grandson and grandfather playing chess

Breaking Down the Levels of Chess: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Different Stages of Chess Skill Development

Advanced, Beginner, General Chess Discussion, Intermediate By Mar 04, 2023 23 Comments

Understanding the different levels of chess skill development is essential for improving your game and achieving your goals as a player. Whether you are just starting out or have been playing for years, by focusing on the fundamentals, studying tactics and strategy, and playing regularly against strong competition, you can take your game to the next level and achieve success in the world of chess.

In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the levels of chess and provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to take your game to the next level.

To play good chess, you need a clear mind, a steady hand, and an understanding of the game’s complexities. But to achieve greatness, you need dedication, perseverance, and a love for the game that surpasses all else.

Garry Kasparov, the former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov

Beginner Level

The beginner level is the starting point for most chess players. At this level, players are learning the basics of the game, including how the pieces move, how to set up the board, and how to checkmate. This level is typically associated with players who have a rating of 1200 or below.

To improve at the beginner level, it is important to practice and study the fundamentals of chess. This can include reading chess books, watching instructional videos, and playing games against other beginners. Focus on understanding the basic principles of chess, such as controlling the center of the board, developing your pieces, and creating a strong position.

Intermediate Level

The intermediate level is where most players spend the majority of their time. At this level, players have a good understanding of the rules and basic strategies of chess and are working to improve their overall game. This level is typically associated with players who have a rating between 1200 and 1800.

To improve at the intermediate level, it is important to focus on both tactics and strategy. This can include practicing common tactical motifs, such as pins, forks, and discovered attacks, as well as studying positional concepts, such as pawn structure and piece coordination. Playing games against stronger players and analyzing your own games can also be beneficial at this level.

Advanced Level

The advanced level is where players start to achieve mastery over the game. At this level, players have a deep understanding of the game and are able to execute complex strategies and tactics. This level is typically associated with players who have a rating between 1800 and 2200.

To improve at the advanced level, it is important to continue studying and practicing both tactics and strategy, as well as developing a strong opening repertoire and endgame knowledge. Analyzing your own games and seeking feedback from stronger players can also be helpful at this level.

Expert Level

The expert level is the highest level of chess skill. At this level, players have achieved mastery of the game and are able to compete at the highest levels of play. This level is typically associated with players who have a rating of 2200 or above.

To reach the expert level, it is important to continue studying and practicing all aspects of the game, as well as playing regularly against strong competition. Building a strong support network of coaches, trainers, and fellow players can also be helpful at this level.

The level of chess is like the ocean; it has its ebbs and flows, but it’s always deep and unpredictable.

Viswanathan Anand, the former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand

How long will it take to be good at chess?

Becoming “good” at chess depends on various factors such as your current level of knowledge, dedication, practice, and natural aptitude for the game. However, here are some general guidelines that might help you understand the time frame required to improve your skills in chess:

  1. Beginners: If you are just starting out, it may take a few weeks or months to learn the rules and basic strategies of chess. You can expect to reach an intermediate level (i.e., around 1200-1800 Elo rating) within 6-12 months with consistent practice.
  2. Intermediate players: If you have a basic understanding of chess and have been playing for some time, it may take anywhere from 1-3 years of dedicated practice to become a strong player. You can expect to reach an advanced level (i.e., around 1800-2200 Elo rating) within this time frame.
  3. Advanced players: If you are already a strong player (i.e., above 1800 Elo rating), it may take several years of intense training and competition to reach a master level (i.e., above 2200 Elo rating). This level of play requires a deep understanding of chess theory, advanced strategies, and a high level of skill and experience.

It’s important to note that the time frame required to become good at chess varies depending on your individual circumstances, such as how much time you have to practice, how quickly you learn, and the quality of your training. Regardless of your starting point, consistent practice, analysis, and review of your games are crucial for improvement.

Chess LevelRatingTime frame to reach the next level
BeginnerBelow 1200 Elo rating6-12 months with consistent practice
IntermediateAbove 1200 Elo rating1-3 years of dedicated practice to become an advance level player
AdvancedAbove 1800 Elo rating3-5 years of intense training to reach a master player level
MasterAbove 2200 Elo ratingMight take 5-10 years to achieve the GM title
GrandmasterAbove 2500 Elo ratingMay take several years or more to achieve the Super GM title
Understanding the Relationship Between Chess Level, Rating, and Time Frame to Reach Your Next Goal

How do I start playing chess seriously?

