How Long Does It Take To Learn Chess?

Chess is a complex game.

Considering all the different moves you can make, there are theoretically 400 possible positions after move 1, over 70,000 positions after move 2, and almost 10 million unique positions after the third move.

These large numbers might scare away beginners. But chess isn’t as difficult to learn as you might think.

Let’s take a look at how long is takes to learn chess and to master it.

Is chess hard to learn?

Chess is not very hard to learn. There are only a handful of rules to learn and most rules are very straightforward as well.

Most people will be able to learn all the rules and start playing their first game within 1 or 2 hours.

Anyone that plays board games for a hobby knows that there are a lot of games that are more difficult to pick up than chess.

Of course, knowing how to play chess and actually being good at chess are two completely different things. But I’ll go over that later.

Can chess be self-taught?

Yes, you can teach yourself how to play chess without any help. There is almost a countless number of books, videos, and articles that will teach you the rule of the game.

I have covered the chess rules and most of the beginner questions on this website as well. So take a look at some different articles on the site if you want to learn more chess.

That being said, it’s always easier to learn something new if you are learning it from someone else in person. Especially because they can point out when you are doing something wrong or forgetting one of the rules.

So if you know anyone that already plays chess, you can learn the rules of the game a little faster by asking for their help.

How do I start learning chess?

There are a few rules that you should know before you play your first chess game.

First, you need to be familiar which what all the pieces are called and how all the pieces move.

Don’t forget to take a look at the special movement rules such as castling and taking en passant.

Once you are familiar with the pieces, you can learn how to set up the chess board for a new game and who gets to make the first move.

Finally, you should also know the difference between a check, checkmate and stalemate.

Now you can play your first game with a friend. If you would like to play at a club or online, also take a look at our articles on playing with a clock and how to write down your moves.

How long does it take to get good at chess?

You can get pretty good at chess within 1 to 2 years of regular practice. But this depends on how much time you dedicate to chess and what you consider to be good.

An average chess player has a rating around 1400 to 1500.

If you play one or two classical chess games a week and spend a few hours on studying chess on a weekly basis, most players will be able to reach a rating of at least 1400 within a few years.

But if you are less serious about chess and simply play a game for fun each week, it might take considerably longer to get good at chess.

How to improve at chess?

As a beginner, simply playing more chess and becoming familiar with the game is a great way to improve. However, after you reach roughly a ~1200 rating, simply playing more won’t help you improve much.

To improve at chess quickly, you need to put in the effort to study the fundamentals of the game.

Beginners will get the most bang for their buck by learning the basic chess tactics such as skewers, pins, and forks. This will help you win many games against lower rated players.

However, to win against intermediate players, you should also focus on the other aspects of the game such as chess strategy, opening theory, and endgame theory.

Analyzing the games that you have played with the help of a chess engine will also help you find the mistakes you made and help you prevent making the same mistakes again.

If all of this sounds overwhelming and you are not sure where to start, you can read my articles on how to win at chess and why you keep losing.

How much time does it take to master chess?

Although anyone can learn and become good at chess, most players will never become a chess grandmaster.

Mastering the game of chess will take years of experience and focused effort.

Currently, the record for youngest chess grandmaster is held by Abhimanyu Mishra, who managed to earn his GM title at just 12 years and 4 months old.

Considering Mishra started playing chess at just 2 years old, you could say it takes at least 10 years of dedication to master the game of chess.

You might think an adult would be able to master the game much faster. Since it’s easier to learn complex ideas as an adult.

But at the same time, most adults don’t have the time to play and study chess for multiple hours every day either.

So if you want to become a chess grandmaster, be ready to invest many years into the pursuit.

What is the best age to start chess?

It is no secret that most grandmasters started playing the game at a very early age. And there aren’t a lot of very strong players that picked up the game in their adulthood.

So the earlier you can start teaching kids chess the better.

While Mishra started playing the game around the age of 2, this is definitely an exceptional case.

Consensus among chess teachers seems to be that most children are ready to learn chess around the age of 7 or 8. But occasionally a very talented child manages to learn the game at a much younger age.

Can anyone get good at chess?

Although only very few people become good enough to obtain the grandmaster title, most people can become pretty good at chess within a few years.

Of course, this takes a lot of time and might be too hard for some. As I mentioned before, playing more and more games quickly gives diminishing returns once you reach an intermediate level.

If you stay motivated to improve at chess, you can probably reach a 1400 rating within a few years. And maybe even reach a 1800 rating after 5 ~ 10 more years.

Of course, 1800 is still far away from the rating you need to become a grandmaster. But with a 1800 rating, you are likely to be one of the strongest players of your local chess club.