How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Chess? (Explained)

Many aspiring chess players wonder how long it takes to become proficient or even master the game.

While there is no definitive answer to this question, several factors can influence the time it takes to get good at chess.

How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Chess?

The time it takes to get good at chess varies widely based on individual dedication, practice, and natural aptitude. But consistent study and play over months to years is typically required to achieve a high level of proficiency.

For the most naturally talented players who start at age 5-6, they usually take 8-10 years to become grandmasters.

Below we look more deeply at these factors and provide valuable insights into the journey of becoming a skilled chess player.

The Learning Curve in Chess

Chess is often described as a game that takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.

The learning curve in chess can be steep, especially for beginners.

Understanding the rules and basic strategies can be relatively easy, but developing the skills necessary to compete at a high level requires time, practice, and dedication.

Most high-level chess players start very young, as soon as 5-6 years old and start playing in tournaments shortly after.

In many respects, getting really good at chess is much like getting really good at a language.

You can start at any age and learn, but the earlier the better.

Understanding the Rules

Before diving into the complexities of chess, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the game’s rules.

This includes knowing how each piece moves, the objective of the game, and the basic principles of chess strategy.

Learning the rules can be accomplished in a relatively short period, usually within a few hours or days.

Mastering the Fundamentals

Once the rules are understood, players must focus on mastering the fundamentals of chess.

This includes developing a strong opening repertoire, understanding basic tactics, and learning how to evaluate positions.

The time it takes to master these fundamentals can vary depending on the individual’s dedication and study habits.

On average, it may take several months to a year of consistent practice to become proficient in the fundamentals of chess.

This might come to around a 1000 rating (top end of the beginner scale).

Factors Influencing Chess Skill Development

Several factors can influence the time it takes to get good at chess.

These factors include:

  • Time Invested: The more time a player dedicates to studying and playing chess, the faster they are likely to improve. Regular practice and study sessions are crucial for skill development.
  • Quality of Study: Simply spending time on chess does not guarantee improvement. The quality of study is equally important. Engaging in structured learning, analyzing games, and seeking feedback from stronger players can significantly accelerate progress.
  • Experience: Previous experience in strategic games or activities that require critical thinking can provide a foundation for learning chess. Players with a background in games like poker or strategy board games may find it easier to grasp certain concepts in chess.
  • Natural Aptitude: Some individuals may have a natural aptitude for chess, allowing them to progress more quickly. However, natural talent alone is not enough to become a strong chess player. Hard work and dedication are still essential.

Case Studies: How Long It Took Famous Chess Players to Get Good

Examining the journeys of famous chess players can provide valuable insights into the time it takes to become proficient in the game.

While these examples may not be representative of every player’s experience, they offer a glimpse into the dedication and effort required to reach a high level of play.

Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players in history, started playing chess at the age of six.

He quickly showed exceptional talent and became a grandmaster at the age of 15.

Fischer’s rise to the top was relatively rapid, but it was fueled by his intense dedication and countless hours of study and practice.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen began playing chess at the age of five, which is reflected in his app Play Magnus.

He achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 13, making him one of the youngest grandmasters in history.

Carlsen’s success can be attributed to his exceptional talent, relentless work ethic, and access to high-quality training resources.

Judit Polgar

Judit Polgar, the strongest female chess player of all time, started playing chess at the age of five.

She became a grandmaster at the age of 15, breaking Fischer’s record as the youngest grandmaster at that time.

Polgar’s achievements highlight the importance of early exposure to chess and consistent practice.


So, in the case of Fischer, Carlsen, and Judit Polgar, from learning how to move the pieces at the age of 5-6 to becoming a grandmaster (2500+ ELO plus tournament success to achieve the three GM norms required) took 8-10 years.

FAQs – How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Chess?

1. How long does it take to become a decent chess player?

Becoming a decent chess player can take anywhere from several months to a few years, depending on the time and effort invested in learning and practicing the game.

2. Can I become a strong chess player without natural talent?

Yes, natural talent is not a prerequisite for becoming a strong chess player.

Hard work, dedication, and effective study methods can compensate for any lack of natural aptitude.

3. How many hours a day should I practice chess?

The amount of time you should dedicate to practicing chess depends on your goals and availability.

However, regular practice sessions of at least one to two hours a day can lead to significant improvement over time.

4. Is it necessary to study chess theory to get good at chess?

Studying chess theory is an essential part of becoming a strong player.

It helps develop a deeper understanding of the game and provides a foundation for strategic decision-making.

However, practical play and analyzing your own games are equally important.

5. Can I become a good chess player by playing online?

Playing chess online can be a valuable tool for improvement, especially when combined with analysis and study.

However, it is important to balance online play with other forms of practice, such as solving puzzles and studying chess theory.

6. How important is playing against stronger opponents?

Playing against stronger opponents is crucial for growth as a chess player.

It exposes you to different playing styles, challenges your skills, and provides opportunities to learn from your mistakes.

7. Can I become a good chess player if I start late?

Starting chess at a later age does not necessarily hinder your ability to become a good player.

While it may take longer to catch up to those who started earlier, consistent practice and dedication can still lead to significant improvement.

8. Should I focus on specific chess openings to get good at chess?

While having a repertoire of chess openings is important, it is equally crucial to develop a solid understanding of the underlying principles and strategies.

Focusing solely on openings without a strong foundation may limit your overall growth as a player.

9. How do I know if I am making progress in chess?

Tracking your progress in chess can be done through various means, such as analyzing your games, participating in tournaments, or seeking feedback from stronger players.

Regular self-evaluation and setting specific goals can also help gauge your improvement.

10. Can I become a professional chess player?

Becoming a professional chess player requires exceptional dedication, talent, and a significant investment of time.

While it is a challenging path, it is not impossible for those willing to put in the necessary effort and sacrifice.

Summary – How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Chess?

There is no definitive timeline for becoming good at chess, as it depends on various factors such as time invested, quality of study, experience, and natural aptitude.

However, with consistent practice, dedication, and effective study methods, one can expect to become a decent chess player within several months to a few years.

It is important to focus on mastering the fundamentals, studying chess theory, playing against stronger opponents, and tracking progress to continue improving.

Becoming a strong chess player is a journey that requires patience, perseverance, and a love for the game.

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