About Chess Ratings

  • spassky
  • | Jun 11, 2009

About Chess Ratings

 by Bruce Till  

 The United States Chess Federation (USCF) has instituted a rating system for chess players which allows them to know their relative strength among other rated players, as well as facilitating the pairing of players in tournaments.  The table below describes the ratings and titles:

Here are the titles/ratings in order of prestige (Grandmaster is the highest):

International Titles

Current regulations are at FIDE handbook.

  • Grandmaster (GM)
    title awarded by FIDE for GM norms
  • International Master (IM)
    title awarded by FIDE for IM norms
  • FIDE Master (FM)
    minimum FIDE rating of 2300 after 24 games
  • National Senior Master (SM)
    e.g., USCF Senior Master--USCF 2400+
  • National Master (Master or NM)
    e.g., USCF Master--USCF 2200+
  • National Expert or Candidate Master (E or CM)
    e.g., USCF Expert--USCF 2000+

National US Amateur Classes

  • National Class A (USCF 1800- 1999)
    top amateur class
  • National Class B (USCF 1600-1799)
    above average tournament player
  • National Class C (USCF 1400-1599)
    average tournament player
  • National Class D (USCF 1200-1399)
    a strong social player
  • National Class E (USCF 1000-1199)
    social/scholastic players
  • National Class F (USCF 800-999)
    novice/scholastic players
  • National Class G (USCF 600-799)
    beginner II/scholastic players
  • National Class H (USCF 400-599)
    beginner I/scholastic players
  • National Class I (USCF 200-399)
    early beginner/scholastic players
  • National Class J (USCF 100-199)
    minimum rating

(Thanks to Jamie Duif Calvin at http://www.jaderiver.com/chess/ratings.html )

A table comparing BCF (British Chess Federation), ELO (international rating system named after inventor Arpad Elo), USCF, and the category system used in former Soviet bloc countries is given below:


LEVELBCF gradesELOUSCF classEastern European category
{D} Minor BCF 75-100 ELO 1625-1750 Class D or C category 4
{C} Intermediate BCF 100-125 ELO 1750-1875 Class C or B category 3
{B} Major BCF 125-150 ELO 1875-2000 Class B or A category 2
{A} County BCF 150-175 ELO 2000-2125 Class A or Expert category 1
Top county players BCF 175-200 ELO 2125-2250 Expert or NM Candidate Master
    ELO 2200-2300 US NM or SM National Master
    ELO 2300-2400 US SM (USCF 2400+) National Master
International Master BCF 220-240 ELO 2360-2520    
Grandmaster BCF 240-250 ELO 2520-2600    
Super-GM BCF 250-270 ELO 2600-2700+    

Thanks to Dr. Dave at http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/bcftable.html 

Remember, though, that an average tournament player is much better than most chess players in the world, and would probably be the best at their local cafe or even in a school club. A starting rating of 900 or 1100 shows that you're a good solid player at a nontournament level, and you're ready to start learning the intricacies of The Royal Game.  

Visit the Maryland Chess Association website, http://mdchess.com/ .


  • 20 months ago


    i want the title how i get 

  • 2 years ago


    Missed world Champion but every know what that is.Otherwise this is perfect.

  • 4 years ago


    That's a great comparison table, thanks much!

  • 5 years ago


    great info, just what I was looking for!

  • 6 years ago


    you missed world master

  • 6 years ago


    This was exactly the information I was looking for in exactly the format I was looking for it in. Thanks.

  • 6 years ago


    Thanks for this article. It has some useful information.  it definitely answers some questions about ratings.

  • 6 years ago


    I think the most cost effective way to learn chess is through youtube chess games. Really detailed analysis. I agree there is lack of analysis but it is better than a book anyday!

  • 7 years ago


    The wise man finds 'value' in any information/situation he encounters. There is no need to critize anyone on this forum. We all are here to 'learn', none of us is without fault or imperfection. I am new to chess.com, but in my short space of time, I have learnt a lot...and soaking it up...

    ...the game is much bigger than any of us....

  • 7 years ago


    To chesmaster102:

    A social player is someone who plays his friends or co-workers, but doesn't play in tournaments.  In other words, someone who is strong relative to the general public, but somewhat weaker relative to serious chessplayers.  By the way, as long as we're talking about ratings, the turn-based ratings on chess.com, in my estimation, are inflated by about 300 points (at least) over USCF over-the-board ratings.  That is, a 1600 chess.com rating is probably equivalent to a 1300 USCF rating, maybe less.  I'm basing that on many online games that I have played over and comparing the quality to the listed chess.com rating.  I think a lot of it has to do with people playing many games at once and winning games after 2 or 3 moves because the opponent didn't make his move on time or forgot or lost interest or whatever.  That doesn't happen over-the-board.

    Thanks for the question!

  • 7 years ago


    What does it mean to be a social player.

  • 7 years ago


    thnxx dude

  • 7 years ago


    Yes, Thanks indeed!

  • 7 years ago


    To BZnupe06:

    Don't worry.  PavelKosic and I buried the hatchet a long time ago.  We're friends now.  It was just kind of a cultural misunderstanding.  It's all good now.

  • 7 years ago


    G-Wizzzzz!!! You two are arguing like two old women. I just joined this site a couple of days ago. I am a beginner in Chess and don't even recognize all of these names for strategies that you all use here. However, I love competition and I think in a short while, I will be great at chess. Why don't the two of you just play against each other a couple of times and see who wins? Its the only way to settle that. I'm a 2-time National champion in USA (Youth 2002) Track and Field. I love the sport because once you walk off the track and smash your opponents, there is nothing else they can say. There is no debate on who is better. So when are you two gonna go head to head......???

