Grandmaster (GM)

Grandmaster (GM)

We have all heard the term "grandmaster," but what exactly does it mean? How does someone attain this title? Who awards the title? Let's answer all of these questions and more.

Here is what you need to know about the grandmaster (GM) title: 


Who Is A Chess Grandmaster?

Aside from the title of world champion, the GM title is the highest that a chess player can achieve—once earned, the title is held for life. It is awarded by the International Chess Federation, FIDE. GMs are the strongest chess players in the world, and even very talented players must prove themselves in difficult tournaments to achieve the title. 

Lots of GMs play on Chess.com daily. You can find them playing in live chess, view their games at Chess.com/games, and read about them at Chess.com/players.

Top grandmasters in the world.
All of the top players in the world are GMs.

How Do You Earn The Grandmaster Title?

The first GM titles were awarded to 27 players in 1950, and the qualifications to become a GM have changed throughout the years. FIDE currently awards the title of GM to a player who achieves a 2500 FIDE classical (or 'standard') rating and three GM norms. 

Each GM norm is extremely difficult to attain, and there are many rules for what constitutes a norm. In essence, you need a 2600+ performance rating in a nine-round FIDE tournament, and several of your opponents must be from federations/countries other than your own and also be titled (other rules and restrictions can be found in FIDE's handbook)—this is for one norm. If you want to pursue this very prestigious title, do not forget to check out our article on How To Become A Chess Grandmaster‎!

It seems fitting that such a prestigious chess title would have the most difficult steps to achieve it. As of May 2020 there were just 1,770 active GMs—a tiny, tiny fraction of the millions of chess aficionados worldwide.

Although a completely unofficial term, "super-grandmaster" or "super-GM" refers to a player with a 2700+ FIDE rating.

Super-GM Hikaru Nakamura.
Super-GM Hikaru Nakamura. Photo: Andreas Kontokanis/Wikimedia, CC.

How To Identify And Locate Grandmasters on Chess.com

It is easy to identify GMs and other titled players on Chess.com. If a player is titled, a title is next to their username.

You can read about top GMs from the past and present at Chess.com/players, and can often find them playing in Live Chess. Once in Live Chess, select "Events" below the game console.

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

You can choose a GM you want to watch or follow from the list above. You can find tournament reports for GMs at Chess.com/news and watch videos created by GMs at Chess.com/lessons.

Grandmaster Records

There are lots of records held by GMs, and those who are soon to become GMs. Here are some fun facts and records relevant to GMs:

  • In 2020 Russia had the most GMs with 256.
  • The youngest player to defeat a GM in tournament play is currently Awonder Liang (who later became a GM). When he was nine years and three months old, he defeated GM Larry Kaufman.
  • GM Bobby Fischer holds the record of 20 consecutive wins against world-class competition.
  • GM Sergey Karjakin was the youngest player to achieve the grandmaster title at 12 years and seven months old. Check out other young chess prodigies throughout history in our article about The Youngest Chess Grandmasters In History‎.
Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin.
GM Sergey Karjakin. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Conclusion

You now know what the GM title is, what it means, and how to attain it. Head over to Live Chess and observe GMs playing right now. You can also check out the world's strongest GMs at Chess.com/players. Enjoy this new knowledge, and may it be your first step towards a chess title of your own!