This is something that has been asked in a Facebook group that I am a part of, which appealed to me. A lot of them are anxious since they make a lot of blunders in their games (most of them are beginners).
And I have the answer to this since I’ve been playing for a long time, but I thought I should make a detailed article about it. Just answering the question of how often do people blunder in chess?
As someone who has been playing chess for a long time, here is what I know:
People under the rating of 1000 will usually commit around 8-10 blunders in a single game. People under the rating of 1500 will have 4-7 blunders in their games. Players around the rating of 1500-2000 will commit 1-3 blunders in their game. Above 2000 players can have no blunders.
This is made so you have a reference to how other people are most likely to be performing in their own games. I am confident that in the majority of cases this is pretty accurate.
Overall, this is just a good source of information so I will post on this topic.
People under 1000 elo can commit around 8-10 blunders per game
Players with a rating of below 1000 are likely to commit some 8-10 blunders in a single game, although some blunders will be so terrible that it single-handedly loses the game.
This number may be a surprise to you if you have been playing for a long time (since you may think that there’s no way someone can commit this much blunder in a single game). You are wrong though.
I have friends that are total beginners in chess without any form of study and I have observed them play against each other.
I cannot tell you how often they hand a piece or lose a pawn in a single game (which are all considered blunders) and they made this continuously.
I think that the estimate that people under the elo of 1000 make some 8-10 blunders a game is not too far-fetched as long as they are also playing against other beginners.
The exception of course is they are playing against someone who is far stronger, one blunder is usually enough to end the game giving less opportunity for future blunders.
If an under 1000 elo rated player faces someone stronger, it may only take them 2-3 blunders before completely losing the game. If they are playing with someone of equal strength, I think the 8-10 estimate will apply.
People under 1500 elo can commit around 4-7 blunders per game
People often blunder especially if they are currently on beginner levels, one’s rating is a good measurement in this case. Anyone below 1500 elo is likely to commit some 4-7 blunders in a single game.
This is pretty interesting since some of you may not agree with this, but based on the research that I have done with some of my friends they believe that this is accurate.
I have done preparations for this article since this specific section confused me, however I remembered that blunders are not necessarily hanging pieces, but can also be positional blunders that may not appear incorrect at first glance.
Someone at the level of 1500 elo can make enough of these positional blunders to have 4-7 of them in a single game (as long as they are playing against someone of equal strength).
The exception of playing against a stronger opponent applies on this one as well since the game can also end quickly if their opponent can fully take advantage of even one blunder.
At this level the blunders are usually positional and not necessarily hanging pieces, but people still make a lot of them (4-7 blunders a game is still a lot).
People on 1500-2000 elo can commit around 1-3 blunders per game
People with ratings around 1500-2000 are less likely to blunder but can still make them here and there, games by players of this level will have some 1-3 blunders if you put it in a computer analysis.
At this level, people are strong enough to recognize bad moves and will be good enough to not make a lot of them in most cases. The 1-3 blunders per game is a realistic expectation from my experience.
I belong to this group (at least currently) and I still make some blunders in my games that are accurate to this representation. I can recognize bad moves but still fall victim to subtle positional blunders.
People of this level are less likely to blunder but will still make some every now and then, and maybe even more if the time control is incredibly fast (bullet or blitz).
People above 2000 elo can have no blunders in their games
People above the rating of 2000 are likely to not perform any blunder on their games, it is quite rare to see a blunder on this level but it can still happen.
There might be some 1-3 blunders at this level, but it is so rare to see that it is not the kind of numbers you can expect from someone who is above the 2000 elo. Most of the time there will be no blunder in their games.
At this level, people usually make more mistakes and inaccuracies (not necessarily a blunder) when compared to blunders. Blunders are really horrible moves that can single-handedly close the game if taken advantage of in the right way.
Games that are above 2000 cater more mistakes than anything else, moves that are still considered bad but not necessarily so bad that it will lose the game on the spot.
Blunders are already rare at the games played at this level, people around this level are pretty good in chess.
