Earning a rating is as much a matter of luck as skill: By the luck of the draw, an average fencer in a weak pool has a better chance of advancing than a strong fencer in a strong pool--and because of the way the DE's are chosen, the average fencer has a greater chance of fencing one of the weak fencers from his pool in the first, and sometimes the second, DE. This is especially true in E and D&under tournaments Individual matches in pools are relatively meaningless: Of course, the total wins and Indicators determine seed for the DE's. But, for example, if a lower rated fencer beats a higher rated fencer in the pools, that match means no more than a win against a equally or lower rated fencer. Even when a lower rated fencer does well in a tournament, and COULD get a rating, that rating is often denied because of the rules about the number of high ranking fencers that must finish in the top group for all ratings to be awarded. Trying to earn a rating can be extremely frustrating: I know fencers, good fencers, who have been trying for years, yes years, to advance to the next rating. I know a couple that are better fencers than I am (E) but are still unranked. I had some good luck, but they never have. I wonder how many have left the sport because of that frustration. A proposal: The ratings system should be separated from placing in a tournament. 1. Placing in a tournament should result in a trophy. 2. Results from the matches in the tournament should affect the fencer's rating. Chess ratings work exactly this way. So for example, a fencer in his first tournament would receive an arbitrary (low) numeric rating at the beginning. Finishing the tournament, even with no wins, would result in, at least, an E rating. Losing matches lowers the rating, winning matches raises the rating (according to a formula, in chess: http://www.sizes.com/sports/chess_ratings.htm ) Beating a higher ranked fencer would result in a bigger increase. Losing to a lower ranked fencer, a bigger drop. The tournaments would be exactly the same, except every match counts. In chess, the ratings are spread over about 2500 rating points. Chess has the same ratings as fencing, A through E, plus master and grand master ratings. Passing a rating threshold in points gives the player that rating. With numeric ratings, two A's would not be equal unless their numeric rating were equal. And the master and grand master ratings would give A's something to shoot for besides renewing their A's each year. For this to work, the existing rated players could be given numeric ratings near the top of their classification. Comments?