  • 7 years ago


    To PavleKosic again:

    Thank you for your comments.  You seem to be angry with me for some reason, yet I don't even know you.  But I'll address some of your points, since you took the time to make them (even though you said you don't have the time to point out mistakes in my games which you already found when you spent time looking at some of them).  You say only weak players leave positive comments, but they don't understand what I am talking about.  So your negative comments are the truth, but all of the positive comments I get are from idiots?  Then you say my advice to players is "hardly psychological advice".  I looked at your comments to some of your games (almost all against weaker players, except for the 1730 from Finland to whom you handed a draw by perpetual check when you were a whole piece ahead and could have forced a draw at any time) and your advice seems to be "move fast to scare your opponent", play fast time controls (10 min/game), and "rise to the challenge" after making blunders by playing too fast (when you are done "smashing your fist into the wall"). Hardly sounds like expert psychological advice from someone who "studies psychology in chess very closely".

    You go on to say that you "could bring someone who is a beginner to class B in less that a year".  Have you done that?  And what makes you think I haven't?  If GM's are charging less than I am, they are selling themselves short.  Besides, does every beginner in golf need to be coached by Tiger Woods?  Can't they get any valuable advice from a local player?  If a beginner is playing 1. e4 e5 2.f3, you think that player needs a GM to get "a much better perspective" and tell him why 2. f3 is a bad move?

    Also, you must have noticed in my comments to my games, that I often give entire plans that I felt my opponent should be playing, rather than single moves, or comments such as "forced", "normal move", "developing his rook", as are the frequent comments to your games. 

    Overall, your comments strike me as someone who thinks a restaurant charges too much for steak and they should be closed by the government because McDonald's hamburgers are cheaper and just as good.  Let the customers decide that.  No one is tying them to their chairs and grabbing their wallets.  If the restaurant food is too expensive and/or inferior, customers will stop coming.  If chess players don't think I give enough value for what I charge, they will stop coming to me and go to you or your inexpensive GM friends.

  • 7 years ago


    To Bruce Till again.

    I do not have time or patience to leave comments on all of your games. Also you should notice that weak players will only leave comments like "This was a great article, I learned a lot, I never thought this way....." but in fact they do not realy understand what you were talking about. You are saying about psichology of the chess???? I study psichology in chess very closely and I think its very important, but advice like "do not make blunders, watch for traps, or be present in the moment are hardly psichological advice". "Learn from your mistakes", I think that anyone who cares for the game will watch his game after the lost game and look where he goes wrong. Its not cinical that you are charging your services its cinical that you charge your services more than lot of GM-s. I am not a chess coach but still I could bring someone who is a beginer to class B player for a less then a year. 

    And finaly....yes you won those games, but if you coach someone you must be able to show him the best moves, becouse simply, someone stronger then your oponent would respond to your atacks. Chess is not only tactics, I understand thet, but I realy think, that all those people who give money to you could give money to some good GM and that they will get much better prospective for the game, and even I know some GM-s that charge less then you.

    You can be angry for everything I said, but this is constructive critic, and if you want to get only slaping on your shoulders then you should not post articles on this site!

  • 7 years ago


    To: PavleKosic

    I went to my blog where I have my games posted and noticed that you left no comments.  Perhaps you could return there and point out where "in many occassions [I] missed the best moves".   Be that as it may, you may also have noted that on my site I do not claim to be a GM and make zero mistakes.  Also note that my coaching philosophy is to emphasize a positive mindset during games.  I have gotten many positive comments about my articles posted on chess.com, so I guess somebody is getting some benefit from it. 

    You will also notice that I won all of the games you refer to, many of which were against strong players (one was even rated 2509 OTB).  None of the "second best" moves to which you refer were blunders.  Perhaps I didn't miss anything, but rather chose a different winning continuation.  In any case, my "mistakes" did not cost me the game.  I congratulate you on being able to find so many better moves so easily. 

    Also, you may have noticed that my site is geared towards players rated 1600 and below.  Typically these players are losing games either by oversights and blunders (1000-1200 rated) or by having trouble discerning what parts of the position are important at any given moment and being able to formulate a plan to exploit it (1300-1600).  I believe that I can help (and have helped) players in these areas.  These players are not losing by missing best moves and playing good moves.  They are missing the idea of whole parts of the game and need to be shown how their thinking process was faulty in choosing a move.

    I don't think it is "cynical" to charge a fee to help players improve.  I have been rated high-A to Expert OTB for 30 years, so I must be making pretty good moves most of the time.  If players are only looking for tactical errors in their games, as I note on my site, they can easily get a chess program for that. Or ask you.

  • 7 years ago


    To Bruce Till. I was at your site and looked some of your games. I saw that in many ocasions you missed best moves. In one game you even missed a simple combination which would lead either to force smothered mate or surrendering havy material. How can you be so cinical and ask money from people to analise their games when I who never played an OTB game with experience only on internet and computer chess games find those variations very easily and very quickly?

  • 7 years ago


    To highroller83:

    Read the article about rating calculation on the chess.com website:




    This will explain a lot.  And visit my website www.brucetill.com for lots of other chess stuff--especially click on the link at the top to visit my blog Fearless Chess.

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