Calculating your Chess Rating and Knowledge

Here’s a fun exercise to determine your estimated chess rating taking into account your existing chess skill and knowledge. While this is just for fun, it can prove helpful in determining how you should focus your chess training. If your knowledge rating is much higher than your skills rating, then you you need to focus your training towards skill building where if your skill rating is much higher than your knowledge rating, then you need to focus more on book learning. You should strive to have your knowledge and skill ratings at no more than 100 points apart.

Here’s how this works.

Formula: (Skill + Knowledge) / 2 = ELO

You need to plug in two of the numbers, and the two best to plug in are ELO and Skill. Ideally, you would use your USCF rating, but if you don’t have one, you can use your ICC of FICS rating, just remember to subtract 150 from your ICC or FICS rating so that it approximates an official USCF rating.

For your skills rating, I would use Igor Khmelnitsky’s Chess Exam and Training Guide to test your skills and get a rating approximation.


Skill rating: 1138 (based on Khelmenitsky’s book)
USCF ELO: 1340
Knowledge rating = K

(S+K) / 2 = ELO

(1138 + K) / 2 = 1340

1138 / 2 + k/2 – 1340 = 0

569 + K/2 – 1340 = 0

k/2-781 = 0

K=781 * 2

K= 1562

So my chess knowledge rating equals 1562, while my chess skill rating is approximately 1138 giving me an ELO of 1340. This means I have to focus on getting my skill rating to par with my knowledge rating in order to play at an estimated 1562 ELO rating.

The goal should be get my skill rating within the same ballpark as my knowledge rating (+/- 100 elo points) before focusing on adding more chess knowledge.

You should repeat this process every three months, but you will need to take the skill’s test again as well as play in a tournament in order to update your USCF rating and get an accurate reading.

I would love to hear feedback on this, especially if you actually try it out.

Related Chess Skill and Knowledge Articles


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5 thoughts on “Calculating your Chess Rating and Knowledge

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  2. Patrik Öhagen says:

    Interesting stuff! Are you still working on your chess? It would be interesting to swap some ideas.

    Cheers, Patrik

  3. beginchess says:

    Hello Patrik,

    Thanks for your comment. I have been slacking off for the past month, with little or no chess activities. I am only playing occassionally, but I hope to get back into it in the very near future. Would love to hear your ideas on training and improvement.


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