If you’re interested in playing chess seriously, here are some steps you can take to get started:

  1. Learn the basics: Make sure you have a solid understanding of the rules of the game, how the pieces move, and basic tactics such as forks, pins, and skewers. You can find many resources online or consider taking lessons from a coach or joining a local chess club.
  2. Play regularly: The best way to improve at chess is to play regularly. You can play online, with friends, or join a local chess club to find opponents at your level.
  3. Analyze your games: After each game, take some time to analyze your mistakes and identify areas where you can improve. Consider using chess analysis software or working with a coach to help you with this process.
  4. Study chess theory: Learning chess theory can help you understand the underlying principles and strategies of the game. Consider reading books, watching instructional videos, or taking online courses to improve your understanding.
  5. Participate in tournaments: Participating in tournaments can help you gain experience, test your skills, and meet other players. Look for local tournaments in your area or consider participating in online tournaments.
  6. Set goals: Setting specific goals can help you stay motivated and focused. For example, you might set a goal to reach a certain rating or to win a local tournament.

Remember that improving at chess takes time and dedication, so be patient and consistent in your practice. With the right mindset and approach, you can start playing chess seriously and achieve your goals.

What rating does everyone start with in chess?

In official chess organizations such as FIDE (World Chess Federation) and US Chess, players start with a provisional rating of 1200 if they have no prior rating. This rating is an estimate of the player’s initial strength and is used to determine their pairing and opponents in tournaments.

The provisional rating is based on the player’s performance in their first few rated games, typically their first 25 games. After the player has played enough rated games, their provisional rating will be replaced with an official rating based on their performance.

It’s important to note that not all chess organizations use the same rating system or starting rating. Some organizations may use a different starting rating or may not use a rating system at all. However, the FIDE and US Chess rating systems are widely used and recognized as official ratings in the chess world.

What is a good chess rating for a 15-year-old?

Generally speaking, a 15-year-old chess player with a rating above 1200 Elo can be considered a good player. A “good” chess rating for a 15-year-old depends on various factors, such as the level of competition the player faces, their experience, and their dedication to the game.

However, the average rating for a 15-year-old chess player varies greatly depending on the country and the level of competition they face. For example, in the United States, the average rating for a 15-year-old player is around 1200-1400 Elo, while in countries with a strong chess tradition, such as Russia or China, the average rating may be much higher.

It’s important to note that chess ratings are not absolute measures of skill and that a player’s rating can fluctuate based on their performance in tournaments and competitions. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on improving your skills rather than just chasing a specific rating. Consistent practice, analysis of your games, and learning from your mistakes are essential for long-term improvement in chess.

elderly men playing chess

What is the prime age for chess?

Generally, chess players tend to peak in their late 20s to early 30s, but there are many examples of players who have achieved great success both at a younger and older age.

Some players show remarkable talent and become highly skilled at a young age, while others may take longer to develop their skills and achieve success in their 30s or even later. It is also worth noting that chess is a game that requires a combination of factors, including talent, hard work, dedication, and experience, which can all influence a player’s success at any age.

Ultimately, the prime age for chess may depend on the individual player and their level of skill, as well as their personal circumstances and goals. However, many experts suggest that starting to learn and play chess at a young age can provide an advantage in developing the necessary skills and knowledge to become a strong player later in life.

Is 50 too old to learn chess?

No, 50 is not too old to learn chess. It is never too late to start learning and enjoying the game of chess.

Chess is a game that can be played and enjoyed at any age, and there are many examples of players who have started playing chess later in life and achieved great success. In fact, some studies have suggested that learning and playing chess can be beneficial for cognitive function and may even help to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Like any skill, learning chess requires practice, dedication, and a willingness to learn and improve. So if you are interested in learning chess, don’t let your age hold you back!


Hello, my name is Suresh and I have a strong passion for playing chess as well as writing. I'm interested in all things tech, science, and programming related, and like to play chess. My interest in the game started at a young age, and I have spent countless hours studying and analyzing chess games to improve my own skills. I've written extensively about chess strategy and tactics, with a particular focus on helping beginners and intermediate players improve their understanding of the game. In addition to writing, I also enjoy teaching chess to students of all ages. I believe that chess is a valuable tool for developing critical thinking skills, and I take great satisfaction in seeing my students make progress and improve their game.


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