Types of Tournaments

 

Swiss Tournament

The Swiss is the most common tournament format in the United States.
  An unlimited number of competitors play a specified number of games—no one is eliminated.  Normally, as you continue to win games, you face progressively stronger opposition, leaving those not so successful to play against each other. Toward the end of the event, you will probably find yourself matched against players around your own level. Many tournaments have special prizes for new players and novices.
In Swiss-system events, players are paired with each other according to the following general principles:
1. A player is not paired with any other player more than once.
2. Players with the same score are paired whenever possible.
3. Colors are assigned by the director as fairly as possible. Alternating the colors is the ideal.
  For the first round, the players are ranked according to their last published official USCF rating. The top player in the upper half of the field is then paired against the top player in the lower half of the field, and so on. The top-ranked player’s color in the first round is normally allocated by lot, and then colors alternate down the halves.
Below is an example of how the first round is paired.
    Before being paired. 
Players placed in rating order from Highest to Lowest
After being paired.
The top of the bottom half plays the top of top half, 2nd in the bottom half plays the 2nd in the bottom half
   
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1 vs. 5
2 vs. 6
3 vs. 7
4 vs. 8
  In the second round, the director uses the same principles to pair each of the three score groups (those who won, those who drew, and those who lost). These pairing procedures will continue through the rest of the tournament. In some large tournaments, various “accelerated pairings’’ are used in early rounds.
    If there were no upsets, that is, the higher rated player won the game in round 2, the pairings for the second round (ignoring the alternating of color for players) would look like:
    Before being paired. 
Players placed in rating order from Highest to Lowest within each "score group"
After being paired.
 
   
Players with 1 point     Players with 0 Points
1     5
2     6
3     7
4     8
1 vs. 3   5 vs. 7
2 vs. 4   6 vs. 8
             
             
The examples given above are very simple and do not take into account a number of other rules that must be applied such as
Equalization of Color - Trying to make sure that all players will ultimately get to play the white pieces the same number of times as the black.
Alternation - Trying to make sure that each player gets the opposite color from the previous round
Byes - taking into account byes.
Type of pairing system being used - Generally either Top Down or Look Ahead is used.  These both have special rules associated with them.
Pairing variations being used - Often when their is a large number of players in a section Accelerated Pairings are used.

Round-Robin Tournament

In a round robin, you play one game with every other player in the tournament. One common type of round robin is a quad, in which four players of approximately equal ability are grouped into a section. These three-round tournaments are usually played in a single day.