The Golden Snitch

Sherwood, Russell  Monday, January 1, 2018

I’ve been asked a few questions about Tournament Norms and Categories recently, so I thought a quick reminder worthwhile.


To obtain ICCF Titles there are two routes:

  • Awarded for winning a specific event (e.g. the World Cup)
  • Via the accumulation of 24 games at the correct level with the correct performance standard.


For our purposes, we are interested in the 2nd approach. These 24 games need to come from International Title Tournaments, so-called “Norm Events”.  There are a number of criteria to determine if an event is an ITT and a number that could be an ITT are not at the deliberate choice of the organiser. The onus is on the player to be clear if the event they expect to play in is an ITT or not.

So assuming we are looking to play in an ITT we now start to hear the term “Category”, which is confusingly (and often incorrectly) used to refer to two measurements used in the event.

The first of these is the Tournament Category. If you look on an event page if it is an ITT it will refer to (Tournament) Category X. This is simply the average elo of the players involved (excluding some players ratings in certain circumstances). Historically this was then used to calculate the Performance requirements for all players for specific norms (IM, SIM…..). Currently, this is simply used as an indicator of the expected average strength of an event for recruitment (and marketing) purposes.

The second measurement is the Individual Required Performance aka the Individual Norm Requirement. This is calculated by taking the average of the other players in the event (again excluding some in certain circumstances) . This means that different players can have different requirements for the same Title Norm in the same event. This seems unfair but is designed to correct inequalities for players significantly Higher or lower rated than the event average. In general, this means for a few players in the event the Norm might be 0.5 points lower in requirement.

Next time – Which is the right Tournament Category for me?

Updated Monday, January 1, 2018 by Russell Sherwood

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