Chess Terms
International Master (IM)

International Master (IM)

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

Here is what you need to know about the IM title: 


Who Is An International Master?

Ranking just below the title of world champion and grandmaster, the IM title is a high recognition that a chess player can achieve—once earned, the title is held for life. It is awarded by the International Chess Federation, FIDE.

IMs are very strong chess players, and even highly talented players must prove themselves in difficult tournaments to achieve the title. In general, IMs are usually rated between 2400 and 2500 for classical FIDE ratings. Lots of IMs play on Chess.com daily. You can find them playing in Live Chess and view their games at Chess.com/games. 

IMs compete in many high-profile events such as open tournaments, closed norm tournaments, as well as online tournaments like Titled Tuesday. For example, in April-May 2020 Chess.com sponsored the IM Not A GM Speed Chess Chess Championship.

International master
IM John Bartholomew won the IM Not A GM Speed Chess Championship in 2020.

How Do You Earn The International Master Title?

The first IM titles were awarded in 1950, and the qualifications to become an IM have changed throughout the years. FIDE currently awards the title of IM to a player who achieves a 2400 FIDE classical (or "standard") rating and three IM norms. 

Each IM norm is extremely difficult to attain, and there are many rules for what constitutes a norm. In essence, you need a 2450+ 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. 

As of 2020 there are roughly 3,800 active IMs—a small percentage of the millions of chess players worldwide. The current record for the youngest IM is held by IM Abhimanyu Mishra, who attained the title at the age of 10 years, nine months and three days. There are many well-known IMs in the chess world, but perhaps none are more famous than our very own IM, Danny Rensch!

IM Danny Rensch
Chess.com's Danny Rensch is a well-known IM.

How To Identify And Locate International Masters On Chess.com

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

As mentioned, you can often find IMs playing in Live Chess and in events like Titled Tuesday. Once in Live Chess, select "Events" below the game console to observe IMs.

International masters playing on Chess.com.
Watch IMs play live on Chess.com!
You can choose an IM you want to watch or follow from the list above. You can find tournament reports for IMs at Chess.com/news and watch videos created by IMs at Chess.com/lessons.

Conclusion

You now know what the IM title is, what it means, and how to attain it. Head over to Live Chess and observe IMs playing right now. Enjoy this new knowledge, and may it be your first step towards a chess title of your own!