Ratings Explained

What is a good rating?

A rating is a number which indicates, based on your past performance, how good you are at chess. The higher the number the better you are.

As at April 2012 the highest rated player in the world was Magnus Carlsen with a rating of 2835. You can see the highest rated players in the world on the FIDE top players list.

The highest rating ever was Garry Kasparov reaching 2849 in July 2000.

The best players in the world have ratings as follows:

World Champion 2800
GrandMaster 2500
International Master 2400
National Master  2300

For juniors in New Zealand the easy way to gauge if you are on track to becoming a Champion is to take your age and multiply by 100.

Eg. Age 9, good target to have a rating in the 900's

Age x 100  = You should be playing in Regional  Championships
Age x 100 (+100) = You will qualify for National Championships
Age x 100 (+200) = You may be selected to play in a World Championships This formula only works for juniors (until age 18).

How does my rating compare with other Ratings; eg FIDE (International) Rating?
The ratings are calculated using the same scale as international ratings. See FIDE ratings.

There are lots of different ratings. Many websites have their own rating system. Some chess clubs or associations have a ratings system. All of them try to maintain their systems as being comparable to the FIDE system. With each system there will be some variation, but good system administrators try to keep this variation from FIDE ratings to a minimum.

The Technical Stuff
The ratings formula used for FIDE can be found in the FIDE handbook.


Can I beat someone with a better rating?

Ratings are simply an indication of past performance. On any day, in any given game, anything can happen!

Statistically speaking your chances of winning a game against a higher rated opponent are as follows:

Your opponent's rating Your chance of winning
50 points higher 43%
100 points higher 36%
200 points higher 24%
400 points higher 8%

How do I get a rating?
Every chess tournament you play will count towards your rating.

Any one event may be an uncharacteristically good or bad day, so your first Official Rating is the average of your performance over your first 20 games (usually about 3 tournaments).

  • After your first tournament you will have an Estimated Rating.
  • After your second tournament this will be a Provisional Rating.
  • After your third tournament you will receive an Official Rating.

Your Official Rating will then increase or decrease based on your performance in each tournament. If you play better than expected (expectation based on how you played in your first 3 events) then you will increase your rating. If you play below expectation, your rating will decrease.

The maximum rating gain/loss from any one game will depend on the seriousness of the tournament:

School Chess Tournament ±5 points
Interschool Chess ±15 points
MC Cup ±20 points
National Event ±30 points

Why do we use ratings?
  • To track your performance over time.
  • This give more accurate pairings in tournaments (ideally you don't want to play against someone too good or too easy for you).
  • To compare your standard against others in your school, city, country or around the world. See our Rating Search for your ranking.
  • To make a prediction about the result of a game or tournament.