Ideabase - Swiss System


Swiss Perfect

Swiss Perfect is a piece of software for Windows that helps you to organise and run most competitions. It can cope with several tournament systems including round robins, simple leagues, swiss systems and more. It can cope with a wide variety of rules and scoring methods.

Although intended for chess tournaments it can be used to keep track of other types too, like football leagues. You wont be able to live without it once you have used it in your competitions.

It is available for a free trial download at:

The website and program has good documentation and the program is quite simple to use. However if you are having any problems or need any advice in using it in your Scouting work feel free to contact us.

What is the Swiss System?

In short it is a system where the top players play other top players. i.e. every player plays against opponents of a similar skill level. It has a great advantage in that you can play with a large number of people and decide a winner (fairly) in a limited number of rounds (e.g. if you have 50 players you only really need about 7 or 8 rounds to determine a winner.). It also means that people are playing against other people of a similar skill level and will not be massively outclassed. The use of a tie break method is advised in most circumstances. The most commonly used is the Median Buckholtz (this is the sum of all your opponents scores, ignoring the highest and lowest scoring opponent). If this is high it means you were playing against quality players and so you did better to achieve the score you did than someone with a lower tiebreak score.

Details on the Swiss System and tiebreaks can be found at:

What are the advantages of the Swiss System?

Firstly you can deal with a large number of people in a short amount of time. The mathematical theory behind it says you need something like 1.3 x log2(n) rounds where n is the number of people/teams taking part. For 50 people this works out at 7 or 8 rounds!

Secondly, you play a set number of rounds. You wont need any more or any less than this. This means you can plan your day and your time more effectively.

Thirdly, everyone plays the same number of rounds. If there is an odd number some people may get a bye (miss a game but get a point for it) but otherwise everyone plays the same number of games.

Fourthly, it is a fair system. There is no random element involved in the setup (like when you have to put teams into leagues) and the winner is decided objectively (the score can be checked by anyone and can be kept track of throughout the day and displayed if required)

Fifthly, the tiebreak method allows you to see just who the better player is on the day and to decide between those with similar scores in an easy but fair manner.

Sixthly, it's actually quite simple. I have had Cubs (with help) and Scouts (alone after a few rounds with help) run it themselves. You can do it with a bit of card and a pen for each player and 1 minute of checking after each round.

Nah..I still want to do a Round Robin

Why? They take ages to run and are not fair...

Still interested? Sigh.. ok...

There is a dead easy way to arrange the matches for a league (using the example of a football tournament here).

Say you have n teams. If n is odd then draw an n sided polygon (a shape like a triangle, pentagon etc with all straight sides). Then just label each vertex (corner) with a team. Draw horizontal lines matching the teams up (one team will be on its own and wont be playing this round).

To generate the next round simply rotate the team names round one corner clockwise. Then the horizontal lines tell you who is playing who.

Repeat until you get back to the starting position.


If n is even do the same but make sure the polygon has an ODD number of sides. Then put the last team in the MIDDLE of the polygon and KEEP them there (matching up with the team that would have missed out had n been odd).

Confused still? No worries. There is an excellent description at :

You can also download some ready made shapes which also tell you how many games it will take to finish the league:

League Organisation Sheet