Grandmaster (chess)

Grandmaster (GM) is a title awarded to chess players by the world chess organization FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain.

Once achieved, the title is generally held for life, though exceptionally it may be revoked for cheating. The abbreviation IGM for International Grandmaster is also sometimes used, particularly in older literature.

The title of Grandmaster, along with the lesser FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and FIDE Master (FM), is open to both men and women. The vast majority of grandmasters are men, but a number of women have also earned the GM title, with the first three having been Nona Gaprindashvili in 1978, Maia Chiburdanidze in 1984[1] and Susan Polgar in 1991. Since about 2000, most of the top 10 women have held the GM title. There is also a Woman Grandmaster title with lower requirements awarded only to women.

FIDE awards separate Grandmaster titles to composers and solvers of chess problems, International Grandmaster for chess compositions to the former and International Solving Grandmaster to the latter (see List of grandmasters for chess composition). The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) awards the title of International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (ICCGM).


The first known use of the term grandmaster in connection with chess was in an 1838 issue of Bell's Life, in which a correspondent referred to William Lewis as "our past grandmaster".[2] Lewis himself later referred to Philidor as a grandmaster, and the term was also applied to a few other players.[2]

Early tournament use

Tarrasch 72
Siegbert Tarrasch (1862–1934)

In the Ostend tournament of 1907 the term grandmaster (Großmeister in German) was used. The tournament was divided into two sections: the Championship Tournament and the Masters' Tournament. The Championship section was for players who had previously won an international tournament.[3] Siegbert Tarrasch won the Championship section, over Carl Schlechter, Dawid Janowski, Frank Marshall, Amos Burn, and Mikhail Chigorin. These players were described as grandmasters for the purposes of the tournament.

The San Sebastián 1912 tournament won by Akiba Rubinstein was a designated grandmaster event.[2] Rubinstein won with 12½ points out of 19. Tied for second with 12 points were Aron Nimzowitsch and Rudolf Spielmann.[4]

By some accounts, in the St. Petersburg 1914 chess tournament, the title "Grandmaster" was formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II, who had partially funded the tournament.[3] The Tsar reportedly awarded the title to the five finalists: Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Frank Marshall. Chess historian Edward Winter has questioned this, stating that the earliest known sources that support this story are an article by Robert Lewis Taylor in the June 15, 1940, issue of The New Yorker and Marshall's autobiography My 50 Years of Chess (1942).[5][6][7]

Informal and Soviet usage before 1950

Before 1950, the term grandmaster was sometimes informally applied to world class players. The Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE, or World Chess Federation) was formed in Paris in 1924, but at that time did not award formal titles.

In 1927, the Soviet Union's Chess Federation established the title of Grandmaster of the Soviet Union, for their own players, since at that time Soviets were not competing outside their own country. This title was abolished in 1931, after having been awarded to Boris Verlinsky, who won the 1929 Soviet Championship.[8] The title was brought back in 1935, and awarded to Mikhail Botvinnik, who thus became the first "official" Grandmaster of the USSR. Verlinsky did not get his title back.[8]

Official status (1950 onwards)

Akiba Rubinstein (1880–1961)

When FIDE reorganized after World War II it adopted regulations concerning international titles. Titles were awarded by a resolution of the FIDE General Assembly and the Qualification Committee, with no formal written criteria. FIDE first awarded the Grandmaster title in 1950 to 27 players. These players were:

Since FIDE did not award the Grandmaster title posthumously, world-class players who died prior to 1950, including World Champions Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, and Alekhine, never received the title.[9]

1953 regulations

Jacques Mieses (monochrome)
Jacques Mieses (1865–1954), one of the first FIDE Grandmasters

Title awards under the original regulations were subject to political concerns. Efim Bogoljubov, who had emigrated from the Soviet Union to Germany, was not entered in the first class of Grandmasters, even though he had played two matches for the World Championship with Alekhine. He received the title in 1951, by a vote of thirteen to eight with five abstentions. Yugoslavia supported his application, but all other Communist countries opposed it. In 1953, FIDE abolished the old regulations, although a provision was maintained that allowed older masters who had been overlooked to be awarded titles. The new regulations awarded the title of International Grandmaster of the FIDE to players meeting any of the following criteria:[10]

