The Evolution of FISM's Grading System

Written by Aldo Ghiurmino

Credits: Pictures provided by Aldo Ghiurmino

Magic competitions across the globe rely on the FISM grading system to fairly evaluate participants.

This system has seen remarkable changes over the years, shaping the way we assess magical performances. Join us as we explore the journey of this system, from its intricate beginnings to the innovative approaches of the new millennium.


The Grading System Until 2000 (Lisbon)
Before the Lisbon Convention in 2000, the FISM grading system was a labyrinth of intricacies. It assigned grades based on the contest category and the specific aspects examined. To demystify the grading system in use until Lisbon (2000):


Showmanship, the art of presenting an act in an engaging and entertaining way, could earn a magician a maximum of 20 or 50 points, depending on the contest category.


Post-performance, judges' scores were tallied and averaged to determine the magician's success. Achieving a Grand Prix required a minimum of 85 points, a 1st place required at least 80 points, while 75 was the threshold for 2nd place, and 70 secured a 3rd place.


From 2003: A New Era of Evaluation
In 2003, the FISM grading system underwent a significant transformation.

Article 7/b of FISM Contest Rules and Procedures introduced a paradigm shift, expanding the aspects to be evaluated from four to six.

Alongside showmanship, technique, and originality, two new dimensions were introduced: entertainment value and the magic atmosphere. This change aimed to offer a holistic evaluation of magical performances, recognizing the significance of captivating audiences and creating a magical ambiance.



July, 2023: A New Approach
On July 21st, 2023, a groundbreaking innovation was unveiled. A new approach for hosting FISM Qualified Contests was introduced, known as FQCS 2.0.

This development equips the global magic community with a powerful tool to organize Qualified Competitions in harmony with the FISM World and Continental Championships.

There is a UNIQUE grading system that the judges will use (see figure below: the 2 colummn on the left side of the form) but the awards in a FISM Qualified Regional Contest will be appointed on the basis of the third column (on thr right). 


The ongoing evolution of the FISM grading system signifies the magic community's commitment to staying current with the ever-changing landscape of magic.

It ensures a fair and comprehensive assessment of magical artistry, reflecting a field that is vibrant, relevant, and always focused on showmanship, technique, originality, entertainment value, and the enchanting magic atmosphere that continues to mesmerize audiences worldwide.


About the Author:

Aldo Ghiurmino joined the Club Magico Italiano (CMI) in Bologna in 1989 and was recognized with the esteemed "Premio Garatti" in 2006 for his outstanding contributions to "Magia Moderna" magazine. In 2014, he was appointed as the historian and archivist of CMI, highlighting his commitment to historical research in magic.

Aldo is a founding member of Masters of Magic and co-authored a booklet on Italian magic history. He hosted a segment on the Web TV of Masters of Magic from 2008 to 2013, receiving recognition for his contributions.

His written work extends beyond articles, with translations and publications of books like "Card Fictions" and "The Art of Switching Decks" in Italian. He's authored lecture notes and two books, including "Fism, the Book" and "Moroso e Dhotel una storia di amicizia e di magia."

Aldo's presence in the magic community is not limited to writing. He's an active participant in major magic conventions in Italy, serving as a translator, lecturer.

As a speaker, he regularly engages in historical magic conventions and contributed to the blog of the Congress in FISMITALY 2015 alongside prominent figures in the magic world.