FIDE Chess Titles

Are you wondering about the requirements for becoming a chess grandmaster? This article describes how to obtain official chess titles.

Chess titles are lifetime titles for the best players specific by the world chess organization FIDE. Click here to see a discussion of the background of chess titles.

Here is a rough sketch of titles with relation to ratings:

Title FIDE Rating
Elite/Super Grandmaster (non-official) 2700
International Grandmaster (GM) 2500
International Master (IM) 2400
Woman International Grandmaster (WGM), FIDE Master (FM)* 2300
Woman International Master (WIM), Candidate Master (CM)* 2200
Woman FIDE Master (WFM)* 2100
Woman Candidate Master (WCM)* 2000


* Title can be gained by achieving the relevant rating at some point (even in the middle of a tournament, before the tournament is finished). Other titles are typically obtained by achieving the relevant rating and earnings three “norms”.

There also exists Honorary Grandmaster and Honorary Master titles, given under exceptional circumstances.

Chess International Grandmaster (GM)

The player must achieve three norms under the following conditions and have a rating of at least 2500 some point after the first GM norm was achieved.

In order to achieve a GM norm in a 9 round tournament, you have to do the following:

1. Play at least three GMs and five titleholders, no more than two players may be without a FIDE-ELO rating (including yourself).
2. Play against players from at least three federations, and no more than six from the same federation (including yourself).
3. Score at least 7/9 against an ELO-average of at least 2381, 6.5/9 against at least 2435 or 6/9 against at least 2476. Eventually, opponents without FIDE-ELO
are counted as 2250 (previously 2000).

Players can also obtain norms of more than 9 rounds, provided that they achieve a 2601 performance rating.

Special ways of achieving the Chess Grandmaster title

The GM title will be awarded if you:

1. Reach the last 16 in the World Championship
2. Win the World Women’s Championship
3. Win the World U-20 Championship
4. Win the World Senior Championship

Chess International Master (IM)

In order to achieve an IM norm in a 9 round tournament, you have to do is:1) Play at least three IMs and five titleholders, no more than two players may be without a FIDE-ELO rating (including yourself)
2) Play against players from at least three federations, and no more than six from the same federation (including yourself)
3) Score at least 7/9 against an ELO-average of at least 2231, 6.5/9 against at least 2285, 6/9 against at least 2326, 5.5/9 against at least 2371, 5/9 against at least 2407, 4.5/9 against at least 2451 or 4/9 against at least 2494. Eventually opponents without FIDE-ELO are counted as 2100 (previously 2000).

Players can also obtain norms of more than 9 rounds, provided that they achieve a 2451 performance rating.

The normal way of getting the IM title is by getting three of these norms, in at least 27 games (details same as with the GM title). You will also need a FIDE rating of at least 2400 on some point after the first IM norm was achieved. As above, the IM title can be awarded if the 2400 border was passed during a tournament.

Special ways of achieving the Chess International Master title

1. Qualifying for the World Championship
2. Runner-up in World Women’s Championship
3. Silver or bronze in World U-20 Championship
4. Silver in the World Senior Championship
5. Win the Continental Senior Championship
5. 1st, up to 3 in Continental Championship, Continental U-20 Championship, Arab Championship, Arab U-20 Championship, Centroamerican-Caribbean U-20, Southern American U-20, World U-18 Championship, Commonwealth Championship, Zonal or sub-zonal tournaments, IBCA Championship, ICSC Championship or IPCA Championship.

Chess FIDE Master (FM)

For the FM title you need a rating of at least 2300 and to pay a fee to FIDE. The fee is currently about 100 Swiss Francs (to see the conversion rate, type in “100 Swiss Francs in USD” into Google, replacing USD with your country’s currency), but is sometimes paid by the national federation the player belongs to. Some tournaments also award them, but there are too many to mention.

Chess Woman Grandmaster (WGM)

For the WGM title you need three norms with a performance of 2400, and a rating of at least 2300. The details are basically the same as with the GM title.

Chess Woman International Master (WIM)

The WIM title requires a performance of at least 2250 and a rating of at least 2200. Details are similar to International Master.

Chess Woman FIDE Master (WFM)

For the WFM title you need a rating of at least 2100 and to pay a fee to FIDE. Details are similar to FIDE Master.

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