  1. The world champion.
  2. Masters who have the absolute right to play in the World Championship Candidates Tournament, or any player who replaces an absent contestant and earns at least a 50 percent score.
  3. The winner of an international tournament meeting specified standards, and any player placing second in two such tournaments within a span of four years. The tournament must be at least eleven rounds with seven or more players, 80 percent or more being International Grandmasters or International Masters. Additionally, 30 percent of the players must be Grandmasters who have the absolute right to play in the next World Championship Candidates Tournament, or who have played in such a tournament in the previous ten years.
  4. A player who demonstrates ability manifestly equal to that of (3) above in an international tournament or match. Such titles must be approved by the Qualification Committee with the support of at least five members.

1957 regulations

After FIDE issued the 1953 title regulations, it was recognized that they were somewhat haphazard, and work began to revise the regulations. The FIDE Congress in Vienna in 1957 adopted new regulations, called the FAV system, in recognition of the work done by International Judge Giovanni Ferrantes (Italy), Alexander (probably Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander), and Giancarlo Dal Verme (Italy). Under the 1957 regulations, the title of International Grandmaster of the FIDE was automatically awarded to:

  1. The world champion.
  2. Any player qualifying from the Interzonal tournament to play in the Candidates Tournament, even if he did not play in the Candidates for any reason.
  3. Any player who would qualify from the Interzonal to play in the Candidates but who was excluded because of a limitation on the number of participants from his Federation.
  4. Any player who actually plays in a Candidates Tournament and scores at least 33⅓ percent.

The regulations also allowed titles to be awarded by a FIDE Congress on recommendation by the Qualification Committee. Recommendations were based on performance in qualifying tournaments, with the required score depending on the percentage of Grandmasters and International Masters in the tournament.[11]

1965 regulations

Concerns were raised that the 1957 regulations were too lax. At the FIDE Congress in 1961, GM Milan Vidmar said that the regulations "made it possible to award international titles to players without sufficient merit". At the 1964 Congress in Tel Aviv, a subcommittee was formed to propose changes to the regulations. The subcommittee recommended that the automatic award of titles be abolished, criticized the methods used for awarding titles based on qualifying performances, and called for a change in the makeup of the Qualification Committee. Several delegates supported the subcommittee recommendations, including GM Miguel Najdorf who felt that existing regulations were leading to an inflation of international titles.[11] At the 1965 Congress in Wiesbaden FIDE raised the standards required for international titles. The International Grandmaster title regulations were:

  • 1. Any World Champion is automatically awarded the GM title
  • 2a. Anyone who scores at least 40 percent in a quarter-final match in the Candidates Tournament
  • 2b. Scores at least the number of points in a tournament corresponding to the total of a 55 percent score against Grandmasters plus 75 percent against International Masters (IM) plus 85 percent against other players (a GM "norm").

To fulfill requirement 2b, the candidate must score one GM norm in a category 1a tournament or two norms within a three-year period in two Category 1b tournaments, or one Category 2a tournament and one Category 1b tournament.

The categories of tournaments are:

  • 1a—at least sixteen players, at least 50 percent are GMs, and 70 percent at least IMs
  • 1b—at least twelve players, at least 33⅓ percent GMs and 70 percent IMs
  • 2a—at least fifteen players, at least 50 percent IMs
  • 2b—ten to fourteen players, at least 50 percent IMs.

Since FIDE titles are for life, a GM or IM does not count for the purposes of this requirement if he had not had a GM or IM result in the five years prior to the tournament.

In addition, no more than 50 percent plus one of the players can be from the same country for tournaments of 10 to 12 players, or no more than 50 percent plus two for larger tournaments.

