Does anyone know of a reliable source (e.g. a knowledgeable tutor, academic surveys, GM John Doe's autobiography) that verbally describes the ability and study/training material of a variety of chess players along the FIDE/USCF rating ladder? For example

  • The average X-rated player will see most one- and two-move tactics but is prone to oversight. He may know five or six moves of his "favorite" opening but likely is still gaining experience with what factors make a position "good." He has likely already learned basic endgame mates and KP vs. KP situations, and may go on to learn simple fundamentals like Lucena and Philidor.

  • The average Y-rated player will rarely ever lose material outright to simple threats or tactics. Lately he has been binging on Reassess Your Chess. He probably has a decent store of experience and theoretical knowledge about his opening repertoire. He may find it useful to study more intermediate-advanced endgame tactics like the Vancura position and memorize which pawns win or draw in which positions.

  • The average Z-rated player...

and so on. I know that any rigid attempt at proscribing what material is appropriate for which level player is bound to fail, but I still think ballparks and "on average" statements are useful for growth.

  • Interesting question. Once you get to very high rated players, making a distinction in words might become tricky. Also, how fine-grained do you want this? Dec 21, 2016 at 20:30
  • The more fine-grained the better, I suppose. Though I should specify I don't mean that it necessary fits into a .txt file; diagrams of what which players would play in a given position, which lines they calculate, etc. for example, would be neat.
    – Feryll
    Dec 21, 2016 at 20:34
  • The problem is that everybody is different, a 2000 player can be great at tactics but without a clue as far as positional play goes, but also the other way around. Only grandmasters have to be good at everything. Dec 22, 2016 at 10:27
  • Putting this as a comment since it isn't a "real" answer, but IM John Bartholomew has a YouTube video series where he discusses the common features/problems (and how to fix them!) of various rating levels. (I want to say it's something like Climbing the Ratings Latter or something similar, but I'm at work and can't double-check.)
    – Ghotir
    Dec 22, 2016 at 15:01
  • @Ghotir Thanks, those videos are also exactly something I was looking for!
    – Feryll
    Dec 24, 2016 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


Here's a post I found that seems along the lines of what you're asking for. The descriptions seem more or less accurate to me (probably more for USCF as opposed to FIDE ratings), although the corresponding "years experience" it lists alongside the ratings seem to assume continuous, fairly serious tournament play, as opposed to a casual hobby.

As far as being a "reliable source", I'm not sure who the author is, but s/he appears to be quite prolific on that site, having written over 100 articles.

  • 4
    The years of experience are very misleading. My first published rating was 1462 after half a year of club play at 16 years old, but it took me 20 years to get over 1900. Everybody is different, it all depends on studying the right thing at the right time. Dec 22, 2016 at 10:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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