People above 2500 elo blunder on very rare occasions only
People above the rating of 2500 will likely only commit inconsistencies and mistakes (not necessarily a blunder) in their games. They can still commit a blunder depending on the time control, but it is not expected at this level.
This is even a step beyond being above 2000 elo only, if we are talking about over the board people at this level are already considered grandmasters which is the highest official title in chess.
At this level blunders are super rare although they can still happen, the games are more decided by inconsistencies than anything else (although mistakes play a role too). Blunders on the other hand are almost a non-factor.
Games at this level almost always contain no blunders at all and people will be shocked if there is even one present at the particular game they are watching.
This is because at this level, a blunder will be easily taken advantage of by their opponent who naturally knows how to convert. A single blunder is enough to end games, which is why people at this level work so hard to eliminate them.
People blunders more depending on the time control
The rate of blunder will depend on the time controls that are in question, faster time controls will obviously have more blunders than slower time controls.
I just have to mention here since there is no metric that can really put the number of blunders someone can make indefinitely, this is because time control will play a huge factor in answering this.
We can’t always say that people at this level will only make this amount of blunders since we know that even super grandmasters can make a lot of blunders at a bullet game for example.
Faster time controls are created for players to make a lot of bad moves, that is what makes it interesting actually.
But this is the key factor that really dismisses a lot of things that I have said here, if the time control is too fast then a lot of these numbers may not apply. In normal time controls however these numbers are most of the time accurate.
Higher-rated players, blunders, and time controls
The time format is a key context to this question, even super grandmasters (some 2700+ rated players over the board) can make a lot of blunder if it is in a faster time control like bullet or blitz.
Even computers can make a lot of bad moves if forced to come up with something in a short time format, so please don’t tell me the numbers here are inaccurate because some high-rated player made multiple blunders in one game.
If you have actually seen something like that then I suggest you should look at the time format, it may explain why that is the case.
There is no one ever a number to indicate how often people actually blunder, there are a lot of other factors and the time format is one of them.
The style of the player can make them commit more blunder
The style of the player will also be a factor in this, if someone is aggressive and relies too much on tactics to win their games, then there will be a higher likelihood that they will make more blunders.
If someone plays positionally on the other hand, it is likely that there will be fewer blunders. Even players that are top-tier yet are pretty aggressive in their games are more likely to make a blunder.
This doesn’t mean that having an aggressive play style will make you a lesser player since it has its psychological advantage as well. What I am saying is that if you do have this style, then you will naturally make more blunders.
The numbers above will likely not apply to you since this is another factor to consider, the more aggressive you play the more risk that you take in making more blunders.
Positional players are less likely to make blunders since they play very defensively, making it so that their moves are unlikely to lose the game on the spot (definition of a blunder).
Also, aggressive games are likely to contain more blunders overall than games that are closed and positional.
The medium of play can make people commit more blunder
The medium to which the actual chess is played (whether online or over the board) is also a thing that needs to be considered.
Depending on what the player is used to playing, it will somewhat decide if they are more likely to play accurately with it.
This might be a little bit weird but this definitely applies to me, when I am playing over the board I feel like I am playing in an inferior way to my online self. I am definitely more used to online chess.
It’s just that 3d representation of the pieces is weird to me since I am not used to it, making me somewhat uncomfortable in playing. I am sure that this also applies to some people out there who are mostly playing on a specific medium.
This is not the case for everybody, but this might be one of the factors why people are more likely to commit a blunder in their games even if it should not be within their level.
Making a blunder is something that we definitely don’t want to see in our own games, however, depending on our skill level it is inevitable sometimes. It is actually a good thing if you think about it.
This means that you can be aware of your actual skill level depending on how often you make a blunder, this form of awareness would help you improve by identifying things that you are lacking.
It is a good form of reference that will have a positive impact on your growth depending on how to make use of the information. I hope that I have made you aware of this using this article.
I have a lot of joy writing on this topic since I already know the answer and have something to share on my own end. That is all, sleep well and play chess.