What is a norm factory?

Are they a real issue?

I see random claims about them them but not real data. Have any real data been published in them?

I expect if 7 players are being charged a lot to enter the round robin tournament with the 3 grandmasters, they will be very committed and play as well as possible so make it harder to get the required tournament rating then is often the case. What am I missing?

(Added after answers posted)

I just seen a round Robin offering possibility of GM norms in USA with entry cost of $1500. This excludes the players own hotel costs etc. These entry cost are not unreasonable as 3 none USA GM (and maybe 2 IM) will need to have their travel/hotel costs covered.

(UK is very different as none English GM can be an hour drive away, or norm seeker can easily travel from outside Endland to give required foundation mix. However still have high hotel costs.)

Flying from USA to Hungary combined with entry costs for "1st Saturday" and two weeks of hotel in Hungary will for many people work out significant cheaper. "1st Saturday" can have low running costs as GMs from many countries are a train ride away, combined with much lower hotel costs.

  • It seems that you already know what is called a "norm factory" and that you already have an opinion about that appelation. Can you clarify what it is that you are asking about ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 4 at 11:12
  • I am not assume they are all the same as "1st Saturday" in Budapest. I expect if there are issues it is not with the ones that are openly selling entry to western players. Commented Jun 4 at 12:39
  • Just for fun (for fuzzy values of fun), I googled around a bit to find actual examples. It was sordidly easy: a) A first hand report: reddit.com/r/chess/comments/y8cibo/… b) A fraud caught red-handed: en.chessbase.com/post/fide-clamps-down-on-fake-events Commented Jun 5 at 7:43
  • @Evargalo since "what is a norm factory" is pretty self-explanatory, the actual much more interesting question is if they actually exist.
    – qwr
    Commented Jun 6 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


First off: many people think a "norm" is just a very good result with a high Elo performance. This is not the case. The high Elo performance is indeed a factor, but a lot of other credentials also have to be met (minimum nnumber of titled opponents, minimum number of different countries the opponents have to be from, maximum number of opponents from the same federation, etc., etc.) and "normal" tournaments, like the run-of-the-mill open aren't concerned with meeting these criteria.

So it could, for instance, happen that an aspiring player plays a really really good tournament with a great result - but still gets no norm, because even though he has a performance of 2700 (well above of what is necessary for a GM norm) he had an opponent rated Elo 1800 in the first round, which makes the result ineligible for a norm.

This is where the "norm factories" come in. They are just specially designed tournaments, which guarantee you that - if you play well enough - then all the other criteria for achieving a norm will be met. There are also organisers who concentrate on running such tournaments, like the well-known 1st-Saturday tournament series in Budapest.

Now, my calculation skills in the RL game are extraordinary and hence I already anticipate your question: can't there be misuse? It is a sad but rather ubiquitous principle of life: what can be used will be used - and what is used will be misused as well.

There are organisers who are less concerned with the further developement of chess in particular and the advancement of mankind in general but rather with filling their pockets and making a profit. After all, the capitalistic credo is that the free market will regulate everything - and since there is a lot more free ethics than there is free money, guess which of the two is more valuable.

So, yes, you can find tournaments where you can buy your way to a title. After all, even great chess players are sometimes dirt poor and when you try to eat your rating you will find that its nutritional value is rather small.

Still, that doesn't mean this is common practice and that "norm tournaments" are commonly or even often fraudulous. It is like everywhere: some bad seeds poison the whole harvest.

  • I think this question is looking for actual evidence of norm factories of the unscrupulous kind.
    – qwr
    Commented Jun 6 at 23:05

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