Every chess player is assigned a rating to indicate how good they are at the game, which makes it easier to find players of a similar strength.
If you win a lot, your rating goes up. And if you lose a lot, your rating goes down.
But what is the rating of an average chess player? And when are you considered good at the game?
Let’s look at some different rating numbers and what they tell you about someone as a chess player.
What chess rating do you start at?
There is no fixed chess rating that every beginner has to start at. Your initial rating will be calculated after you have played several games.
You’ll need to play around 10 games to get a good impression of your playing level. Your first rating will be calculated based on your results and the rating of your opponents.
If on average you break even, your initial rating will be roughly the average of all your opponents. If you win a lot of games, your rating will be higher and vice versa.
If you don’t know how strong you are, a more experienced player might play a quick game with you and match you with a appropriate opponents for your first few games
However, people playing online might be assigned a rating right from the start. For example, if you are new to chess.com you’ll start at a chess rating of 1200. But this rating isn’t an accurate representation of your strength, until you have several games underneath your belt.
For a more detailed explanation, you can read my article about how the rating system in chess works.
What is the average chess rating?
Most active club players have a rating between 1500 and 1800, resulting in an average chess rating of roughly 1650. However, in most active chess clubs you can find adult players with ratings varying from 1000 to 2000.
If you take a look at all the rating holders including scholastic members and inactive members, the average chess rating seems to be around 1100.
However, this includes a lot of people that only played a few games and then stopped playing chess. So 1650 is a more accurate approximation of the average chess rating.
You can find some more interesting facts in this forum post.
What is a good chess rating?
Considering that 1650 is the average rating for active chess players, any rating above this can be considered a good rating. Players with a rating above 1800 are strong club players, and anyone with a rating above 2000 is an expert in the game.
However, if you participate in a chess tournament with a rating slightly above 1650, you probably won’t impress that many people with your rating. That’s because normally strong chess players with higher ratings are more likely to sign up for a serious tournament than weaker players.
So in these tournaments, anything above roughly 1800 is considered a good chess rating.
Of course, what you consider to be a good chess rating can be very subjective. And constantly comparing your own rating with other players isn’t going to help either.
Instead, try to increase your chess rating year after year. Even a 50 point increase in rating is a huge achievement. And as long as you keep improving, sooner or later you’ll have a good rating yourself as well.
Chess grandmaster ratings
Any strong player that is serious about chess dreams about earning an internationally recognized FIDE title. There are currently four titles available: candidate master, FIDE master, international master, and grandmaster.
To get a FIDE title, you need to have a rating that is at least above 2000.
However, to become a chess grandmaster, you’ll need a FIDE rating above 2300 and have played in two tournaments with a performance rating above 2600.
You can imagine how difficult it would be to achieve such a high rating. Currently, there are roughly 1700 chess grandmasters globally.
You might have also heard the title “super grandmaster” being used by some to denote players with a rating above 2700.
However, this is not an official FIDE title. You can read my article on super grandmasters in chess for more information.
To make professional chess more accessible for women, FIDE has introduced additional chess titles that only women can qualify for. These titles are easier to obtain, because the rating requirements are lower.
|Woman candidate master||>1800||x|
|Woman FIDE master||>1900||x|
|Woman International master||>2000||>2250|
You can find all the rules and regulations about FIDE title in the official handbook.
Note that your FIDE rating is different from your national rating. The USCF rating can’t be converted into a FIDE rating.
To learn more, read my article on how to get a FIDE rating.
Highest chess rating ever achieved in history
The reigning champion Magnus Carlsen has achieved a chess rating of 2882, which is the highest rating ever in human history.
Magnus also declared his intentions to reach a new personal record by aiming for a chess rating of 2900. However, his current chess rating is slightly lower than his old all-time high.
Some people might argue that Garry Kasparov had an even higher rating when he was still actively playing. Kasparov reached a peak rating of 2851 back in July 1999.
This might seem a little lower than Magnus’ rating, but if your correct Kasparov’s rating for the rating inflation since 1999, his peak rating might be way above Magnus’ current best.
Highest rated chess engine
Although not a single human has ever reached a rating of 3000 or above, there are several chess engines with ratings above 3500. The highest rated chess engine is Stockfish 14 with a rating of 3542.
You can click here for the latest rating list for chess computers.
Although Stockfish might be the highest rated chess engine, that doesn’t mean it’s the strongest engine. AlphaZero was able to convincingly crush Stockfish in a 1000-game match back in 2018.
Unfortunately, AlphaZero is not commercially available and doesn’t have a rating. However, it would probably be even higher than 3542.
Blitz vs rapid vs classical
Chess can be played at lots of different time controls. However, you can roughly categorize them in classical, rapid, and blitz chess.
In classical chess, each player gets at least one hour per game. A game of rapid chess takes anywhere between 10 and 60 per person per game. And blitz chess is any time control below 10 minutes per person.
All three of these are very different and require different skills. Someone that performs bad under pressure might be a great classical chess player, but a terrible blitz player.
That’s why each player gets three different chess ratings; one for classical games, one for rapid games, and one for blitz games.
Therefore, it’s completely possible to have an average chess rating in one of these time controls, and a good/bad rating in the other time controls.