Mastering Chess: From 1200 to 1500 in Just a Few Moves

Looking to improve your chess rating from 1200 to 1500? If so, you’re in the right place.

We’ll explore what a chess rating is, how it’s calculated, and most importantly, how you can elevate your game.

By studying openings, analyzing games, practicing consistently, and more, you can make significant strides in your chess journey. Let’s get started!

What is a Chess Rating?

A chess rating is a mathematical system used to estimate the playing strength of a player according to their performance against other players. The more accurate their rating, the more accurately it predicts the outcomes of each game they play. The most famous chess ratings are the FIDE rating system and the USCF rating system (United States).

A player accomplishes a 1200 chess rating the moment they have played a few sanctioned games of chess according to the USCF or FIDE systems. According to collegiate coach and chess expert Mike Kummer, an unrated player on the USCF rating scale has a base start of 1200. The initial rating, irrespective of performance, reflects the average playing strength of most new players. From there, if you perform better than average, your rating will go up; if you perform worse than average, it will go down.

The official FIDE, or national federation rating of a new player in the US, is a performance-only rating that moves in increments of 24 points, whereas the USCF rating system is performance-based and can move in increments of as little as 2 points. According to Kummer, these ratings do provide an accurate playing level estimate when used over the long term — usually at least 20 to 30 sanctioned games — but are expected to fluctuate frequently until they reach this stability. The highest rating achieved at any single point, known as the peak rating, can be hundreds of points above or below the official rating and is often referred to as the player’s true rating.

How is Chess Rating Calculated?

Chess ratings are calculated by taking the Arpad Elo Formula (average of current player score + opponent rating).

Available rankings are continually updated by organizations like FIDE and the US Chess Federation (USCF). The ratings translate to probabilities, which is the percentage chance someone with the rating will beat someone else with a higher rating. A resident grandmaster at the Internet Chess Club put it this way during a article on understanding chess ratings, “If the expected score of two players is even (e.g. both players’ ratings translate to a 50 percent chance of victory before the game or match has begun) instead of thinking of both players as making individual choices as to the outcome of the game, it’s more correct to think of nature making that choice by a roll of the dice, or a flip of a coin, etc.

How to Improve Your Chess Rating?

You can improve your chess rating by focusing on and improving the following key areas of chess play:

  1. Understanding Opening Theory: The opening principles help you to get your pieces quickly and harmoniously into play (rapid development) and prepare to castle (king to safety and better rook connections).
  2. Understanding Middlegame Positional Elements: If you have a better awareness and a better idea about your ideas in the chess middlegame then it can help you in planning your moves strategically.
  3. Calculation and Visualization: Calculation is considered as the heart of chess because it gives you the capability of imagining different possibilities and outcomes and allows you to plan accordingly.
  4. Pattern recognition: With practice, you will develop quicker pattern recognition. This means that you will recognize familiar positions from previous games and come up with more accurate solutions as a result.
  5. Study of Endgames: Endgame play is an integral part of chess. Knowing the basic mating patterns, other checkmates, the concept of opposition, and knowing how to secure the victory using the pawn advantage is necessary for any player in order to improve their chess ratings. refers to an article by Peter Doggerswhere he regales getting advice from GM Hikaru Nakamura to spend time on chess training in a progressively helpful manner. Specifically, they suggest that 50% of your training time should be spent on endgames, 30% on calculative work, and the remaining 20% on opening and patterning work. Caroline Wang of Andover Chess Club explains that while board study can be very helpful, you should also play repeatedly in tournaments. She explains, The more games you play, the more chances you’ll have to improve your play and learn from your mistakes.

Strength in these areas will no doubt improve your chess rating.

Study Chess Openings and Strategies

Begin by studying common chess openings. As people improve, they usually switch to e4 from either d4 or the English Opening. The most popular opening move today is 1. e4 since it opens up clear lines for the queen and bishop. It is difficult to see long-term strategic plans in the opening, so spend less of your time there if you are looking for rapid improvement. Develop theory about a few common openings with your first 2-4 moves, then decide on your own what to do, follow established plans, and learn from them. You may improve your game significantly if you subscribe to an opening repertoire. Great tools for learning chess practice plans and opening strategies are listed throughout the YouTube chess recommendation article.

Analyze Your Own Games

Spend time post-game playing back your own wins and losses, taking note of positions where you made mistakes. Study why you made a mistake and compare the mistake to any previous similar mistake. After watching patiently but critically, resolve to not repeat the mistake, thinks Nadav Tal. Endgame positions are important to study because you might be able to use your better endgame play potential as a good reason to hit ENDGAME and offer a draw when you have less time to finish a game, IM Daniel Rensch says.

