How Do Chess Ratings Work?

Whether you dabble in chess or are training to be a world champion, you will have a chess rating.

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This number determines how good you are at the board game and can even decide if you move on to the next level. 

However, not everyone knows how they work and how to work their rating to their advantage. But you are about to learn. 

In this article, we have included everything you need to know about chess ratings. From what they are to what they could mean for you and your ability as a player.

You will know your strengths and weaknesses as a chess player and how to become a shark on the board. 

Let’s get into it! 

What Are Chess Ratings? 

Chess ratings or chess ranking is a numerical system that is used to determine how skilled a chess player is.

From world champions to complete beginners, everyone has a chess rating. 

This rating system ranges from 400 to 2000+. As a player advances their skills and begins to play against more skilled opponents, their rating will either increase or decrease. 

It is important to remember that there is more than one rating system used throughout the world of chess.

FIDE, US Chess Federations, English Chess Federation, and International Correspondence Chess Federation all have their own chess rating systems.

So, you may want to double-check your rating depending on where you are competing. 

There is also the rise of online chess tournaments. Platforms such as and Lichess, have created their chess rating systems that can vary depending on the platform. 

Be careful of your chess rating changing if you play in both physical and online chess tournaments.

You may have a higher chess rating online than you do in physical chess tournaments which can alter the level of opponents you are battling. 

How Do Chess Rating Systems Work?

Understanding how the chess rating system works can be tricky. With so many different calculators and systems, you can really never get a true answer for your chess rating. 

There are two main rating systems used in chess:

The Elo System 

The ELo System is used by the United States Chess Federation, FIDE, and various online chess platforms.

It is one of the first rating systems to be created for chess and it is extremely simple to understand. 

The difference in ratings between two players can be used to forecast how a match will turn out.

It is normal for two players with comparable ratings to have an equal amount of victories when playing one another.

If a player’s rating is 100 points higher than that of their opponent, they should receive 64%; if the difference is 200 points, they should score 76%.

For example, Garry Kasparove, a Russian Chess Grandmaster, will have a 100% chance of winning against a beginner.

While he will only have a 60% chance of winning against another Grandmaster.

If he won more rounds against the Grandmaster, his rating would increase, if he lost more games, his rating would decrease. 

Therefore, to determine a player’s rating after a few games, you figure out the average ratings of his opponents, and how many games he was predicted to win, and then put those numbers into a formula to get the new rating. 

Yes, that is the simple calculator!

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The Glicko System 

The Glicko System is used by the Australian Chess Federation and the majority of online chess platforms.

This is the more modern version of the Elo System as we now have access to calculators and no longer need to work things out on paper. 

The Glicko System is based heavily on the RD (Reliability Deviation). This measures the accuracy of players rating to one standard deviation.

For example, a player with a 1500 rating and an RD of 50 has a playing rating on 1400 and 1600. 

The amount that a player’s rating changes after a game is influenced by their RD; the change is smaller when their RD is low (since their rating is already thought to be accurate) and when their opponent’s RD is high (since the opponent’s true rating is not well known, so little knowledge is being gained).

After a game, the RD itself decreases, but over period of inactivity, it slowly increases.

All of this is calculated with 95% confidence. Meaning there is little room for error when a rating is being calculated. 

When Am I Rated?

Your chess rating will begin as soon as you begin your professional chess career. It is an integral part in your progression and for who gets to excel at the tournament.

A chess rating calculator is used after every game to provide you with your rating. 

So, as soon as you decide you want to go pro, you will begin to see your chess rating and if you are processing or need some more training. 

Take Away 

When entering your professional chess career, you are going to need to know about your chess rating.

And while you trust chess professionals to make the right calculations, you may want to do some maths of your own. 

Both The Elo System and The Glicko Rating systems are still used today but there are various others used all over the world. 

Be sure to understand your strengths in the world of chess and how to progress with a chess rating!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Good Chess Rating?  

A rating between 1500 to 2000 is considered a good rating for those with experience and who are looking to progress in their professional career. 500-1000 is considered a good rating for novice players. 

Who Has The Highest Chess Rating?

Chess Grandmaster, Magnus Carlsen has the highest chess rating of 2882. Garry Kasparov comes in second place with a rating of 2851. Both players are exceptionally talented. 

How Rare Is A 2000 Rating In Chess?

A rating of 2000 is more common than you think. There are approximately 2500 players with a rating of 2000 or more. 

Jenna Ostria
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