Grandmaster in Chess

Oct 12, 2009, 12:39 AM |

The title Grandmaster is awarded to strong 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 held for life. In chess literature it is usually abbreviated to GM (similarly, FM stands for FIDE Master and IM for International Master). The abbreviation IGM for International Grandmaster can also sometimes be found, particularly in older literature.

GM, IM, and FM are open to both men and women. 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. A separate gender-segregated title, WGM for Woman Grandmaster, is also available, but is something of a misnomer. It is awarded to women who attain a level of skill between that of a FIDE Master and an International Master.

The requirements for becoming a Grandmaster are somewhat complex. A player must have an Elo rating of at least 2500 at one time (although they need not maintain this level to keep the title). A rating of 2400 or higher is required to become an International Master. In addition, at least two favorable results (called norms) in tournaments involving 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 may be found in the FIDE Handbook.

Due to this title inflation, most grandmasters today are not world-class players, and there is a wide disparity in playing strength between the highest-rated (around 2800 Elo rating) and lowest-rated grandmasters (around 2500, and often lower for elderly grandmasters). In order to differentiate the best players from lesser grandmasters, a top-level grandmaster is sometimes informally called a "super-grandmaster". The term is unofficial, and has no generally accepted definition. One possible definition of a "super-grandmaster" is one who is rated above 2700. Another would be a player who is a perennial threat to win the strongest yearly tournaments and who is a viable world championship contender.

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