What Is A Good Chess Rating?

While chess is a board game it is also played competitively and as a result, there is a need for rankings.

The rankings in chess are different from any other ranking system used and so it is often a point of confusion. Chess rankings are referred to as ratings.

What Is A Good Chess Rating

In this guide, we look at what a good chess rating is and each rating, and what type of player would be at that level. 

Chess Ratings Explained

Ratings are used as a way of ranking chess players. A rating is a number that is given to a chess player and this rating indicates how strong a chess player they are. Ratings allow players to match with an opponent who has a similar, or the same rating. 

A physics professor named Arpad Elo invented a chess ranking system that is now named after him. Most other rating systems that have been introduced in the chess world are based on Elo’s work. 

The rating systems may seem a complicated process but once you understand them they are quite straightforward to understand.

The basis of a chess rating system is that ratings are given to players as a result of a game of chess that has been played in a tournament. When players win, their rating gets higher, when they lose, their rating will get lower. 

The number of points that a player’s rating may rise or fall is impacted by the rating of their opponent. If a player was to win against an opponent who had a lower rating than they have, they would only be awarded some points, only slightly raising their rating. 

If a player won against a player who had a much higher rating than they had then their rating would rise substantially.

This process is much the same for the losing opponent, if they lose to a player who has a higher rating they only lose a few points not affecting the player’s rating a huge amount, however, if a player lost to an opponent with a similar rating they would lose quite a number of points, affecting their rating. 

In tournaments, the player’s draw also affects ratings. If players are drawn against an opponent who had a higher rating the player rating would increase and if a player is drawn against an opponent who had a lower rating the player’s rating would decrease ever so slightly.

How Ratings Are Determined

How Ratings Are Determined

For players who are entering a tournament for the first time or need a rating to be given to them, there are certain terms that the United States Chess Federation has put in place to deal with this.

Beginner chess players who have recently learned the rules of chess are often given a minimum rating of 100. Average tournament players receive a rating of 600.

Someone who is a strong player but has not played a tournament but has basic experience will be issued a rating of between 800 to 1000. 

The average rating of most adult tournament players would be around 1400. The top 10% of tournament players in the United States would have a rating higher than 1900. 

The strongest players can also be awarded prestigious titles alongside their rating. The title of Expert would be awarded to players with a rating greater than 2000.

Master would be the title awarded to players with ratings greater than 2200. The Grandmaster title is typically awarded to players with a rating over 2500 whereas the title of International Master is typically awarded to players with a rating over 2400. 

Some of the best players in the world of chess would have a rating greater than 2700, the highest rating that was ever achieved was 2851 and it was reached by a gentleman named Garry Kasparov who was a former World Champion chess player.

How Ratings Are Earned

There are several ways that ratings can be earned but it is typically earned within a tournament environment.

To get a rough idea of what your rating could be many people will play chess through an online chess site, however, these ratings are not always entirely accurate.

Chess clubs also tend to keep informal ratings to help select opponents for games. These ratings would only be used within the club and would not be legal to use in official tournaments. 

To get an official rating it is best to play a sanctioned tournament where ratings are assigned by the FIDE or national chess federation.

Results and ratings are sent to either FIDE or the national chess federation so that player ratings can be updated accordingly. 

What Is A Good Chess Rating

What makes a good chess rating is a personal thing. While of course the best chess rating would be over 2500 and being awarded the Grandmaster title, however for most this is unattainable.

Creating personal goals for ratings is the best way to achieve your own personal best chess rating. This will serve as motivation to continue to learn about chess and compete in official tournaments. 

As tournaments are a social occasion many people look forward to attending certain tournaments every year and aim to see Grandmasters play, catch up with chess friends, and also work on their chess ratings. 

How quickly a person progresses in their chess rating depends entirely on the individual. There are no set time frames that will enable you to get a higher rating, it is all down to a player’s skill and how they play on the day of a tournament.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this piece has given you more clarity on the differences between rankings in the game of chess and also what could be considered a good chess ranking.

Working to improve your ranking is a great motivator to continue to study and practice chess. 

If you have the opportunity to go to watch a chess tournament you can often learn a lot from watching games of chess played by high-ranking players and grandmasters.

This can also give you a visual of what certain rankings look like in action.

Jenna Ostria
Latest posts by Jenna Ostria (see all)