What Accuracy Percentage Should You Aim for in Chess?

An accuracy of 80% or more should leave you happy with the game you played. However, there are factors like early blunders that can make it easy to find the best moves, so your accuracy score in that case wouldn’t necessarily be a good indicator of your performance level.

I encourage you to read on to learn more about the misleading nature of accuracy scores.

When we play a game of chess, the first thing we usually do is check out what the engine has to say about our performance.

Perhaps the most important metric in post-game analysis is your accuracy, which is a measure of how closely your moves align with those recommended by the chess engine, expressed as a percentage.

Many people wonder what accuracy percentage they should aim for at their rating.

In this article, I provide a comprehensive answer to this question.

Factors That Affect Your Accuracy

Let’s first lay down a few factors that affect your accuracy score.

One of the most important and obvious considerations is the time control you’re playing in. If you’re playing a bullet game, you cannot expect a very high accuracy, as the lightning-fast nature of the game doesn’t give you much time to think of the best moves.

Another factor is the type of game at hand. If you fancy yourself as a tactical player who always looks for forcing moves, then a closed positional battle where subtle maneuvers are the name of the game can bring your accuracy down.

Then there is the length of the game. A quick, decisive win can leave you with an accuracy of more than 90%, because the good moves you found would constitute a very large proportion of the total number of moves.

On the other hand, the longer the game, the more room for error there is, and the lower your accuracy score tends to be.

An accuracy of 75% in a game of 80 moves is way more impressive than a similar accuracy in a game of only 30 moves.

The Benchmarks of Accuracy at Different Levels

Now then, let’s talk about some accuracy benchmarks.

We have seen in the previous section how there are many factors that come into play, so it’s not easy to come up with general results, but here’s a rough guideline to help you figure out where you stand.

For beginners, the journey into chess is more about learning the ropes. Accuracy percentages can be quite broad, ranging from 40 to 60%. At this level, the focus is on understanding the basic principles.

As players move into the intermediate phase, an accuracy percentage between 60 and 75% becomes more common. Here, players have a solid grasp of chess tactics and often aim to reduce blunders to improve their scores.

Advanced players, including titled players like International Masters and Grandmasters, typically achieve accuracy percentages above 85%. It’s common for top players to reach into the high 90s in particularly well-played games.

There’s no global consensus on the classification of chess level by rating, but here’s a rough guide:

Beginner: < 1200
Intermediate: 1200 – 2000
Expert: 2000 – 2200
Master: 2200+

Keep in mind that this is very broad and generalized, and that each individual level is in itself stratified. For example, if your rating is 1100, you’re an advanced beginner. If your rating is around 1300, you’re considered an early intermediate.

Remember though, while benchmarks can guide your improvement, they’re not absolute.

Chess is a dynamic game, and sometimes a strategic sacrifice of a piece, which might seem inaccurate, can lead to a strong positional advantage and, eventually, a win. It’s all about context.

Not only that, but many a time, accuracy scores can actually be misleading. More about that in the upcoming section.

The Misleading Reality of Accuracy Scores

It’s very important to understand that your accuracy score can be misleading in some cases.

Obvious Endgame Moves

Often times, you’ll find yourself playing an endgame where it’s very clear what your next move should be. For example, take a look at this position.

White's path to victory is clear as day.
White’s path to victory is clear as day.

Here, it’s very obvious that White should just advance their passed pawn and promote it to a queen.

White doesn’t even have to worry about the Black king chasing their pawn, since the rook on c1 prevents the king from ever crossing the c-file.

Therefore, White’s next 4 moves are guaranteed to be best moves.

Once White promotes, the 4 moves leading up to checkmate are also very obvious.

Ladder checkmate 4 moves after promotion.
Ladder checkmate 4 moves after promotion.

These 8 easy best moves will boost White’s accuracy percentage considerably, but can we say that the resulting accuracy reflects great chess skill? Not really.

This doesn’t only happen if you have a clear path to victory as we saw in the example, but also if you’re completely lost!

For example, if you’re running away with your lone king trying to delay an inevitable checkmate, you would be playing best moves in the process.

This best move has nothing to do with skillful play.
This best move has nothing to do with skillful play.

These best moves wouldn’t be the result of skillful play — you just have no other choice!

If you play 10 such moves, your accuracy score will be amped up, but again, these are not the type of moves that you would take into account when analyzing how well you played.

Early Blunders

A very similar phenomenon occurs if your opponent blunders early in the game, as this would pave the way for an easy win.

For example, if your opponent blunders their queen in the opening, you would have a smooth sailing to victory as it would be very easy to find the best moves.

The usual strategy would be to trade all the pieces down to a completely winning endgame like the one we saw in the earlier examples.

When you have such a devastating material advantage, practically any move you play would be winning. Your game accuracy will therefore be significantly higher than it would be in a more competitive game.

In general, the more your opponent blunders, the easier it is for you to play accurately.

For this reason, your game accuracy doesn’t only reflect your performance; it also gives you some insights about how well your opponent played.

My Personal Opinion

Personally, an accuracy score of 80% or more leaves me quite happy with the game I played.

But as we saw, there are factors like early blunders that can make it quite easy to find the best moves, so my accuracy score in that case wouldn’t necessarily be a good indicator of my performance level.

It’s a much better indicator if my opponent played at a similar level. I feel particularly proud if I win a game with 80% accuracy to my opponent’s 75%.

If my opponent had an atrocious 40% accuracy game, then an accuracy of 80% or even 90% may not be very impressive.

Final Thoughts

I understand you might feel the pressure to achieve a high accuracy every game, but it’s important to keep in mind that your accuracy score is a helpful tool, not an absolute judge of your chess prowess.

Setting realistic goals for improving your chess involves recognizing that mistakes are part of the game.

Approach your chess journey with balance and patience. By all means, use accuracy measurements as a gauge for growth, but don’t let it define you.

Celebrate the wins, learn from the losses, and keep improving.

If you have any questions or insights you’d like to share, feel free to leave me a comment down below. I’d be more than happy to have a chat with you.

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