This year, I started a chess club at my school. It has been a great time seeing kids from north Memphis give up one afternoon per week to play chess at school. In order to make the club a little more competitive, I rated the players according to their wins and losses. I wanted to make this match the United States Chess Federation as closely as possible, so I used a rating program.

ELO Rater, now in version 2.0, was my program of choice. I tried several others, but this was the only one that combined ease of use with simple design. Most chess rating programs are tournament organizing programs, which are quite complex and not well suited to casual club play. This program allows users to enter in-game data in real time and receive ratings adjustments on the spot.

I can’t understate how much of a change this program has made in the club. It allows me to get a quick idea of how well each student is playing, and it allows me to make fair match-ups for casual play. There are still free tournament programs out there that are better for larger tournaments. The program, which runs on Windows and Linux using Wine, can keep track of different groups of people, so you can use one copy of the program to manage different groups of students.

ELO Rater