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How Many Games of Chess Does It Take to Be a Grandmaster?

How Many Games of Chess Does It Take to Be a Grandmaster?

The grandmaster title in chess is the pinnacle of achievement, representing the highest level of skill and mastery in the game. With only 1721 grandmasters in the world as of the September 2020 FIDE rating list, aspiring chess players often wonder how much time and effort it takes to reach this esteemed title.

In this article, we’ll explore the hours of chess study required to become a grandmaster, making use of data and assumptions to estimate the journey.

How Many Chess Games Does It Take to Become a Grandmaster?

While estimating the exact number of chess games needed to become a grandmaster is impossible, we can look at data from some talented chess.com regulars.

For example, Anton Smirnov became a GM after playing 2,831 games, Nihal Sarin after 18,106 games, Arjun Erigaisi after 5,191 games, and Raunak Sadhwani after 7,243 games.

It shows that significant dedication and experience through gameplay are essential components of a grandmaster’s journey.

The Journey to Becoming a Grandmaster: Factors That Matter

The title of Grandmaster in chess is a prestigious accomplishment, signifying the highest level of skill and expertise in the game. However, the road to achieving this coveted title is no easy feat and involves various aspects that aspiring players must consider.

From natural talent and resources to time dedication and, even a stroke of luck, becoming a Grandmaster requires a combination of factors that contribute to this remarkable achievement.

Love for the Game

Passion for chess is a fundamental building block for any aspiring Grandmaster. Some have dedicated their entire lives to the game, while others, despite reaching the peak of their chess careers, decided to step away due to a lack of genuine affection for the game.

A deep love for chess drives players to devote countless hours to study, practice, and improvement, which ultimately propels them closer to the Grandmaster title.

Natural Talent

While hard work and dedication are crucial, natural talent undeniably plays a significant role in the journey to becoming a Grandmaster. Talented players tend to grasp chess concepts more intuitively and progress faster, making it comparatively easier for them to achieve the title.

However, natural talent alone may not suffice; it needs to be complemented by consistent efforts to maximize potential.

The Resources

In the pursuit of Grandmaster status, financial resources play a crucial role. To compete at the highest level and gain valuable experience, players need to travel to tournaments worldwide.

Facing strong opposition in quality tournaments is vital for earning the required rating and norms for the Grandmaster title.

Additionally, having a coach provides invaluable guidance and support, and it is rare to find a Grandmaster who hasn’t had coaching throughout their chess journey.

Time Investment

The amount of time invested in chess each day is a key factor. Players with more free time have the advantage of dedicating extensive hours to studying and playing chess.

For those balancing a day job while pursuing the dream of becoming a Grandmaster, the journey can be considerably more challenging. School students may have a comparative advantage, as they generally have more time available to focus on chess.

The Role of Luck

Luck, often overlooked, can play a role in the quest for the Grandmaster title. Despite achieving numerous norms, some players might fall short of the required rating, while others may miss out on a norm due to unforeseen circumstances, such as failing to meet the foreign player requirement.

Luck, to some extent, can be a factor that either aids or hinders a player’s path to becoming a Grandmaster.

Putting It All Together

Taking all these aspects into account, the journey to becoming a Grandmaster typically spans 8 to 12 years for focused individuals with a clear objective, ample time for chess, and access to resources.

However, this timeline can vary significantly from one player to another, depending on the combination of factors and unique circumstances.

Each chess player’s path is a distinctive adventure, filled with triumphs, challenges, and countless hours of dedication.


The road to becoming a Grandmaster is a remarkable journey that demands love for the game, natural talent, financial resources, time dedication, and sometimes, a dose of luck.

Aspiring players should embrace the challenges, seek improvement, and persistently work towards their goals.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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

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