The 1946 competition consisted of a preliminary round, with one group of four teams and two groups of three teams each. Each team played the other teams in its group once. The top team in each of the groups of three and the top two teams in the group of four played in the semifinals for the top four rankings; the middle teams in the two groups of three moved directly on to the final round for a 5th/6th place playoff; the bottom team in each group of three and the two bottom teams in the group of four played in semifinals for the 7th–10th ranks.
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.