Untitled design (9)
Other Topics Training & Psychology

From Chess Enthusiast to Grandmaster: How Long Is the Path?

From Chess Enthusiast to Grandmaster: How Long Is the Path?

Chess, often described as the game of kings, has an allure that attracts players from all walks of life. Its beauty lies in its unique blend of simplicity and complexity. A novice can learn the basic rules within a day, yet mastering the game can take years, if not a lifetime. In this article, we delve into the chess learning journey, from understanding the rules to achieving the highest title in the game – that of a Grandmaster.

Learning the Rules: Day 1

Chess is quite remarkable, and arguably unlike any other game, in its accessibility. The basic rules, including how each piece moves, the principles of check and checkmate, and special moves like castling and en passant, can be grasped within a day. However, understanding the rules is just the first step on the chess learning ladder.

Absorbing the Basics: A Few Months

After learning the rules, a period of practice and familiarization is needed for the knowledge to truly sink in. Over a couple of months of regular play, beginners start to see the board and pieces differently. They begin to intuitively understand how the pieces move and interact, leading to a more fluid, instinctive approach to the game.

Developing Strategy: About a Year

After a year of consistent play and learning, players typically reach a point where they can start thinking about higher-level concepts such as strategy and planning. Instead of merely reacting to their opponent’s moves, they can now formulate and execute their own plans. Understanding tactics, combinations, and common patterns also becomes a crucial part of their repertoire.

During this period, an essential skill that develops is the ability to “see” the chessboard clearly. Players become capable of quickly recognizing which squares are attacked or defended by a piece just by glancing at the board. Overcoming this initial obstacle is a significant leap forward for a beginner, as recognizing threats and opportunities on the board is crucial to competitive play.

Overcoming Beginner’s Stubbornness: A Constant Battle

A common pitfall for beginners is their stubbornness or tunnel vision when they devise a plan. They can become so focused on executing their strategy that they overlook their opponent’s moves and threats. This tunnel vision often results in losses. However, each loss provides valuable lessons, especially if the player takes the time to analyze and learn from their mistakes.

The Chess Learning Journey: An Ongoing Process

Even after several years of playing chess, there’s always something more to learn. For example, a player with five years of experience might have developed a solid understanding of the game, but they will still find areas where they can improve. Chess is a game of continuous learning, offering new insights and challenges at every stage, regardless of a player’s level.

Achieving Grandmaster Status: A Long-Term Commitment

Becoming a Grandmaster (GM), the highest title in chess, takes a significant amount of time, talent, and dedication. It requires consistent high-level performances in international tournaments and achieving an Elo rating of 2500 or above. On average, it takes about a decade or more of intensive training and competitive play to attain this prestigious title.

The timeline to becoming a Grandmaster can vary widely among individuals. Some prodigies have achieved this title at a remarkably young age. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the youngest Grandmaster in history was Abhimanyu Mishra from the United States, who achieved the title at the age of 12 years, 4 months, and 25 days.


Chess’s depth and richness are part of its appeal. The game never becomes stale, as there’s always a new strategy to explore, a different tactic to learn, or an interesting game to analyze. This continuous learning journey is what makes chess fascinating and enjoyable for millions of people worldwide.

From understanding the basic rules to striving for Grandmaster status, the journey of learning chess is a rewarding adventure. The most important thing is to enjoy the journey, learn from losses, and always strive for improvement. Happy playing, and above all, have fun!


I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

Free Training

Swipe Up to Get Better at Chess!
How Do GMs Find the Best Moves? Improve FASTER at Chess
Watch Now