Player 1 vs. Player 2 (toss); Player 3 vs. Player 4 (toss)

## Pros and Cons of quad chess tournaments

The biggest advantage of quads is that mismatches are less common. Each group of four players is typically within 100-200 points of each other, making for a competitive event. It’s normal for a player with an 0-2 record to defeat the leader who has won their first two games!

On the other hand, the mismatches that characterize Swiss-system events create opportunities for big upsets — and big rating gains. With four closely-rated players, only a 3-0 score is likely to give you a large rating bounce. And you’ll likely be disappointed in your rating gain with a 2½-½ score.

Something else to consider is that in a quad you need every player to complete all three games. In a Swiss-system event players can withdraw at any time (if they alert the director beforehand).

I enjoy playing quads when I have the chance: every game is a challenge, and it feels good to come out on top among your “peers.”

## Quads are great for teachers and tournament directors

If you have a small club or a kids’ chess class, quads are perhaps the best choice of tournament setup. They’re very easy to run, can accomodate a lot of players, and you don’t need to know how to pair a tournament. If you want to become a tournament director, running quads is a great way to get a feel for directing.

## Author: Andre Harding

Since 2003 I've taught chess to thousands of students in public, private, and charter schools in the New York City area, and have given countless private lessons. I also direct USCF- and FIDE-rated chess tournaments.