I was just wondering if others have experienced big differences between players Elo and their national rating?

Currently I am playing a tournament outside of my own country. The tournament is Elo rated and expected scores etc are of course then based on Elo. My own Elo is very close my my national rating, around 2050 both of them.

However, in this tournament, a big swiss, I mostly face players around 1600-1700 Elo and they play incredible strong for such a rating.

After the games I ask what their national rating is, and for all of them it's around 2000-2100, which makes more sense. But then the expected scores that are calculated using Elo is hugely in favour of them. It seems the Elo system, is not really accurate in this situation.

Have other people experienced such a huge difference between national and Elo rating? For one opponent the difference was even around 600!

I guess this situation occurs because very few tournaments in this country are Elo rated leading to the two ratings to be wildly out of sync.

Unfortunately, for me this has the effect of pretty much being mathematical doomed to lose a lot of rating in such a tournament.

  • Couple of days ago Wesley So made 2.5:1.5 against 1730 rated guy 😀
    – hoacin
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 4:46
  • Yes, but that was in Rapid chess, not long games. But yes, the situation is similiar
    – zaifrun
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 4:48
  • how else do you expect those poor guys to get their rating adjusted, except playing in rated tournaments and beating weaker opponents?? =))
    – lenik
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 1:14
  • Of course they have to play. The problem is just that the expected score playing against such underrated players are then completely skewed. If I am 2000 Elo and the facing someone with 1300 Elo, but 2000 national rating, then my expected score is close to 1.0, even a draw is a bad result. But the point is since they play with the strength of 2000 then in such tournament you will pretty much be mathematical guranteed to lose rating unless you win all the games.
    – zaifrun
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 4:26
  • avoid tournaments with underrated players. unfortunately the only way for them to get rated at their current playing strength is to beat others and lower the other players ratings. this is a flaw with the rating system because there is not enough interaction between various groups so the group averages are way out of whack. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


As you suspect this can easily happen, if only very few tournaments are Elo rated, and the players are still developing in strength. The problem is often exacerbated by the lower k-factor in Elo, which means that Elo changes more slowly.

Despite not really being an up and coming player anymore, my Elo is still catching up to where it should be according to my national rating and, alas, I expect that to continue for quite some time.


It depends on how many FIDE rated tournaments are in one's area. What I've found is most of my opponents (and me myself) have ELO/FIDE ratings roughly 100-150 points below their national ratings. If an area has enough FIDE-rated tournaments, then ELO is generally regarded as the "true level" of a player. For your case, ELO ratings should be taken with a grain of salt due to the lack of FIDE-rated tournaments.

  • but why are national ratings higher ? Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 16:13

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