Seventy-four GM titles were awarded in 1951 through 1968. During that period, ten GM titles were awarded in 1965, but only one in 1966 and in 1968.[12]

1970 regulations

The modern system for awarding FIDE titles evolved from the "Dorazil" proposals, presented to the 1970 Siegen Chess Olympiad FIDE Congress. The proposals were put together by Dr Wilfried Dorazil (then FIDE Vice-President) and fellow Committee members Grandmaster Svetozar Gligorić and Professor Arpad Elo. The recommendations of the Committee report were adopted in full.[13]

In essence, the proposals built on the work done by Professor Elo in devising his Elo rating system. The establishment of an updated list of players and their Elo rating enabled significantly strong international chess tournaments to be allocated a "Category", based on the average rating of the contestants. For instance, it was decided that 'Category 1' status would apply to tournaments with an average Elo rating of participants falling within the range 2251–2275; similarly Category 2 would apply to the range 2276–2300 etc. The higher the tournament Category, the stronger the tournament.

Another vital component involved the setting of meritorious "scores" for each Category of tournament. A player must meet or surpass the relevant score to demonstrate that they had performed at Grandmaster (GM) or International Master (IM) level. Scores were expressed as percentages of a perfect maximum score and decreased as the tournament Category increased, thereby reflecting the strength of a player's opposition and the relative difficulty of the task.

Tournament organisers could then apply the percentages to their own tournament format and declare in advance the actual score that participants must achieve to attain a GM or IM result (nowadays referred to as a norm).

Cat. Avg. Elo Score (GM) Score (IM)
1 2251–2275 85% 76%
2 2276–2300 83% 73%
3 2301–2325 81% 70%
4 2326–2350 78% 67%
5 2351–2375 76% 64%
Cat. Avg. Elo Score (GM) Score (IM)
6 2376–2400 73% 60%
7 2401–2425 70% 57%
8 2426–2450 67% 53%
9 2451–2475 64% 50%
10 2476–2500 60% 47%
Cat. Avg. Elo Score (GM) Score (IM)
11 2501–2525 57% 43%
12 2526–2550 53% 40%
13 2551–2575 50% 36%
14 2576–2600 47% 33%
15 2601–2625 43% 30%

To qualify for the Grandmaster title, a player needed to achieve three such GM results within a rolling period of three years. Exceptionally, if a player's contributory games totalled thirty or more, then the title could be awarded on the basis of two such results. There were also circumstances where the system could be adapted to fit team events and other competitions.

The full proposals included many other rules and regulations, covering such topics as:

  • Eligible tournament formats
  • Eligible participants
  • Unrated participants
  • Registration of tournaments with FIDE
  • Calculations, including the handling of fractions

Honorary grandmasters

From 1977 until 2003, FIDE awarded honorary Grandmaster titles to 31 players based on their past performances or other contributions to chess. Since 2007, no distinction has been made between an "honorary" grandmaster and a full grandmaster. The following players have been awarded honorary Grandmaster titles:

Current regulations

The requirements for becoming a Grandmaster are rather complex. A player must have attained an Elo rating of at least 2500 (although they need not maintain this level to obtain or keep the title). In addition, at least two favorable results (called norms) from a total of at least 27 games in tournaments involving at least three other Grandmasters, including some from countries other than the applicant's, are usually required before FIDE will confer the title on a player. There are other milestones a player can achieve to get the title, such as winning the Women's World Championship, the World Junior Championship, or the World Senior Championship. Current regulations can be found in the FIDE Handbook.[14]

Title inflation

Although the qualifications for obtaining the grandmaster title are similar to those adopted in 1970, concern has been expressed that the title is not as meaningful now as it was in the past.[15][16][17] According to Macieja,[15] it is difficult to gauge meaningfulness: although the number of grandmasters had increased greatly between 1972 and 2008, the number of registered players had increased even faster.

