Chess Terms
National Master (NM)

National Master (NM)

We have all heard the term "grandmaster," but do you know that there is also the national master (NM) title? 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 NM title: 

What Is The National Master Title?

The national master title (abbreviated as NM) is a special title, as it is not recognized by the International Chess Federation. As the title suggests, it is a master title that is awarded by national federations.

Not every chess federation awards this title, but several large federations do. In general, federations that award the NM title do so to players who achieve a national rating of 2200—although there are exceptions as well, which are discussed below.

Who Is A National Master?

The chess world has many well-known NMs, including the legendary coach/author NM Bruce Pandolfini;'s VP of Content, NM Sam Copeland; popular chess streamer and content creator NM Kevin Bordi;'s Director of Lessons Content, NM Jeremy Kane; Twitch streamer and commentator NM James Canty, and many more. 

Lots of NMs play on in Live Chess every day and also compete in many events like Titled Tuesday

candidate master CM
NMs and other titled players compete in Titled Tuesday tournaments on

How Do You Earn The National Master Title?

As mentioned, the NM title is not a FIDE title and isn't awarded by every chess federation. Each federation that has this title also has different ways to qualify for it. The U.S. Chess Federation awards the NM title to players for life once they reach a 2200 rating. The English Chess Federation awards the NM title to players who reach a 200 ECF grade (roughly equivalent to a 2250 rating).

In addition, the Chess Federation of Canada awards the NM title to players who reach a 2200 national rating and also achieve three norms (2300+ tournament performances). The New Zealand Chess Federation uses a points system in their national tournaments and other events. A player who achieves 100 points in their events earns this title, although not many players have attained this goal. 

Many other federations once had their own master titles but stopped for various reasons.

NM Bojan Lukajic was the August 2019 coach of the month.

How To Identify And Locate National Masters On

It is easy to identify NMs and other titled players on If a player is titled, then their title is displayed to the left of their username in red letters.

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

Candidate master
Watch NMs play live on


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

Explore More Chess Terms