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I'm curious about a specific scenario in chess rating systems, particularly for a player attending their first rated tournament. Is it possible that for an unrated player, winning a game in their first-rated tournament could actually result in a lower initial rating than if they had not played that game?

I understand that chess ratings are calculated based on the performance of players in rated games, but I'm unclear on how this applies to unrated players entering their first tournaments. Specifically, are there circumstances under which winning a game could negatively impact the initial rating assigned to a new player?

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To gain first FIDE rating you need at least 5 games in 26 months against FIDE rated opponents. Tournaments where you scored 0 aren't counted, and you only get rating if your first rating is at least 1400 (based on rating changes from this year - all FIDE players rated under 2000 are getting rating increase, so 1400 will be new rating floor). Maximum first rating is 2200.

For first rating you take average rating of your opponents and add part from score.

To find such an example as you ask for we can use FIDE initial rating calculator:

1. You played and won against 5 players rated 2000 and 1 player rated 1400:

Your average opponent was 1900, you scored 6 points out of 6 games, so your first rating is 1900+120=2020.

2. You played and won against 5 players rated 2000:

Your average opponent was 2000, you scored 5 points out of 5 games, so your first rating is 2000+100=2100.

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  • The FIDE initial rating calculator have a bug as does not include draws agaist two fake players rated at 1800 as per updated rules as of March 2024. Commented May 29 at 22:08
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(This answer ignores the draw against two fake players with rating of 1800 that was added on March 2024, as the principle is easyer to show without them, see Why do FIDE initial ratings include "two hypothetical opponents rated 1800"?)

Say in 1st tournament you play against 5 rated players with adverage of 1550 and win 1 game.

Then a year later in 2nd tournament you play against 5 rated players with adverage of 1550 and win 2.5 game.

(Assuming you don't play any more rated games)

After 1st tournament your Initial Rating is calculated as 1310, as this is below the rating floor you don't get a published rating, but the data is stored for 26 months.

If only play 2nd tournament or did not win a game in 1st tournament your Initial Rating would be 1550 that is over the rating floor so becomes a published rating.

But the combined rating after 2nd tournament is 1440 that is above the rating floor, so you get a published rating of 1440.

Likewise if the 2nd tournament was more then 26 months after the 1st tournament your published rating would be 1550!

(It seems FIDE wish to "punish" players who play in FIDE tournaments before they are at the required standard.)

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