The Ranking System Explained

By Sue Mackay - Issue 21 (2003)

I have been told that to many club players, who have never reached the dizzy heights of advanced tournaments, the mysteries of the ranking system are hard to unravel. The SWF Top Twenty, which has now appeared in the last four editions of SWAN, is compiled by extracting the first twenty names of players based at SWF clubs from the ranking list compiled at the end of the previous playing season. The list is compiled by Chris Williams and appears on his Croquet Records website at It is based on the Elo system used in chess and it  needs a degree in mathematics to decipher it (for those so inclined see the technical section at

Basically to appear in the rankings a player must have played at least 10 singles games under advanced rules in the preceding 12 month period. Only tournament games are included, but these include inter club tournaments in the UK. Therefore singles games played in the Mary Rose and Advanced Play League qualify for the rankings, whereas games played in internal club advanced tournaments do not.

Obviously some players play far more frequently than others, but as long as a player has at least 10 qualifying games he can maintain his ranking. The number of games played and won is listed, however, so that it is possible to see whether a player is improving or gradually falling down the rankings. The index on the right hand side will be familiar to all players who keep a handicap card (where an index of 2000 equates to a scratch handicap), but the actual position in the ranking list is determined by the ‘grade’ figure in the left hand column. This is because there is a complicated points system in operation designed to give greater weight to certain tournaments, such as the Open Championship, and to balance the results achieved against the standard of the opponent. A 5 handicap playing in his first advanced tournament would obviously gain more ranking points by beating a minus player than by beating another 5, and amongst players of similar standard a win against an ‘in form’ player will net more points. The grade is the ‘smoothing’ of the index, and by and large a player with a higher index than grade is on a good run of form.