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?

  • 6
    Before there were computers, people used to run Swiss System tournaments with 3 x 5 index cards.
    – bof
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 6:49
  • @bof Funny... Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 18:14
  • 2
    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
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 10:58
  • @ArianaGrande Too much work... Ugh. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 21:13

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 1
    But it's a DEMO Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 18:15
  • 1
    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. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 21:11
  • Why is it called a demo then? Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 15:35
  • 1
    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. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 16:00
  • Try out challonge.com.
    – Wais Kamal
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 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.

  • 2
    @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
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 19:11
  • 4
    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.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 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.


Our chess club, Media Chess Club, uses Chess Nut for club management and pairing. It is free and user friendly. The automatic Swiss pairing works as well as SwissSys (which is what we were using before Chess Nut). It also comes with a bunch of additional features that SwissSys does not, like member management and public joinable events (with landing pages and public urls). Its relatively new and they are rapidly enhancing it. They are responsive and take our club's feedback which is nice. Definitely check them out in your search

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You can try my program VinczeSwiss. Freeware! Now (25.12.2022) in 7 languages! ... Websites: http://vincze.euweb.cz OR https://sachy-hb.cz/vinczeswiss_eng/


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 ([email protected]).

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