When analyzing your own games, use chess games analysis (CGA) to acquire feedback on your game from stronger players. CGA is an amateur/advanced chess players online platform that can analyze your games and provide you a direction on how you can avoid mistakes committed in previous games.

Practice Consistently

The playing and learning graphs of the respondents to the Chess Community Survey of 2020 by show that high-performing players practice more. Those between ELO 1200 and 1500 indicated they played between 5 and 15 games per week and practiced 10 hours per month. Quality and consistency matter. Practicing 10 hours per month can easily be done with an hour of practice every three days or so.

With training materials and resources available from authoritative institutions, practicing for an hour involves the following techniques seen in Programs 1, 2, and 4 of the SFCA’s Play Like A Champion Bundle.

With daily practice of 1 hour over half a year, achieving a jump to 1500 is realistic. Maintaining a daily routine will keep the brain charged, create rhythm and timing, and enhance cerebral pathways.

Play Against Stronger Opponents

Playing against stronger opponents is a good way to get to the 1500s as you constantly test your chess skills under pressure. And consistently playing chess at that level, you will get better and build the confidence. However, it is advisable to also play against slightly weaker opponents regularly to practice your strategy against lesser competition as well.

Playing against stronger competition at this stage requires the Tournament or Corporate features of which offer tournament matching with players of similar levels. These features are available in Premium. Follow these steps. Because of this, Premium is a great way to interact with a network of people online and play in tournaments to find similarly skilled opponents. It will offer you the chance to test your skills against better competition and learn from people who are already in the skill range you strive to reach.

If you prefer in-person interaction, contact your local chess club to find the level of competition that suits you. Stronger in-person players will provide feedback on your game style and help you troubleshoot areas where you may be weaker, pushing you to get to the 1500 level.

Seek Coaching or Join a Chess Club

Chess clubs and personal coaches can be a critical element of improving from 1200-1500. There is a strong foundation of chess skills that need to be built up in that level range, and having a knowledgeable coach or access to regular games against stronger opponents can be very helpful.

Personal chess coaches can be very costly, ranging from 20-100 USD per hour depending upon the make-up and skill of the coach. However, personal coaching has a great success rate with improvement and is customized to the learner’s pace and knowledge levels. Chess clubs may feature cheaper or even free group lessons and game management services. Plus, meeting, conversing, and relaxing with like-minded enthusiasts can improve focus and attention in the learning experience.

How to Go From 1200 to 1500 in Chess?

To go from 1200 to 1500 in chess, simply study opening theory, play daily, analyze your games, take your time to think on key moves, and practice solving tactics every day. From improving your coordination to your king’s safety maneuvers, these tactics tested at 1200 Elo will solidify your foundation as you develop your game to 1500 Elo.

Focus on Improving Your Opening Repertoire

One significant improvement at the 1200 to 1500 level in chess involves focusing more time on improving your opening repertoire. While it can be useful at lower levels to allow your opponents to make the first mistakes throughout the game and play reactive chess, at a higher level it is a disadvantageous tactic.

A wide variety of opening systems and lines can be learned online, including books, chess databases, and video tutorials. Masters live streams or following chess tournaments are the easiest way to pick up the basics as they are typically good at explaining the ideas behind moves. Particularly focus on learning the four-corners opening alongside one of either the smith-morra gambit, the English attack against the sicilian based on the move order move 2. Nf3, early g3 versus different variations of nimzo-indian defense, Queen’s gambit declined, poisoned pawn, or any other variations that are interesting for you to play or line against the King’s Indian defense to achieve a strong repertoire at an earlier level. Chess commentator Maurice Ashley recommends that you develop the pieces properly to the center of the board (center rows e and d with or without pawns on the sides).

Work on Your Tactical Skills

Tactics are crucial to becoming a good chess player. Morphy’s Move recommends working out 15 tactical puzzles every day when starting out, and then increasing the number to solve 20 puzzles in a day. To reach the level between 1200 and 1500, it is important to be good at basic hooks from over 190 chess combinations known as checkmates. Players can learn a great deal from rich-dynamic patterns seen in diverse chess combinations.

Improve Your Endgame Knowledge

Improving your endgame knowledge is greatly beneficial when progressing from 1200 to 1500 on According to De La Riva Silverio (2020) of the National Institute of Physical Education of Barcelona, endgame play is about three times more critical than opening or middlegame play due to over 50% of chess games reaching the stage where there are less than 16 pieces left on the board, creating numerous opportunities for gains or losses that are crucial to overall score.

