On this website, the following ratings are given:

  • 1200-1399 = 'D' player - usually a beginner
  • 1400-1599 = 'C' player - average club or tournament player, most people can achieve this level if they work at it
  • 1600-1799 = 'B' player - consistently above average
  • 1800-1999 = 'A' player - strong club player, takes the game far too seriously!, has lots of opening knowledge
  • 2000-2199 = 'Expert' - extremely strong, consistent player with the possibility of achieving Master rating, may have real talent.
  • 2200-2399 = 'Master' - strongest amateur rank, hasn't quite got the hang of things yet but maybe on day he/she will wake up.

International professional players have two ranks:

  • 2400-2499 = 'International Master' - weakest professional rank; strong, experienced international player, eats Masters for breakfast
  • 2500+ = 'Grandmaster' - eats IMs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a star in the firmament of Caissa, a chess genius who thinks nothing of playing 20 and 30 board simuls against Experts and Masters and is disappointed if he/she doesn't win every game, capable of playing 10-20 blindfold games at the same time, and winning, etc. etc, in short, an all around bricks and mortar, brass bound b*st*rd of a player, but they do lose on occasion, sometimes to players with a much lower rating and computers are better than that these days.

Note that these ratings are for "USCF". When I see these kinds of "levels" of player on this site, is this the common and correct definition of what they refer too? If not, what is the correct definition?

  • The Grandmaster and International Master sections are wrong (but you probably knew that already).
    – limits
    Dec 4, 2015 at 0:36
  • Who cares about USCF anyway?
    – David
    Apr 12, 2019 at 11:24

3 Answers 3


The definitions you post are more of less correct though some levity has been inserted. The descriptions for the under-2400 ratings are consistent with the USCF.

IM and GM titles are not awarded by the USCF. They are awarded by FIDE and are based not upon rating but on achieving certain results at recognized tournaments. That is, if one scores well enough at a FIDE tournament (based upon the competition), one earns an IM or GM "norm". When one earns three norms, one is awarded the title.

  • 1
    The IM and GM titles also have minimum rating requirements, but acquiring the norms is usually the gating factor.
    – dfan
    Dec 3, 2015 at 19:20
  • 2
    Why the downvote, I wonder...
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 6, 2015 at 16:13
  • 7
    I just read some of the FIDE rules. I need an aspirin.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 6, 2015 at 16:17

The ratings for the class players are correct for the USCF - 1200-1399 is indeed the definition of class D, master is 2200+, etc. (IM and GM are international titles not based on USCF ratings, so they aren't directly comparable.)

But I'm not so sure about the descriptions, especially at the upper and lower ends. It doesn't match my perceptions.

For example, it says that a class D player is "usually a beginner". Perhaps it seems that way to someone rated very high. But that leaves no gap at all between "beginner" and the class C "most people can achieve this level if they work at it".

Based on a quick search of the USCF website, someone rated 1300 - smack in the middle of class D - is in the 75th percentile of USCF rated tournament players. I suppose you could claim that 3/4 of tournament players are beginners, but I think that would involve a rather strange definition of "beginner". There has to be something for "people who have played the game for years but haven't realized their full potential", and I think that's actually where many class D players fall.

On the high end, it's rather silly to say that an IM would eat a master for breakfast, or that a GM would eat an IM for breakfast lunch and dinner. An IM beating a GM isn't all that notable - it's an upset, but far from shocking. If a 2380 non-IM master played 12 2500 GMs, he'd be expected to score about 4 points. And ratings naturally fluctuate within about 100 points anyway. I would say that at about a ratings difference of about 400 - about two classes - the stronger side would dominate to the point where you could talk about them eating the weaker side for breakfast. 100 or even 200 points isn't really enough for that.


As noted they are in 200 point brackets which is about the amount where the higher player usually beats the lower. They look like USCF except for the nonsense about IMs and GMs but omits the really lower classes that go down much farther. Also the comments appear to be yours as they are not accurate.

I know 800 rated players. I thought I saw that they went as low as 100 for an absolute beginner.

USCF used to have their own titles above master such as SM = senior master and perhaps another but usually that level player has moved on to FIDE tournaments and would have a FIDE title and FIDE rating.

At one time the tournament average for all players was 1500. That changed with rating inflation in the 60s & 70s perhaps later. They have made at least one adjustment to try to keep the average where it had been.

These days with all the learning materials and web sites actual playing strength of a current 1500 player would be closer to 1800 in the 50s. But would still be class C average in tournaments.

Note that most online ratings are way much higher than USCF would say for the same player. And that online ratings would associate more closely to the 1950s values than what current players would achieve.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.