See also


  1. ^ Administrator. "Chiburdanidze, Maia FIDE Chess Profile - Players Arbiters Trainers".
  2. ^ a b c Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (2 ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 156, ISBN 978-0-19-280049-7
  3. ^ a b Sunnucks 1970, p. 223
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  5. ^ Winter, Edward (1999), Kings, Commoners and Knaves: Further Chess Explorations (1 ed.), Russell Enterprises, Inc., pp. 315–316, ISBN 978-1-888690-04-0
  6. ^ Winter, Edward (2003), A Chess Omnibus (1 ed.), Russell Enterprises, Inc., pp. 177–178, ISBN 978-1-888690-17-0
  7. ^ "Chess Notes by Edward Winter". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b Cafferty, Bernard; Taimanov, Mark (1998), The Soviet Championships (1 ed.), Cadogan Books, pp. 28–29, ISBN 978-1-85744-201-4
  9. ^ Elo, Arpad (1978), The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present, Arco, p. 66, ISBN 978-0-668-04721-0
  10. ^ Harkness, Kenneth (1956), The Official Blue Book and Encyclopedia of Chess, David McKay Company, pp. 332–336, LCCN 56014153, OCLC 1578704
  11. ^ a b Harkness, Kenneth (1967), Official Chess Handbook, David McKay Company, pp. 211–214, LCCN 66013085, OCLC 728637
  12. ^ Sunnucks 1970, pp. 224–226
  13. ^ Keene, Raymond; Levy, David (1970), Siegen Chess Olympiad (1 ed.), Chess Ltd, Sutton Coldfield, pp. 238–240
  14. ^ FIDE Handbook - FIDE Title Regulations effective from 1 July 2017,
  15. ^ a b Macieja, Bartlomiej (December 17, 2008), ACP Report by GM Bartlmiej Macieja,, retrieved 2019-02-15
  16. ^ Remarks on the ACP's FIDE Congress report, Nick Faulks, Chessbase, December 24, 2008
  17. ^ Silver, Albert (June 26, 2013), "'A GM is a GM'? – FIDE title devaluation",, retrieved 2019-02-15


  • Sunnucks, Anne (1970), The Encyclopaedia of Chess, St. Martins Press, ISBN 978-0-7091-4697-1

External links

Arthur Bisguier

Arthur Bernard Bisguier (October 8, 1929 – April 5, 2017) was an American chess grandmaster, chess promoter, and writer.

Bisguier won two U.S. Junior Championships (1948, 1949), three U.S. Open Chess Championship titles (1950, 1956, 1959), and the 1954 United States Chess Championship title. He played for the United States in five chess Olympiads. He also played in two Interzonal tournaments (1955, 1962).

On March 18, 2005, the United States Chess Federation (USCF) proclaimed him "Dean of American Chess."

David Norwood

David Robert Norwood (born 3 October 1968) is an English businessman who runs an investment fund that finances spin-off companies from Oxford University science departments. He is also a chess grandmaster, chess writer, former captain of the English chess team and now represents Andorra at chess.


Emre is a Turkish male given name. It may refer to:

