With the FIDE rating floor dropping to 1000 from a previously lowered 1200, more class players have the possibility of achieving a FIDE rating. Let's look at both the players' side and the organizers side of what is necessary.
Unlike a USCF rating where you play 1 game and then receive a provisional rating, getting a FIDE rating is more complicated, and you require a minimum of 9 games against FIDE rated players to achieve your first FIDE rating. The prevalent way of achieving of rating is playing in a Swiss paired tournament (the normal ones we all play in) but you have to meet certain criteria:
(1) For your first performance rating norm you must have met 3 FIDE rated players and scored 1 point or more (1 win or 2 draws)
(2) After you have achieved this performance rating norm, all games played against FIDE rated players, regardless of result or number of games in a single tournament, will count towards your initial rating.
Currently FIDE ratings are published every other month; however, starting July 1, 2012 FIDE will begin publishing the ratings on a monthly basis. Once you receive your initial rating you'll find that it can fluctuate a lot. This is because your K-factor is set to 30 and remains there until you have had 30 FIDE rated games. Once you hit the 30-mark, your K-factor will change to 15 so your rating will fluctuate less. Your K-factor will remain at 15 until such time as your FIDE rating reaches 2400, and then it settles in at 10 for the rest of your life, even if your rating drops below 2400.
Another way of achieving a FIDE rating is through participation in a 9 round round-robin event. These are much rarer than Swiss events because organizers have to do a lot more work with getting them off the ground. In a 9R-RR, at least 4 players must have established FIDE ratings and the other 6 can be FIDE rating seekers. The non-FIDE rated players must score at least 1 point (1 win or 2 draws) against anyone in the field, either FIDE rated or FIDE unrated. If all of the non-FIDE rated players achieve this, then after the tournament is rated by FIDE, all of the previously non-FIDE rated players will have established FIDE ratings! This is the quickest way of doing it but of course there are risk factors for both players and organizers.
There are requirements for how the tournament is structured though in order for it to be eligible to be FIDE rated. For this information see a future article in this series – "So you want to run a FIDE rated tournament?"
Beginning in 2012, FIDE will also rate Rapid and Blitz tournaments as well, with the first rating list coming out in July 2012. The same concepts will apply except that those that have an established FIDE rating will carry that rating over to Rapid and Blitz as their initial rating, rather than having to earn an entirely new one. Rapid and Blitz tournaments have slightly different playing rules and of course faster time controls.