It was always my understanding that quad tournaments are divided up with an eye toward minimizing rating ranges within the quads. This (hopefully) lets everyone play against people of roughly the same skill level, (again, hopefully) leading to well matched games throughout the whole tournament for everyone playing. This is done by taking the top four highest rated players and putting them into one group, the next four highest rate players into another group, and so forth. I understood that unrated players would be put into the lowest group, although I didn't know what would happen if there were a lot of unrated players. However, I had never played in a quad until fairly recently.

In the quad tournament in which I played, the top four players were put into a single quad. However, the other quads were not clustered together by rating. In looking at the cross tables, I see that there were several quads with 400+ point ranges in rating, even though the distribution across the tournament would have allowed most quads to have ranges of 100 points or less. Admittedly, over 25% of the players were unrated which would have meant multiple quads of unrated players if they had been grouped that way. Instead, there were one or two unrated players per quad (other than the top one).

Is this sort of grouping for a quad tournament allowed? Normal? Abnormal?

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Is this sort of grouping for a quad tournament allowed?

The quad tournament format is not subject to governing body legislation in the same way as Swiss and, to a certain extent, all-play-all. So, yes, it is allowed. That said, it is not normal and goes against the rules you described which are standard.

If such a tournament is supposed to provide qualifiers for some other competition then the normal principle is that for the tournament to be fair the pairing rules have to be announced in advance and should be such that they are reproducible.

It would be interesting to find out what the organisers had as their reasons for deviating from the format for the lower quads.

One acceptable such reason could be if one or more group of players entered from one or more clubs and the players in the same club asked that they not play each other since they don't want to pay money to play people they normally play against in their clubs. This approach is acceptable in lower level tournaments but would be better if this was announced in advance so everybody knows what is going on.

There is an additional point where there are a lot of unrated players. Normally part of the reason unrated players enter tournaments is to get a rating. In that case putting them all in the same quad is going to defeat the purpose so it makes sense to spread them out through the quads.

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    There were several participants who were part of a (school) club, and their leader did ask for the players in the club to be split up so they wouldn't play one another. I believe many of the club's members were unrated - the one in my quad was.
    – GreenMatt
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:53

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