How Much Rating Can You Gain After a Year of Chess?

When I was a kid I didn’t really like chess, it was too complicated for me. Eventually I was introduced to this world and have learned a lot of things, one of the things that I have learned is ratings.

My case is definitely different, since I didn’t have much interest at first, I didn’t get much ratings after my first year (on my online accounts).

However as I started to play more and more my ratings became higher (both online and otb), this made me happy.

In this article I will be answering how many rating points you can get after a year of playing.

This is a sort of self-reflection to how far I have gotten from a year of playing, I think I underperformed.

I will be talking about estimates that I think should be right for most people. With all of that in mind, let’s begin.

Disclaimer: The estimates given below are assuming that you are a complete beginner trying to see how much rating you can have after a year. This does not apply to those who have some previous experience with chess before the day 1 count. 

How much rating can most people have after a year of playing chess?

After a year of playing chess most people would reach a rating of around 1400. This rating line is of course the official fide rating that you can get from playing over the board.

We have to remember that over the board ratings are much harder to acquire than online ratings. A 1400 elo rating in fide is much more valuable than a 1400 rating in

With that said, 1400 is a good rating for someone that is only starting to get into the competitive aspect of chess.

At this level you can probably beat most people who rarely play competitively, I am talking about your neighbors and friends.

Some of you may think that you would have a higher rating other than 1400, which is of course, possible. What I am talking about though is the majority of people, most wouldn’t reach more than 1400 elo after only a year of intermittent playing.

I am also not talking about people who show up in every tournament like there is free food at every stall.

I am talking about the path that most people take, which is that they play competitively but are not too serious about it. If you are serious about chess then you will probably be able to reach 1800 over the board, but this is rare.

You would also need talent in order to have this much progression (also with the help of some chess resources or a coach on the side).

Most people wouldn’t be serious, nor would they have the resources. 1400 elo rating after playing for a year sounds like a good estimate. 

Why are some people stuck under 1200 elo even after a year?

If this is the case then you might notice that some people can’t really get out of 1200 elo even after a year of playing.

Why is this the case?

From my years of playing, I can tell you that it is really just about matters of interest. Most people likes to play a game of chess or two here and there, but they are not really that committed in improvement.

They just want to have fun and maybe play an exciting opening, but they don’t really want to pursue competitive play.

The estimate that I have given is for people that are trying to become competitive, you know, actually playing in tournaments. These people are not that crazy about chess but are still willing to improve.

With the advent of the internet, there are a lot of chess lessons that you can get from youtube.

I suspect that this will raise the overall level of chess players, those that are trying to improve at least. Most people treat chess as a side hobby, which is fine, but don’t expect to improve too much if you don’t really commit.

This is why some people are below 1200 rating even when they have been playing for a year, they are just not willing to put in the work to become better. 

Is it possible to be higher than 1400 elo after year 1?

As I have stated before, it is definitely possible to have a rating of more than 1400 after a year of playing. Probably even around 1800 elo. But this is assuming that you have a lot of resources at your disposal to become better.

You would probably need to read a chess book or two and would have to be able to perform come tournament time.

You also need to invest so much time into training for an entire year, in order for you to have the head start, we need to put in this much work.

Think about Magnus Carlsen, can you guess what kind of rating he has after his first year of playing competitively?

Of course he would have a rating beyond 1400.

In fact, the limited amount of games per tournament is probably  the only thing that is keeping his ratings in check.

However, most people does not have access to these resources nor are they willing to put in the time, it requires a very hard working person.

1400 after a year of playing chess is much more realistic, assuming that you are at least participating competitively.

But yeah, it is not like you can’t go beyond 1400, it’s just that it is not the case most of the time. 

How about 2000? Is it possible to have an elo rating of 2000 after year 1?

Another interesting thought is whether someone can reach the rating of 2000 after only playing chess for a year?

Is it even possible to do something like that?

Of course it is, however you need to participate in so many tournaments in a single year that it is pretty difficult. Not only do you need to win almost every single game and draw minimally, you have to study while all of this is happening.

Oh, and don’t even talk about losing, you cannot afford it. Losing even a single game can put you behind by a lot, you need to get every rating point that you can.

You probably also need a lot of sponsors that can provide money for the travel expenses.

This is because you are likely going around the country (or even internationally) trying to compete in as many chess tournaments being played as possible.

It is not impossible but borderline unrealistic, it is hard but someone can make this come true. If you do manage to do this, then you should continue pursuing chess, you likely have a talent for it.

Anybody that can do this in a year (2000 elo) is likely going to be a grandmaster at least. However I also know that most people aren’t going for this rating in a year, so this might not be applicable. 

Are there ways to improve your rating before year 1 ends?

Yes, there are many things that you can do in order to have a better rating after year 1. However, there is one that I think is the most important.

One of the most important parts of improvement is analyzing your own games. I cannot stress this enough.

A lot of chess players don’t really analyze their games, or if they analyze it they don’t do it seriously enough.

All chess games are not equal so it is fine if you don’t not analyze every single one of your games, but at least you should look at the important ones.

Some of the most important ones are when you have a winning position yet you fail to convert it to a win, that is probably a good game to analyze.

The best chess players in the world know how to exploit any little advantage that they can muster, this is an important skill in chess.

If you have a winning position and you cannot win from those, then there must be something about the position that can reveal your weakness. Another game to analyze is when you lose a perfectly drawn (or winning) endgame.

Endgames positions are the most important positions in chess , this is something that you need to master if you want to have a better rating.

Analyzing games where there is a bad endgame result for your side will give you insights on what to study in endgames. This is my advice to you if you want to be better after year number one, you should analyze your games and learn from them! 

Are there people that have become grandmasters after only a year of playing?

I think that this is an extreme question. There is no way that someone can become a grandmaster after only about a year of playing.

You can argue that somebody can become at a “grandmaster level” only after a year (which is extremely difficult already), but there’s no way that they can actually get the grandmaster title.

Just because you are as strong as a grandmaster does not mean that you will actually get the title, there are qualifications for these things. For one you need to have at least a rating of 2500.

Next, you need to earn several grandmaster norms by defeating actual grandmasters in a tournament, only then can you become a full fledged grandmaster.

This is the reason why there are some unrated players that are about to grandmaster level, yet don’t have the title (or even a rating at all).

In order to reach 2500 elo you must travel around the country (potentially international) in order to get your ratings. Even if you have the strength, considering the logistics and all of that stuff, you probably would not make it.

You can become grandmaster level though unofficially (about 2500 rating), which is something. 


Most people would be about 1400 elo in over the board ratings (fide) after a year of playing chess. This estimate applies to people who want to enter the competitive scene yet is still not too serious about chess.

You can definitely outperform this estimate if you hire a chess coach and have consumed many materials about chess (such as books in courses). I believe that even if you do this, the most you can get is around the rating of 1800 (in a year).

We have also explored if the rating of 2000 and 2500 (grandmaster level) is possible after a year of play, we concluded that it is not possible.

There are too many obstacles. Overall this has been a great question. That is all for this article, thank you for reading.