The International Chess Federation, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), awards several performance-based titles to chess players, up to and including the highly prized Grandmaster (GM) title. Titles generally require a combination of Elo rating and norms (performance benchmarks in competitions including other titled players). Once awarded, FIDE titles are held for life, though a title may be revoked in exceptional circumstances (for example for cheating). Open titles may be earned by all players, while women's titles are restricted to female players. Many strong female players hold both open and women's titles. FIDE also awards titles for arbiters, organizers and trainers.
The term "master" for a strong chess player was initially used informally. From the late 19th century various national chess federations began to draw up formal requirements for the use of such a title. The term "Grandmaster", in the form of the German loan word Großmeister, was a formal title in the Soviet Union, and had also been in informal use for the world's elite players for several decades before its institution by FIDE in 1950. FIDE's first titles were awarded in 1950 and consisted of 27 Grandmasters (GMs), 94 International Masters (IMs), and 17 Woman International Masters (WIMs).
FIDE's first GMs were:
- Ossip Bernstein (France)
- Isaac Boleslavsky (USSR)
- Igor Bondarevsky (USSR)
- Mikhail Botvinnik (USSR)
- David Bronstein (USSR)
- Oldřich Duras (Czechoslovakia)
- Max Euwe (Netherlands)
- Reuben Fine (USA)
- Salo Flohr (USSR)
- Ernst Gruenfeld (Austria)
- Paul Keres (USSR)
- Borislav Kostić (Yugoslavia)
- Alexander Kotov (USSR)
- Grigory Levenfish (USSR)
- Andor Lilienthal (USSR)
- Géza Maróczy (Hungary)
- Jacques Mieses (England)
- Miguel Najdorf (Argentina)
- Viacheslav Ragozin (USSR)
- Samuel Reshevsky (USA)
- Akiba Rubinstein (Poland)
- Friedrich Sämisch (West Germany)
- Vasily Smyslov (USSR)
- Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden)
- László Szabó (Hungary)
- Savielly Tartakower (France)
- Milan Vidmar (Yugoslavia)
Initially the titles were awarded by a vote of the FIDE Congress before the requirements became more formalized. In 1957, FIDE introduced norms (qualifying standards) for FIDE titles. Two further subordinate titles, FIDE Master and Candidate Master, were created in 1978 and 2002 respectively.
Similar titles are awarded by the International Correspondence Chess Federation, and by the World Federation for Chess Composition for both composing and solving chess problems. These bodies work in cooperation with FIDE but are now independent of it.
|Open titles, January 2020|
|International Master (IM)||3,738||116||3,854|
|FIDE Master (FM)||8,067||37||8,104|
|Candidate Master (CM)||1,708||19||1,727|
The titles of Grandmaster, International Master, FIDE Master and Candidate Master are available to all over the board chess players. The requirements for each title have varied over time, but generally require having demonstrated a prescribed level of achievement in tournaments at classical time controls under FIDE-approved conditions.
Grandmaster (GM) Edit
The title Grandmaster is awarded to outstanding chess players by FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. Once achieved, the title is generally held for life but on rare occasions it has been revoked in cases of cheating. In chess literature it is usually abbreviated to GM. The abbreviation IGM for International Grandmaster can also sometimes be found, particularly in older literature.
The usual way to obtain the title is to achieve the required title norms over 27 or more games and a FIDE rating of 2500 or more. Broadly, a norm is a grandmaster-level performance in a FIDE-approved tournament. The precise definition of a norm is complex and has frequently been amended, but in general a grandmaster norm is defined as a performance rating of at least 2600 over 9 or more games. In addition, the field must have an average rating of at least 2380, must include at least three grandmasters, and must include players from a mix of national federations.
The title may also be awarded directly without going through the usual norm requirements in a few high level tournaments, provided the player has a FIDE rating of over 2300:
- Reaching the final 16 in a FIDE World Cup
- Winning the Women's World Championship
- Winning the World Junior Championship (U20) outright
- Winning the World Senior Championship outright, both in the 50+ and 65+ divisions
- Winning a Continental (e.g. Pan American, European, Asian or African) championship
Beginning with Nona Gaprindashvili in 1978, a number of women have earned the GM title. Since about 2000, most of the top 10 women have held the GM title. This should not be confused with the Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title.
International Master (IM) Edit
The title International Master is awarded to strong chess players who are below the level of grandmaster. Instituted along with the Grandmaster title in 1950, it is a lifetime title, usually abbreviated as IM in chess literature.
The usual way to obtain the title is to achieve the required title norms over 27 or more games and a FIDE rating of 2400 or more. Broadly, a norm is an International Master-level performance in a FIDE-approved tournament. The precise definition of a norm is complex and has frequently been amended, but in general an IM norm is defined as a performance rating of at least 2450 over 9 or more games. In addition, the field must have an average rating of at least 2230, must include at least three International Masters or Grandmasters, and must include players from a mix of national federations.
