How Many Games Does it Take to Become Good at Chess? 

Getting good at chess is an uphill battle. Not only is the field getting more competitive, it seems that the game itself is becoming more complicated.

With the existence of new engine lines and theories, more knowledge is being added to the game every year.

This may leave beginners hopeless, they would have to accept the fact that they will never be good at chess.

I think that this might not be true, maybe you just haven’t put in the number of games necessary in order to improve.

In this article I would discuss how many games you really need to play in order to become strong in chess.

This will be a good guideline for those that are still in the “beginner” stages. You would really get to know what you are really getting into.

With all of that in mind, let’s get started. 

Are 100 games enough to be good in chess?

I would say no, 100 games is not enough to be a good chess player. You might think that this is ridiculous, 100 games is a lot of games for someone to not improve.

Here’s the thing, most of the above average chess players you can meet have put in more than 100 games throughout their life.

If you think about it, it is not only about the number of games, it is also about the quality. If you are still a beginner in chess, your first 50 games are likely to be full of blunders and mistakes.

These kinds of games do not really offer much insight for a player to improve. Blunders that involve hanging a piece in competitive chess is unacceptable, something that a lot of beginners do.

I don’t think that you can improve by playing these kinds of games. Now, if you are an intermediate player and you play 100 games, you will definitely improve since you will have the ability to analyze.

However if you start from scratch and you barely know how the pieces move, playing 100 games can only get you so far. As I have also observed with beginners, they rarely analyze their games.

Analyzing your chess games is important since it will provide feedback on how you would want to improve in the future.

This is why I think that only playing 100 games is not enough to be a good chess player for a beginner, they probably need more games in order to really improve. 

At what amount of games would you see significant improvement?

I’d say that you would start to see significant improvement after 200 games. 200 games is a lot, at this stage you will have chess games that are better in quality.

Your games will have lesser mistakes and blunders overall, this means that you can actually learn something from them.

As a beginner, it is almost impossible to be good after only 100 games (unless you’re being coached or are reading a chess book).

However after 200 games, you will become a stronger player, someone that can extract valuable insight from any given position.

If you think about it, it is like playing another hundred games, but this time you would do it as a slightly stronger player.

This means that this time, you will have the ability to analyze your mistakes and learn from them, you will have a better approach in your games.

You are likely to see a dramatic increase in rating at this stage, however I don’t think that I can classify you as a good chess player yet. What I mean by a good chess player is someone that is above average, that is what I mean by “good”.

At this stage if you don’t have a lot of games yet to be truly strong.

Unless you are being coached by a stronger player at this stage, you are likely to be the average player level.

It will get exciting though since you would see a noticeable difference in strength at this stage. 

At what amount of games will you become better than the average chess player?

You will become better than the average chess player after 350 games. This seems a lot but some of the games will be blitz or bullet games anyway.

If you play classical in most of your games then you can expect to be good at 250 games.

Classical contains the “true essence” of chess, it favors calculation and deep thinking more than anything else. If you play more classical games than faster games, your improvement will be significantly faster.

However, games today are mostly played over the internet, in these platforms faster time controls are the most popular.

Adding that caveat to mind, you will be good at chess at around 350 games, this is assuming that you also analyze your games and solve some puzzles on the side.

You may think that this is a lot, but what I mean by “good” is someone that is beyond average.

For most people, you cannot be above average if you don’t even hit this mark. Sometimes we underestimate the word average, it is literally the next most populous level in chess next to the beginner level.

Most people are going to be average, most people will not play 350 games (including blitz and bullet).

In my personal case, I have to play this much in order to be good, that is also the case for most people.

Unless you have the talent or have some coaches, you would probably also have to play this much before getting good. 

Do you have to play 1000 chess games in order to reach 2000 elo?

What about reaching 2000 elo?

How many games would you need to play in order to reach this level?

The thing is, 2000 elo is way beyond the level of an average chess player. I am talking about the official fide ratings of course, the one that you can get from playing in over the board tournaments.

In fide ratings, 2000 elo can make you a borderline titled player. Only a little more push and you can have an official title in chess.

What I mean is that this level is significantly higher than the average chess player, a comparison is sometimes unjust.

In order to reach this level you would need to play around 650 games, in some cases even more. This is of course assuming that he would have the time to complete the 2000 elo rating.

Acquiring chess ratings over the board is much more difficult compared to online, it is not only decided by skill but also by time and opportunities.

At around 650 games most people would have the ability to reach 2000 elo over the board, if you are a slow learner then you might need a little more.

This only applies in over the board ratings though, online ratings on the other hand, are different. Online ratings are much more inflated than over the board ratings, basically they are easier to acquire.

At around 250-300 games you can probably reach 2000 in lichess as long as you play consistently.

If you are a chess.com user, then you would have to play around 400 games (since chess.com ratings are much harder to acquire).

Over the board though 650 games sounds about right  this is roughly the amount of games you need to play to reach 2000 elo. 

How many games do you need to play in order to become a grandmaster?

In order to become a grandmaster in chess you would have to play about 1200 games, potentially even more.

Grandmasters in chess have a minimum rating of 2500 elo, they also need several GM norms in order to qualify for the grandmaster title.

You may think that adding 550 games to 650 games (2000 elo) is unreasonable, after all you are only short of 500 rating points.

But here’s the thing, as you become stronger and chess the amount of improvement that you can have becomes smaller. It is easier to get from the beginner level to intermediate levels than to reach grandmasters levels from 2000 elo.

These 1200 games will of course be a combination of blitz, rapid, and classical chess, which is why it is that much.

Take note that we have even skipped the levels of an international master, something that you need to get to before going for the grandmaster title.

You have to be able to play this amount of games if you want the grandmaster title, it is the highest title in chess after all.

The number of games that you will need to reach this level can of course be minimized by the help of chess coaches and several chess books.

However these estimates are for regular individuals who would only consume a reasonable amount of books and courses (and without a coach).

If you want to do it this way, expect for you to play a lot of games in order to become a grandmaster, it is that hard.

After playing this amount of games, you would have enough skills to keep up with the competition. Sometimes it can be a little bit higher or lower depending on some factors, but for the most part, I think this is accurate. 

Is chess all about the number of games you’ve played?

By reading this article, I do not want you to have the impression that chess is all about the number of games that you play.

Of course it is more than that, the estimates stated here are within the expectation that you would also do other things.

When you are trying to reach the 2000 elo mark, of course you will have learned some openings in the process. At this time you would also have to analyze some of your games to gather some insights.

On the other hand, if you’ve played 1200 games trying to be a grandmaster, you would of course at least read a chess book or two.

Do you see the pattern?

It is not only about how many games you have played, but it’s also about the other things that you have done in order to become better.

The estimate is with the expectation that you would at least study reasonably on the side.

You can play 1200 games and still be below the 2000 elo rating mark if you have never done any complementary studies.

So chess is not just all about the number of games, it is also about the other things that you do to fully master it. 

Conclusion

If you want to be a good chess player then you would probably need more than 100 games, I would say that you need 350.

In this stage you would know a lot about openings, middlegames, and endgames, enough to be better than your average chess player.

You would have also developed your intuition and can see the decent-looking moves in any given position, a quite strong player. Your first significant improvement would probably come after 200 games, this is a huge improvement but not enough to make good at chess.

You would probably reach the 2000 elo rating point at around 650 games, so long as you improve naturally.

Just remember that all of the estimates here are with the assumption that you would also study rather than just playing.

Chess is not only about the number of games you play, there are also other things that are important like analysis and learning.

That is all for this article, thank you for reading. 

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