Emre Altuğ (born 1970), Turkish musician

Emre Aracı (born 1968), Turkish music historian, conductor, composer

Emre Aydın (born 1981), Turkish rock singer

Emre Aşık (born 1973), Turkish footballer

Emre Zafer Barnes (born 1988), Jamaican-Turkish sprinter

Emre Bayav (born 1987), Turkish basketball player

Emre Belözoğlu (born 1980), Turkish footballer

Emre Can (born 1994), German-Turkish footballer

Emre Can (chess player) (born 1990), Turkish Grandmaster chess player

Emre Çolak (born 1991), Turkish footballer

Emre Elivar (born 1976), Turkish concert pianist

Emre Gönensay (born 1937), Turkish politician

Emre Güngör (born 1984), Turkish footballer

Emre Güral (born 1989), Turkish footballer

Emre Gürbüz (born 1991), Turkish footballer

Emre İşçiler (born 1989), Turkish footballer

Emre Kartari, Turkish jazz percussionist

Emre Korkmaz (born 1986), Turkish actor

Emre Kızılkaya (born 1982), Turkish journalist

Emre Miyasoğlu (born 1981), Turkish writer

Emre Nefiz (born 1994), Turkish footballer

Emre Ozdemir (born 1981), Turkish editorial cartoonist and illustrator

Emre Özkan (born 1988), Turkish footballer

Emre Öztürk (footballer) (born 1986), German footballer

Emre Sabuncuoğlu (born 1976), Turkish classical guitarist

Emre Sahin, Turkish director

Emre Şimşek (born 1987), Turkish alpine skier

Emre Taner (born 1942), Turkish civil servant

Emre Torun (born 1993), Turkish footballer

Emre Ünver (born 1981), Dutch politician

Emre Yüksektepe (born 1991), Turkish footballer

FIDE titles

The World Chess Federation, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), awards several performance-based titles to chess players, up to and including the highly prized Grandmaster 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. Open titles may be earned by all players, whilst the women's titles are restricted to female players. A strong female player may have a title in both systems.

A chess title, usually in an abbreviated form, may be used as an honorific. For example, Viswanathan Anand may be styled as "GM Viswanathan Anand".

FIDE has also implemented online titles including AGM (Arena grand master), AIM (arena international master), AFM (Arena FIDE Master) and ACM (Arena Candidate Master). These are permanent and are typically for slightly lower levelled players and can only be achieved through the FIDE Online Arena.

Grandmaster Chess

Grandmaster Chess is a 1992 video game to play chess for PC DOS platform develop by IntraCorp and its subsidiary Capstone that was focused on neural network technology and an artificial intelligence (AI) able to learn from mistakes.Capable of using VGA and SVGA modes, features multiple skill levels, different sets of pieces, boards and backgrounds, 2D/3D view, pull-down menus, move list with VCR style control, able to analysis moves and games and rate the user strength. Originally it was distributed in floppy discs, but in 1993 in appeared in CD-ROM. This release only relevant addition was the Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Chess Wars package, an animated chess set like Battle Chess video game representing the Terminator 2: Judgment Day movie.

Harry Golombek

Harry Golombek OBE (1 March 1911 – 7 January 1995), was a British chess grandmaster, chess arbiter, chess author, and wartime codebreaker. He was three times British chess champion, in 1947, 1949, and 1955 and finished second in 1948. He was retrospectively awarded the grandmaster title in 1985.He was born in Lambeth to Polish-Jewish parents. He was the chess correspondent of The Times newspaper from 1945 to 1989, following Stuart Milner-Barry. He was an official of the FIDE, and served as Arbiter for several important events, including the Candidates' Tournament of 1959 in Yugoslavia, and the World Chess Championship match 1963 between Mikhail Botvinnik and Tigran Petrosian. He was also editor of some well-known collections of games such as José Raúl Capablanca's and Réti's, and was a well-respected author. He was editor of British Chess Magazine from 1938 to 1940, and its overseas editor throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Golombek also translated several chess books from Russian into English.

On the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Golombek was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, competing in the Chess Olympiad for Britain alongside C. H. O'D. Alexander and Stuart Milner-Barry. They immediately returned to the UK, and were soon recruited into Bletchley Park, the wartime codebreaking centre. Golombek worked in Hut 8, the section responsible for solving German Naval Enigma, moving to another section in October/November 1942. After the war he lived at 35 Albion Crescent, Chalfont St Giles. He was unusual among public figures in replying with care to letters from unknown persons, such as young schoolboys, from this address.

Golombek represented England nine times in chess Olympiads. He earned the title of International Master in 1950 and was awarded an HonoraryGrandmaster title in 1985. He was the first British player to qualify for an Interzonal tournament.

Golombek studied philology at King's College London, having been a pupil at Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell. He was appointed OBE in 1966, the first to be so honoured for services to chess.

Ilaha Kadimova

Ilaha Kadimova (Azerbaijani: İlahə Qədimova; born November 5, 1975) is an Azerbaijani Woman Grandmaster chess player.

She won the World Youth Chess Championship (Girls) in 1992 and 1993.She is a Woman Grandmaster (1994).

Jon Speelman

Jonathan Simon Speelman (born 2 October 1956) is an English Grandmaster chess player, mathematician and chess writer.

