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Unveiling the Average Number of Moves in a Chess Game

Unveiling the Average Number of Moves in a Chess Game

Chess, the game of kings, is renowned for its complex strategic elements and the sheer variety of possible games.

With over 10^40 possible legal positions, no two games of chess are ever truly the same.

However, amidst all this complexity and variability, a compelling question often arises: What is the average number of moves in a chess game?

The Numbers Unveiled

In a comprehensive study of 731,000 games played on the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) over the course of 13 years, an analysis was conducted. The players in these games held ratings above 2000, and non-blitz time controls were utilized to avoid skewing the data with ultra-fast games.

The results were enlightening, showcasing a fascinating distribution of game lengths.

The analysis revealed that, on average, a chess game lasts for 79 half moves. For clarity, a half move in chess refers to a single turn by either White or Black.

Therefore, 79 half moves equate to approximately 40 full moves (where both players have made a move). The median number of half moves was 70, and the mode – the most frequently occurring number of half moves – was 51.

It’s worth noting that the dataset also contained a substantial number of very short games. These were mainly due to early resignations, which can often happen in online chess if a player blunders in the opening or faces internet connection issues.

Beyond the Numbers: Time Management and Strategy

While the average number of moves in a game provides a useful guideline, it’s essential to remember that chess is a dynamic game with countless variables.

The length of a game can be significantly influenced by the playing style, the level of competition, and the specific strategies used.

Therefore, while this information may offer an interesting insight and potential resource management tool for chess engines, human players might want to focus more on their time management skills and strategic acuity.

By combining these elements effectively, players can ensure they are making the most of every move, regardless of the game’s length.


The world of chess is as deep as it is broad. The average game length, around 40 full moves, is just one of the countless interesting facets that make chess a perennially fascinating game of strategy and intellect.

Whether you’re a budding grandmaster, a chess enthusiast, or a curious spectator, there’s always something new to discover on the 64-square battlefield.


I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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