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Less "radical": see also this question.

Usually, in tournaments rules hold uniformly for each participant. Here are some examples that might violate the rule:

  • A: Those who can't notate (very young players, disabled) may have an assistant. (Usually they get a slight time malus in return. Official rules: E-01-8.1.6 and E-02)
  • B: For very young players, also other measurements may be taken (e.g. playing without clocks), but this usually then holds for everyone (U8 tournaments and such) and thus no violation of the above principle.
  • C: Sometimes in DWZ (German rating system) club tournaments, the weaker player gets compensated with a time bonus, but usually only in "fun" tournaments.

Was there ever a "large" (even FIDE) tournament where "weaker" people got a bonus beyond A and more in the line of C?

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  • Hmm. I can think of situations where the stronger people got bonuses (world championships where the current champion got draw odds or certain people were seeded into the finals or semifinals, or even weaker tournaments where GMs got a first-round full point bye.)
    – D M
    Oct 28, 2022 at 9:27
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    In a sense, all swiss tournaments give some advantage to certain players with certain ratings. E.g., a player who has a rating that puts them right above the middle of the pack for their point group will play one of the lower rated players in said point group. Of course, generally a player won't get this scenario in all of their rounds though. Oct 28, 2022 at 9:50
  • @DM: Didn't think of that. Certainly counts. Oct 28, 2022 at 20:39
  • There have been a few odds tournaments where weaker players actually got to start with a material advantage depending on the rating disparity. Oct 30, 2022 at 15:35

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This is kind of an opposite of an answer, but McMahon system is a modification of the Swiss system where players are awarded starting scores according to their rating: the higher rating, the higher starting score. The logic is that we "pretend" that the first few Swiss rounds have been played, and the higher-rated players were paired with significantly lower-rating players and won their games.

This may sound extremely unfair, and McMahon system is rarely if ever used in chess, but it's quite common in Go. Go has no draws, and the result of a game between two players of different level is much more "deterministic" than in chess. So, it really makes sense to avoid such pairings.

Incidentally, when Morozevich picked up Go, there was some over-excitement about his results as reported on chess websites unfamiliar with McMahon system, such as "he scored 9/9 in a the European Go championships". True, this does not nearly imply he won!

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    This system was used in the Open International de Liffré which ended this week. Higher rated players played those nearer their rating to begin with, rather than the standard initial swiss pairings. It made for an interesting leaderboard to begin with.
    – Owen Rees
    Oct 29, 2022 at 9:04
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    "Accelerated Swiss" is also quite known, and maybe our club will adopt it (to avoid quite uninteresting first round pairings - the rating differences are huge). Oct 29, 2022 at 11:49

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