Konstantin Sakaev

Konstantin Rufovich Sakaev (Russian: Константи́н Ру́фович Сака́ев; born 13 April 1974 in Leningrad) is a Russian chess Grandmaster (1993), chess author and Russian champion in 1999. Sakaev is on the staff of the Grandmaster Chess School in St. Petersburg and has assisted Vladimir Kramnik and Nana Ioseliani while preparing for World Championship Candidates' Matches.He was born in a Tatar family.

Luděk Pachman

Luděk Pachman (German: Ludek Pachmann, May 11, 1924 in Bělá pod Bezdězem, today Czech Republic – March 6, 2003 in Passau, Germany) was a Czechoslovak-German chess grandmaster, chess writer, and political activist. In 1972, after being imprisoned and tortured almost to death by the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, he was allowed to emigrate to West Germany. He lived the remainder of his life there, and resumed his chess career with considerable success, including playing in the Interzonal in 1976 and winning the West German Championship in 1978.

Matthew Sadler

Matthew Sadler (born 15 May 1974) is an English chess grandmaster, chess writer and two-time British Chess Champion. He is the No. 2 ranked English player as of February 2018.

Milan Vidmar

Milan Vidmar (22 June 1885 – 9 October 1962) was a Slovene electrical engineer, chess Grandmaster, chess theorist, chess arbiter, philosopher, and writer. He was among the top dozen chess players in the world from 1910 to 1930. He was a specialist in power transformers and transmission of electric current.

Narmin Kazimova

Narmin Kazimova (Azerbaijani: Nərmin Kazımova; born August 28, 1993) is an Azerbaijani Woman Grandmaster chess player.

She won the World Youth Chess Championship (Girls) in 2010.She is a Woman Grandmaster (2015).

Nigel Davies (chess player)

Nigel Davies (born 1960) is an English chess Grandmaster, chess coach and writer.

Davies won the British (Under-21) Boys Championship in 1979 and the British Rapidplay Chess Championship in 1987.

In July 2015 Davies transferred his FIDE registration from England to Wales and will become eligible to represent them internationally.Davies is also a keen practitioner of Tai Chi and Qigong, and is a registered instructor with the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain.

Nino Maisuradze

Nino Maisuradze (Georgian : ნინო მაისურაძე), is a Woman Grandmaster chess player and two-time French Women's Chess Champion.

Piatigorsky Cup

The Piatigorsky Cup was a triennial series of double round-robin grandmaster chess tournaments held in the United States in the 1960s. Sponsored by the Piatigorsky Foundation, only two events were held, in 1963 and 1966. The Piatigorsky Cups were the strongest U.S. chess tournaments since New York 1927.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky (née Rothschild) was married to cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. One of the strongest woman chess players in the U.S. and a regular competitor in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship, she designed the cup and was the primary organizer of the tournament. The prize funds were among the largest of any chess tournament up to that time. Every player was guaranteed a prize and all traveling and living expenses were paid.

Richard Réti

Richard Selig Réti (28 May 1889, Bazin (now Pezinok) – 6 June 1929, Prague) was an Austro-Hungarian, later Czechoslovak chess grandmaster, chess author, and composer of endgame studies.

He was one of the principal proponents of hypermodernism in chess. With the exception of Nimzowitsch's book My System, he is considered to be the movement's foremost literary contributor.

Robert Hübner

Robert Hübner (born November 6, 1948) is a German chess grandmaster, chess writer, and papyrologist. He was one of the world's leading players in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Wang Pin

Wang Pin (Chinese: 王频; born December 11, 1974) is a Chinese Woman Grandmaster chess player. She is currently inactive and she used to be the 6th highest rate female player in January to April 2001. Her peak rating was 2506 in October 2000 to January 2001. In 2002, she became Chinese Women's National Chess Champion.

Wang competed for the China national chess team four times at the Women's Chess Olympiads (1992, 1996–1998, 2002) with an overall record of 35 games played (+14, =15, -6), and once at the Women's Asian Team Chess Championship (1999) with an overall record of 3 games played (+1, =2, -0).


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