I was going to do a tournament recently, and then, I found out just how much $$ SwissSys Tournament software costs...

My question is:

What good alternatives to this expensive mainstream software are there, if any?

  • 3
    Before there were computers, people used to run Swiss System tournaments with 3 x 5 index cards. – bof Oct 19 '16 at 6:49
  • @bof Funny... – cascading-style Oct 19 '16 at 18:14
  • 1
    If you are desperate for one, it shouldn't be too difficult to make one. Other than that refer to the answer(s) below$\vee$ – Ariana Oct 22 '16 at 10:58
  • @ArianaGrande Too much work... Ugh. – cascading-style Oct 27 '16 at 21:13
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The FIDE's software Swiss manager has a free demo version. It contains many options for different types of "tournaments". But you will need a bit of time to learn how to use it. I have already used this program with success.

  • But it's a DEMO – cascading-style Oct 19 '16 at 18:15
  • Yes, it formally is, but I haven't seen any obvious drawbacks. There is no advertisement, or limitation on the duration or on the number of uses. It's good software, according to my personal experience. The choise of the software is often made by the organisers of the tournament. Only if you organise a tournament by your own, you are (of course) free to use whatever software you like. – Alexandre Aksenov Oct 19 '16 at 21:11
  • Why is it called a demo then? – cascading-style Oct 22 '16 at 15:35
  • Being only a national arbiter myself, I have never used Swiss Manager for pairing an official tournament, and I don't know all the differences with the full version. I will try and ask a FIDE arbiter when I have an opportunity. I am discovering one (important) difference at kidschessworld.com/swiss-manager : the Demo version is limited to tournaments with no more, than 60 players. – Alexandre Aksenov Oct 23 '16 at 16:00
  • Try out challonge.com. – Wais Kamal Nov 6 at 13:30

The one I like is Vega - http://www.vegachess.com/tl/index.php. This is free on Linux. The guy who wrote it is an open source supporter who welcomes feedback and is willing to make changes. He is also an active FIDE arbiter. It is also free on Windows for up to 30 players and 50 euros for unlimited use.

There is a review by an English arbiter here - http://chessarbitersassociation.co.uk/Vega.pdf.

  • 1
    @cascading-style If you read my answer all the way to the end you will see that I already answered that. There is a free Linux version. There is a Windows version which is free for up to 30 players. – Brian Towers Oct 19 '16 at 19:11
  • The guy who wrote Vega may be an open source supporter, but I don't see any source code for Vega. Freeware is not synonymous with open source. – Christophe Strobbe Oct 26 '16 at 9:04

The answer to this question depends at least in part on what rating system you want to use when running an event, as well as what your definition of "good" is. It's worth noting that pairing programs require a lot of time, testing and maintenance. So, if you see "good" as synonymous with "cheap" or "free", there probably isn't anything available that will work.

If you're planning a FIDE rated tournament, you can find a list of the approved pairing programs here: https://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/C04Annex3_FEP18.pdf. Of these, Swiss Manager is, IMO, the best bet, not least in part because it offers one-button Web publishing of results and pairings.

if you're planning a US Chess rated tournament (as opposed to the FIDE rating system), your best options for pairings are as follows:

You won't be able to generate the files required for electronic submission of US Chess rating reports without either SwissSys or WinTD. Either pairing program would work well for you.

There is a reasonable argument that arbiters should learn how to pair by hand before jumping in to using a pairing program.

French Chess Federation has developed a nice software named PAPI.

It is free for anybody who has a licence with the French Federation. If you don't, you can ask for a copy via un email to Mr. Erick Mouret (erick.mouret@free.fr).

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