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What is a Chess Rating?

The USCF keeps track of all chess players nationwide, their wins and losses, and tabulates them into ratings. Ratings are a numerical value that indicates a player’s strength.  They use a well accepted method based on the Elo System, named after its inventor.

The highest rated players who play for the US Championship are rated between 2500-3000 and even higher, but they are the smallest percentage of players…

Generally what type of player will I see when his rating is…

Novice Sections typically run for anyone below 1000.

  • 100     raw novice, still doesn’t know the rules.
  • 400    typical beginner, still learning moves, but no tactical ability
  • 600    improving, learning not to leave pieces free for the taking, knows a few tactics.
  • 800    becoming a dominant player
  • 1000  you are a dominant novice, you can pretty much play and win novice tournaments. Soon this person will play in the class sections.

chess rating

Class Sections  are the most common tournaments and most chess players will be found here.

  • 1000-1199 Class E  Chess starts to look like real chess, you know most tactics.
  • 1200-1399 Class D  You can see attacks for yourself, but keep missing theirs.  Many Mistakes cost games.
  • 1400-1599 Class C  you stop losing pieces to mistakes, you are picking up on your opponents threats, and strategic errors are becoming more common now.
  • 1600-1799 Class B  You are learning to play many of the key openings, tactics are good, you slow down on mistakes.
  • 1800-1999 Class A  Now you are a dominant class player, you begin to have dreams of attaining a title.

rating system

Above 2000, you are one of the best chess players in the country and your goals are to get stronger and earn a chess title, such as Grandmaster, Master, or even World Champion!

  • 2000-2099 Expert Your tactics and opening knowledge are better than 95% of all chess players nationwide.
  • 2100+ earning titles, you are now in the top 1% of all chess players in the country and your numbers fall into only a few hundred players nation wide.  You now have arrived to the big leagues, you have a great understanding of chess, have an understating of most opening systems.  You start to see many masters and grandmasters on your way to becoming one.

How do Ratings Work?

Ratings are designed so that if you play someone your exact same rating, you should split your games 50/50 with your opponent over time. When the rating is a difference of 200 points, there is about a 80/20 split going to the stronger player. When the rating difference is 400+, the split is 95/5 or more.

Should I worry if I play someone far higher than my own rating?

Never be concerned about playing a much higher rated player!  First, even though the odds are that you will lose, you will not suffer more than a point of lost rating.  Remember, your opponent has something to fear from you, if he loses, he loses a lot of rating points.  Several times I had to play Grandmasters rated 1000 points higher than me, I always play my best and try to learn from these games.  There is no shame in losing at chess.

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