Not long ago there was a mighty debate about this which seems to be buried somewhere.

The participants may be interested in the following extract from Geurt Gijssen's Arbiter's Notebook for May:

"Question 1 Dear Geurt Gijssen, I have some questions regarding Swiss tournaments. In a ten round FIDE rated Swiss system tournament the following rule was instituted:
A half point bye will be given for any two rounds in a ten round FIDE rated classical chess tournament of two hours duration for each player if the player applies in advance before the commencement of the first round.

Is this rule correct, can a player receive one point without playing two rounds in a FIDE rated tournament? Wonít this disturb the ranking order of the players after the tenth round?

Question 2 Which is the best Swiss pairing software available for a FIDE rated classical chess tournament?

Question 3 The Swiss pairing program SP98 allows the pairings to be changed manually and this could be exploited by an unethical organizer to favor certain players in order to obtain a higher FIDE rating; meaning that one could pair someone against weaker players by manually changing the pairing. Can you suggest a foolproof Swiss pairing program to avoid such a situation? S. K. Talwar (India)

Answer 1 The rule regarding half-point byes is not forbidden. However, these byes are, of course, excluded from the rating calculations. I know of several tournaments in Holland that use the same rule.

Answer 2 It is very difficult to recommend a Swiss pairing program. At the moment there are two Windows-based programs and both have demos available for download:

* The Austrian program Swiss Manager
* The Dutch program Swissmaster

I have worked with both programs and I was very satisfied.

Answer 3 I understand your problem, but all Swiss pairing programs allow for the pairings to be changed manually. In fact, it is a necessity. There are instances in which a pairing may need to be changed for political reasons or if players from the same federation cannot be paired against each other. These are the only reasons to change pairings as far as I know.

It is unethical to change the pairings to benefit certain players and I can assure you that the majority of arbiters donít do it. FIDE has issued a statement that they will not rate a tournament if it is discovered that an arbiter has been cheating in such a way."