There are also several ways the IM title can be awarded directly without going through the usual norm process, provided the player has a rating of at least 2200. From July 2017, these are as follows:
- Qualifying for the FIDE World Cup
- Finishing second in the Women's World Championship
- Finishing second or third in the World Junior Championship (U20)
- Finishing second or third in the World Senior Championship, in both the over 50 and over 65 divisions
- Winning (outright or shared) the World Junior Championship (U18)
- Winning the World Junior Championship (U16) outright
- Finishing second or third in a Continental championship
- Winning (outright or shared) a Continental over 50 championship, over 65 championship or under 20 championship
- Winning a Continental under 18 championship outright
- Winning a sub-Continental championship
- Winning a Commonwealth, Francophone or Ibero-American championship
- Winning a World disabled championship
After becoming an IM, most professional players set their next goal as becoming a Grandmaster. It is also possible to become a Grandmaster without ever having been an International Master. Larry Christiansen of the United States (1977), Wang Hao of China, Anish Giri of The Netherlands, and former world champions Mikhail Tal of Latvia and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia all became Grandmasters without ever having been an IM. Bobby Fischer of the United States attained both titles solely by virtue of qualifying for the 1958 Interzonal (IM title) and 1959 Candidates Tournament (GM title), only incidentally becoming IM before GM. The more usual path is first to become an IM, then move on to the GM level.
FIDE Master (FM) Edit
Introduced in 1978, FM ranks below the title of International Master but ahead of Candidate Master. Unlike the Grandmaster and International Master titles, there is no requirement for a player to achieve norms. The usual way for a player to qualify for the FIDE Master title is by achieving an Elo rating of 2300 or more. There are also many ways the title can be gained by players with a rating of at least 2100 but less than 2300; for example by scoring at least 65% over a minimum of 9 games at an Olympiad.
Candidate Master (CM) Edit
Introduced in 2002, the usual way for a player to qualify for the Candidate Master title is by achieving an Elo rating of 2200 or more. For players rated over 2000 but under 2200, there are many other ways to gain the title, for example by scoring 50% over 7 or more games at an Olympiad. Candidate Master ranks below other open FIDE titles.
|Women's titles, January 2020|
|Woman Grandmaster (WGM)||458|
|Woman International Master (WIM)||846|
|Woman FIDE Master (WFM)||1,737|
|Woman Candidate Master (WCM)||762|
Though the open FIDE titles are not gender-segregated, the following four titles given by FIDE are exclusive to women and may be held simultaneously with an open title. The requirements for these titles are about 200 Elo rating points lower than the requirements for the corresponding open titles. These titles are sometimes criticized and some female players elect not to take them, preferring to compete for open titles. For example, Grandmaster Judit Polgár, in keeping with her policy of playing only open competitions, never took a women's title.
Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Edit
Woman Grandmaster is the second highest-ranking chess title restricted to women. The higher such title is Women's World Champion. Woman Grandmaster should not be confused for the very highest chess title, that of Grandmaster (open to both men and women). FIDE introduced the WGM title in 1976, joining the previously introduced lower-ranking title, Woman International Master.
The WGM title is ranked lower than that of International Master (IM) but higher than that of FIDE Master (FM). The winner of the World Girls Junior Championship is automatically awarded the WGM title. The current regulations can be found in the FIDE handbook.
Woman International Master (WIM) Edit
Woman International Master is next to the highest-ranking title given by FIDE exclusively to women. FIDE first awarded the WIM title (formerly called International Woman Master, or IWM) in 1950.
The WIM title has lower requirements than the unrestricted International Master (2400) title. The runners-up in the World Girls Junior Championship are automatically awarded the WIM title. The current regulations can be found in the FIDE handbook.
Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Edit
The WFM title is just above Woman Candidate Master in the women-only titles given by FIDE. This title may be achieved by gaining a FIDE rating of 2100 or more. FIDE introduced this title in 1978.
Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Edit
|Arena titles, January 2020|
|Arena Grandmaster (AGM)||392||3||395|
|Arena International Master (AIM)||780||6||786|
|Arena FIDE Master (AFM)||792||10||802|
|Arena Candidate Master (ACM)||377||5||382|
Arena titles can be earned online using FIDE's server, and are intended for players in the lower rating band. Should a player with an arena title gain an over the board FIDE title, this title replaces their arena title.
Arena Grandmaster (AGM) is the highest online title. It is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 2000.
Arena International Master (AIM) is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 1700.
Arena FIDE Master (AFM) is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 1400.
Arena Candidate Master (ACM) is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 1100.
Arbiters and trainersEdit
FIDE also awards titles for arbiters and trainers.
The titles for trainers are FIDE Senior Trainer, FIDE Trainer, FIDE Instructor, National Instructor, and Developmental Instructor.
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