Chess Terms
Chess Titles

Chess Titles

Chess titles and titled players are referred to quite often in the chess world, but what is the difference between a master and a grandmaster? Let's learn about the different chess titles and how you can earn them!

Here is what you need to know about chess titles:


What Are Chess Titles?

Chess titles are titles awarded to players based on their skill, performance, and rank. A player who has earned a chess title is often referred to as a "titled player" or by their actual title (e.g., grandmaster). Chess titles are awarded by governing chess bodies and federations. The most prestigious titles are conferred by FIDE, while national federations (like US Chess) also have their own titles. If a player has a title, they are extremely strong players and are likely a master.

All of the top players in the world are grandmasters (GM), but there are many titles before attaining the GM title. Lots of GMs play on Chess.com on a daily basis. You can find them playing in Live Chess, view their games at Chess.com/games, and read about them at Chess.com/players.

chess titles
All of the top players in the world are GMs.

Why Are Chess Titles Important? 

Chess titles indicate the strength of the best players and quickly display the differences between the various types of masters. For example, if you are watching the Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix and see a national master (NM) playing a grandmaster (GM), you would know from the players' titles alone that the GM is the favorite to win the game against an NM.

chess titles
Only titled players may compete in the Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix.

One of the many benefits of becoming a titled player is that you get a lifetime Diamond membership for free on Chess.com! Some of you may be asking, "Well, what are the different titles?" Let's find out!

What Are The Different Chess Titles? 

As mentioned, FIDE awards the most prestigious chess titles. Once earned, these titles are held for life. Here are the eight titles that FIDE awards:

Grandmaster

The highest title awarded in chess (aside from the title of world champion) is the title of grandmaster. In order to achieve this title, a player must reach an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2500 and earn three grandmaster norms in international competition.

chess title
Hikaru Nakamura is a grandmaster. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

International Master

The international master (IM) title is the second most difficult title to attain. To earn this title, a player must reach an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2400 and achieve three international master norms in international competition.

FIDE Master

The FIDE master (FM) title is earned by any player who achieves a classical or standard FIDE rating of 2300 in international competition. No norms are required.

Candidate Master

The candidate master (CM) title is earned by any player who achieves a classical or standard FIDE rating of 2200 in international competition. No norms are required.

Woman Grandmaster

The woman grandmaster (WGM) title is exclusive to women and is earned by achieving an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2300 as well as three WGM norms in international competition.

Woman International Master

The woman international master title is exclusive to women and is earned by achieving an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2200. Three norms are required for the WIM title.

Woman FIDE Master

The woman FIDE master (WFM) title is exclusive to women and is earned by achieving an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2100. No norms are required.

Woman Candidate Master

The woman candidate master (WCM) title is exclusive to women and is earned by achieving an established classical or standard FIDE rating of 2000. No norms are required.

chess titles
Alexandra Botez is a Women's FIDE master as well as a popular chess commentator. Photo: Alexandra Botez via Instagram.

It is important to note that women can earn any title, whether or not it is a woman's title. In cases where a player has earned more than one title (e.g., IM and WGM), it is up to the player to determine which title they use. It is also worth mentioning that some of these titles (e.g., CM, WFM, and WCM) are awarded for strong results in a national or international event and not solely by the rating criteria above.

Chess titles are also awarded by national federations. US Chess, the Chess Federation of Canada, the English Chess Federation, the New Zealand Chess Federation, and other national federations award the title of national master (NM). Most of these federations use a ratings-based system where the NM title is awarded upon reaching a 2200 rating, although some federations differ.

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Sam Copeland, Chess.com's Director of Content, is a US Chess national master. Photo: Columbia Chess.

How To Watch Titled Players On Chess.com 

It is very easy to watch titled players play games on Chess.com. You can easily identify titled players because their titles are displayed next to their usernames. When you want to watch titled players play, go to Live Chess and select "Events" below the game console.

Grandmasters playing on Chess.com.
Watch GMs play live on Chess.com.

Titled players play in many events on Chess.com, and you can select any titled player in Live Chess whom you want to watch or follow from the events tab. You can find tournament reports about titled players at Chess.com/News and can watch videos and lessons created by titled players at Chess.com/lessons.

Conclusion 

You now know what chess titles are, who awards chess titles, what the different chess titles are, how to watch titled players on Chess.com, and more! Head over to Live Chess to watch titled players in action.