SwissSys 10: Essential for USCF Tournament Directors

The Mark of a Professional

Swiss-Sys
Thad Suits’s software has been a key TD tool for over 30 years. Image: SwissSys.com

I’ve talked in the past about becoming a USCF Tournament Director. At first you’ll be running small club or classroom tournaments, or assisting more experienced TDs at larger events.

If you decide to get into the TD game long-term, you’ll need the tools of the professional: laptop, laser printer, and SwissSys!

 

What Does SwissSys Do?

SwissSys is tournament management software created by Thad Suits that, as the name suggests, helps tournament directors run Swiss-System events smoothly. Often … very large events with multiple sections and hundreds of players! The computer TDs at the World Open, for example, use SwissSys.

Not only can it make pairings, it prints them neatly for posting as well as other items like standings, wallcharts, and so on.

[A brief rant: Experienced TDs hate the term “pairing software,” as it suggests we are not responsible for the pairings the computer spits out. On the contrary, we are responsible for understanding the pairings, being able to explain them, and overriding them if we think an error has been made.]

SwissSys can also handle round robins, such as quads, and team events.

 

Learning Curve?

Very small. The menus are intuitive and if you tinker with SwissSys for half an hour, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s very user-friendly and non-tech-savvy friendly.

The toughest part? Learning the process for downloading and installing new rating supplements. This is important in order to quickly enter players without having to go to the USCF website to look up every player individually.

It’s also possible to import tournament entries from an excel spreadsheet or other database.

You can use SwissSys for FIDE-rated events, too (remember to turn on FIDE pairings, and you cannot alter pairings once made in norm events!).

 

Don’t Go Without

pairing card
Yep, this used to all be done by hand! Image: Kansas Scholastic Chess Association

In the past, way before I began TDing in 2002, directors paired by hand using pairing cards and needed to handwrite pairings, standings, and so on! I can only imagine how time-consuming this would be.

Merely having a laptop, printer, and SwissSys can earn you directing gigs. Many organizers run small, almost-informal events in schools and just need someone to pair and print the charts. These tournaments aren’t always USCF-rated, either.

If you’re efficient, friendly and, most of all, reliable … you’ll keep getting invited back. Also, a good reputation spreads quickly in the TD World.

 

Cost

A new version of SwissSys 10 is $99.00. Best money you’ll ever spend as a TD … but don’t forget that laser printer! I care for my old HP 1020 like a newborn baby, even though it’s now well into adolescence …

You’re not a professional TD until you have your own software. So what are you waiting for?

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.

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