How strong is your opponent?

  • cjus
  • | Jan 3, 2009

It turns out that it's actually difficult to tell. The answer depends on how you define the word "strong".  For example, does "strong" imply any of the following?

  • strong because she plays quickly rather than taking days to consider her next move?
  • strong because he has played lots of games against stronger players and has done well?
  • strong because she doesn't rely on playing moves out on a board (or using analysis board feature under the Moves tab) to workout potential moves.  Note: not that you could tell either way.  But this does improve a players strength.

To get an indication of your opponent's strength consider a combination of the following:

  • How many games have they played?
    • What percentage of their games are wins?
  • What was their highest rating?
  • What was their best win and was that game a result of a blunder or timeout?
  • What is the average rating of their opponents.

For example if your opponent has played 50+ games and is rated 1590 and the average rating of his opponents is one to two hundred points lower (1390) then I'd bet that your opponent is probably holding his own at 1590.   

Take my current rating.  At 1764, I've played 15 games.  The average rating of my opponents is 1341. I'd say this is a strong indication that I'm probably not as strong as my rating would indicated.  Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the rating system is flawed.  Anyone who has studied statistics can tell you that the sample population has to be meaningful. Meaning that it's harder to derive meaningful information from smaller data samples. 

Why does any of this matter?  Well, for one, if you're interested in improving your playing strength you should measure yourself against players who have solid ratings.  Another benefit is that established players (those who have played many games) are less likely to be cheaters.

The Glicko RD System ( seems to be a good way to qualify the validity of a player's rating.  Sadly I don't see the Glicko RD on player profiles.  Perhaps that information is only available to Premium members?


  • 10 months ago


    Nice article. Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12 ":but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

    The first rule of measure is to measure against something that does not change.Humans are typically especially (at least in chess.)

    Ratings are fun (and helpful) but in hillbilly speak the proverb says "every dog has his day." Peace

      Please be relevant, helpful & nice!

  • 3 years ago


    one move can change the game...

  • 8 years ago


    nice article, nice design too :) yup I think glicko rd is available for premium members :)

  • 8 years ago


         Well, I ask myself, "if I spit in my opponents face across the board, and take a few of his chess pieces and step on them, would i get a trip to the hospital in an ambulence".  This formula is usually accurate for sizing up an opponent's strength.  Good question t/yLaughing

  • 8 years ago


    You sit down at a board against someone you never faced before.  No one you know knows them.  It could be in a park at a chess board that you see and both happen do you tell then?

    Play and find out.  That is the beauty of the game - in its simplest form there is always that mysteryof facing someone you don't know.

  • 8 years ago


    You can get a rough estimate by evaluating their moves.

  • 8 years ago


    I think there is no way to know exactly how strong is your opponent, I mean: ¨it doesn´t exist the weak opponent¨

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