The 1947 competition consisted of a preliminary round, with two groups of four teams and two groups of three teams each. Each team played the other teams in its group once. The top two teams in each of the groups advanced into four-team semifinal groups 1 and 2 and were guaranteed a top-eight finish, with the remaining teams playing in three-team groups 3 and 4 for places 9–14.
Each team again played each other team in its group once. The bottom team in each of the three-team groups played its counterpart for 13th and 14th places. Similarly, middle teams in those groups played each other for 11th and 12th places and top teams played for 9th and 10th. The top eight places were determined in the same fashion, with top teams playing each other for gold and silver, second place teams in each playing for bronze and 4th, and so on.
The middle team of each of the groups of three did not compete in the semifinal round, as they advanced directly to a 5th/6th place playoff in the final round. The top team of each of those groups played one of the top two teams of the group of four, with rankings 1st–4th at stake. Similarly, the bottom team in each group of three played one of the two lower teams in the group of four in a semifinal for 7th–10th places.