The English Chess Federation (ECF) has a grading system which helps to determine what playing level each player is at. They are important as it is sometimes a requirement to be over a certain grade or more often under a certain grade to be able to play in certain competitions. The ECF has one set of grades for Standardplay (Games for which the time control is 60 minutes or more for each player) and one for Rapidplay (Games where the time control is less than 60 mins per player but more than 10 mins per player). An ECF grade also has a category which indicates how many games were included to calculate the grade and thus how likely the grade is to be accurate. An F category grade can be attained with as few as 5 games whereas an A category grade requires 30 games or more to be played within the last 12 months. Grading lists are published twice a year by the ECF in January and July. In a nutshell, if you win a graded game against another player the amount your grade will go up is dependent on how highly your opponent is graded relative to yourself, so it’s more beneficial to beat a high graded player than a low graded one. There’s more detail about all of this on the ECF Grading website. Also bear in mind that not all competitions are ECF graded so it’s something to check if you’re keen for your games to be officially graded.
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