Becoming a "National Master"


I know I've joked about on here about getting a corrupt third-world country to set up a puppet national chess organization to grant anyone it chooses a "National Master" (NM) title. 

I can't possibly have been the first person to think of this idea.  That this ever happened?  And would the title really mean anything, or would the title ultimately have to be ratified by FIDE? 


There's only one way to find out


I was excited when I read the title that it might contain suggestions on how to study to be a national master, or someone's story of achieving the title, or something like that. Boy was I disappointed. Frown


If you don't care about the actual capability the title conveys, why bribe a corrupt government? Just buy a certificate from a forger. I'm sure you can get one for a very small investment. 


Because a "national master" title from a corrupt government will still be a genuine title, even if it is from a corrupt government or an oppressive dictatorship.  Something from a forger will be totally fake, with no merit whatever. 

Shadowknight911 wrote:

trying to go to some obscure country and granting yourself a master title is about the same as setting up your own lemonade stand and calling yourself president of a company, then making business cards for it.

Well, it might be analogous to setting up your own lemonade stand and calling yourself the president, but it is not the same.  What I'm talking about is still on an international level and would require a bit more cash, savvy, and connections than opening a lemonade stand. 

What I'm talking about is bribing or otherwise influencing the ruling government of a sovereign state (whether legitimately elected or not -- that's not the point) to grant you a "National Master" title.  My question was twofold 1) has anyone ever thought of this?  and 2) do the various "national masters" around the world have to be approved by FIDE under some normalized worldwide standards, OR can each nation select its NM's however they wish?

Since FIDE is run by third world crackpots I'm guessing the latter is the case indeed.


"National Master" is a domestic title, so FIDE has no say as to who can or cannot become a National Master.  Likewise, FIDE probably doesn't really care if someone has achieved National Master in their own country unless they've proved themselves on the international circuit.


Cool, so under that regimen then my idea would totally work then. 


Well, based on some research I did, it seems like most nations have a national chess federation affiliated with FIDE.  The USCF is a confederated affiliate of FIDE that regulates chess in the USA, for instance. 

The FIDE website has a pretty cool interactive world map on which nations have FIDE afflilates, along with some key info about them.

Now, you'll notice that the vast majority of nations have official national chess organizations affiliated with FIDE.  In fact, the only nation in the Americas without an FIDE affiliate is French Guiana.  I also didn't see those small Caribbean islands like Grenada, Martinique, Gudadeloupe on there either.

There are a smattering of African nations apparently with no offical chess federation, or at least none affliated with FIDE.  When I first came up with this idea, I thought that either Liberia or Cote d'Ivoire would be the perfect candidates for this idea, and lo and behold, neither of those countries have FIDE affiliates.  Equitorial Guinea, a small and notoriously corrupt African nation does not have an FIDE affiliate either.

Neither do Chad, Tanzania, Eritrea, Djibouti, and a few other African nations.  Oddly enough, Greenland doesn't have an FIDE affiliate organization but Greenland has never struck me as a particularly unstable or corrupt country. 

Now, check out what the CIA world factbook has to say about both the Cote d'Ivoire and Equitorial Guinea.  If you want to skip right to the corruption stuff just jump to the "transnational issues" sections:


As Hannibal from the A-Team says, I love it when a plan comes together!  Are you sure no-one has thought of this or done this before?


Oh you're right!  French Guiana is an outre mer department of France.  Duh, I forgot that.  But French Guiana wasn't what I was thinking of for this project.  I'm thinking the best bets are the Ivory Coast, Equitorial Guinea, maybe Liberia, or perhaps one of those small Carribbean island nations.


Yes, "Liberian National Chess Master" would certainly sound good in your resume.


This was touched on in a related thread, but "National Masters" rarely if ever specify from what country they got their title.  All anyone would see is let's say .... "Ken's Mom, NM."  Who actually stops and asks anything further really?  Does anyone go scrutinizing all the titled NMs on this site? 

Although, I think a title like Maitre d'echecs du Cote d'Ivoire certainly has a nice ring to it!


If a national federation is affiliated with FIDE, they won't sell you a master title.  If they aren't, no one else will recognize your title anyway.

But what would be the point?  You're still the same player - it isn't as if everyone won't quickly see you are no legit master once you begin to play.


On another tangent, IM Bill Hook played for years for the US Virgin Islands team for the Olympiad.  He got to play Petrosian, Gligoric, and many other top GMs he would never have been able to play, just by being their top board.  He used to recruit players to play for the team, the government would grant you temporary or honorary citizenship (for many years you could only play for your own country, now you have to register with the federation of the country you wish to play for and cannot represent another in the same cycle).


Oh yeah, that US VI thing was cool!  Getting to play all those geniuses on a regular basis. Smile  I can even vaguely remember somebody trying to talk me into trying that...

johnmusacha wrote:

This was touched on in a related thread, but "National Masters" rarely if ever specify from what country they got their title.  All anyone would see is let's say .... "Ken's Mom, NM."  Who actually stops and asks anything further really?  Does anyone go scrutinizing all the titled NMs on this site? 

My point was that achieving the title in the way that you described would have very little practical benefit.  Without the skills to back up your title, there won't be much that you can do with it aside from adding fluff to your resume.  In things where the title actually matters (chess coaching, authoring chess books, chess tournies, etc.) it would be more important for you to be able to walk the talk.


Well, what if you become an NM in a nation that didn't have a FIDE affiliated national chess federation at the time, but the organization that granted you the title then later became FIDE affiliated?  I'm sure they'd keep everything hush-hush.


And to Ken's Mom, I never said anything about practical benefit, I was just wondering if it was even possible, or if anyone had even thought about the possiblities here.

The title would simply be for "fun," just something to have.  Kinda like having a KCB or some Knightly title doesn't really confer any practical benefit to their titleholders anymore.  It's not like Elton John gets knighted and next day he's living rent-free in a manor house and allowed to ride around in the English countryside killing peasants at will for not doffing their caps and whatnot.


I'll bet he is though.


Says the National Master of Living Island.


Plus I bet a NM from any nation can qualify for a free diamond lifetime membership on this site.  So that's a practical benefit also. 

And I agree with you about Elton John.  And Sir Syd Barrett as well.