However, many beginners and even intermediate players make significant mistakes, especially when it comes to calculation and knowing boundaries in endgames comprised of few pieces, according to Jeremy Silman, the highly-regarded, USCF-rated international master who coaches chess at different levels. Therefore, a player’s progress from 1200 to 1500 at would benefit from working to improve his or her endgame knowledge. Resources for improving endgame play that are recommended by various chess grandmasters and endorsed by include YouTube channels such as that of GothamChess and The Backyard Professor.

Study Master Games

After you are comfortable with analyzing games and opening theory, one of the best ways to learn the middlegame and endgame is to examine games by the pillars of chess history. Watching master games, in general, is a preferred pastime of many chess players while others examine studies and variations to improve their game.

From 1200 to 1500, this technique can be especially useful. Instead of simply playing back the moves of a game, pay attention to the way principles are used by players. Typical patterns in a given strategy and motifs (for instance the bottom row weakness, removing the guard, induced weaknesses, domination, etc.) at higher levels will help you recognize and use these patterns at lower levels as well.

A great resource to watch the guys is the Agadmator chess channel on YouTube which analyzes the most famous and sometimes not so famous chess games with historical references and shares information about the players. You can also check the various YouTube channels boasting pro-hosted content such as the GothamChes YouTube channel. The advantage is GOthamCHESS specifically teaches about patterns and principles that you should know for both the middlegame and endgame and discusses his moves while being as explicit as possible.

The trouble with the Agadmator chess channel is if the players are utilizing advanced opening theory, it may go over your head at earlier levels. Therefore, understanding what went wrong in regards to chess principles and then referring back to the opening theory is a more beneficial approach.

Play in Tournaments or Online Chess Platforms

Playing in tournaments or on online chess platforms like or LeChess against stronger players can help you improve from 1200 to 1500. Stronger players can give you a better understanding of the game, better gameplay tactics, and improving your own tactics

A number of online platforms will pair you up with opponents at a similar skill level. LeChess is a good platform for those just starting out, as it requires no formal signup, registration, or payment.

Chess champs is a great app for those looking to challenge others at higher levels. The Chess champs ranking system ranges from rookie to legend. Quick rated games in the app are usually against opponents of a similar level – so those at 1200 look to book games with others in the app who are at a similar level – while looking for mentoring and challenges from 1500 level folks.

Both and LeChess offer one-on-one play, as well as chess varieties which can be exciting such as 3D chess for Star Trek fans or Bughouse.


To improve from a rating of around 1200 to 1500 in chess, beginners should work on tactics, openings, and endgames to paint a broad foundation of skill in chess. Furthermore, learning from one’s losses via practice and game-analysis is a useful tool. Online practice resources, books, and video lectures in combination with in-person chess play are strongly recommended.

One’s tactics and calculation can be improved through the Bobby Fischer> video and post series on solving puzzles on Youtube. A journeyman’s understanding of endgames can be improved in the Practical Chess Exercises book by Ray Cheng which covers a broad range of chess strategies and scenarios. Yasser Seirawan’s book Play Winning Chess is a good introductory text on basic openings concerning where to move pieces at the start and the middle ranks of the board.

The resources listed above will get you a head start on improving basics when transitioning from a beginner to an intermediate player in the range of 1200 to 1500.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to improve from a 1200 to 1500 rating in chess?

The best way to improve your rating in chess is to consistently practice and play against players who are at a higher skill level than you. This will help you learn new strategies and techniques that you can apply to your own game.

Are there any specific opening moves or defenses that can help me improve my rating?

While there are no guaranteed opening moves or defenses that will skyrocket your rating, it is important to study and understand different openings and defenses in order to have a well-rounded game. Experiment with different variations and see what works best for you.

What other resources can I use to improve my chess skills?

In addition to playing against stronger opponents, you can also watch instructional videos, read books, and analyze famous chess games to gain a deeper understanding of the game. Joining a chess club or attending tournaments can also provide valuable learning experiences.

Is it important to study endgame scenarios in order to improve my rating?

Absolutely. The endgame is where most games are won or lost, so it is crucial to have a strong understanding of endgame strategies. Practice and study common endgame scenarios such as checkmates with a few remaining pieces or pawn promotions.

How can I stay motivated while trying to improve my rating?

One way to stay motivated is to set small, achievable goals for yourself. This could be as simple as winning a certain number of games in a row or successfully executing a new opening move. Also, remember to have fun and enjoy the learning process.

Is it important to analyze my games in order to improve my rating?

Yes, analyzing your games is essential to improving your rating. This allows you to identify your weaknesses and mistakes, and work on improving them in future games. You can also seek feedback from stronger players or use chess software to analyze your games.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *