The International Chess Federation, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), awards several performance-based titles to chess players, up to and including the highly prized Grandmaster (GM) title. Titles generally require a combination of Elo rating and norms (performance benchmarks in competitions including other titled players). Once awarded, FIDE titles are held for life, though a title may be revoked in exceptional circumstances (for example for cheating). Open titles may be earned by all players, while women's titles are restricted to female players. A strong female player may have a title in both systems.
FIDE's first GMs were:
- Ossip Bernstein (France)
- Isaac Boleslavsky (USSR)
- Igor Bondarevsky (USSR)
- Mikhail Botvinnik (USSR)
- David Bronstein (USSR)
- Oldřich Duras (Czechoslovakia)
- Max Euwe (Netherlands)
- Reuben Fine (USA)
- Salo Flohr (USSR)
- Ernst Gruenfeld (Austria)
- Paul Keres (USSR)
- Borislav Kostić (Yugoslavia)
- Alexander Kotov (USSR)
- Grigory Levenfish (USSR)
- Andor Lilienthal (USSR)
- Géza Maróczy (Hungary)
- Jacques Mieses (England)
- Miguel Najdorf (Argentina)
- Viacheslav Ragozin (USSR)
- Samuel Reshevsky (USA)
- Akiba Rubinstein (Poland)
- Friedrich Sämisch (West Germany)
- Vasily Smyslov (USSR)
- Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden)
- László Szabó (Hungary)
- Savielly Tartakower (France)
- Milan Vidmar (Yugoslavia)
|Open titles, January 2020 |
|International Master (IM)||3,738||116||3,854|
|FIDE Master (FM)||8,067||37||8,104|
|Candidate Master (CM)||1,708||19||1,727|
|Arena Grandmaster (AGM)||392||3||395|
|Arena International Master (AIM)||780||6||786|
|Arena FIDE Master (AFM)||792||10||802|
|Arena Candidate Master (ACM)||377||5||382|
The term "Grandmaster" (German: Großmeister) had been in informal use for strong chess players for several decades before its official institution by FIDE in 1950. At the same time FIDE also instituted the lesser rank of International Master, and two further subordinate ranks, FIDE Master and Candidate Master, were later created. The requirements for each rank have varied over time, but generally require having demonstrated suitably strong skill in rated competition. Additionally, the World Federation for Chess Composition awards Grandmaster, International Master, and FIDE Master titles to people who demonstrate high skill in the field of composing and solving chess problems (see List of grandmasters of the FIDE for chess compositions and Chess problem § Titles). Also, chess online titles that can be used in OTB official tournaments can be earned by online players. 
Grandmaster (GM) 
The title Grandmaster is awarded to outstanding chess players by FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. Once achieved, the title is generally held for life. In chess literature it is usually abbreviated to GM. The abbreviation IGM for International Grandmaster can also sometimes be found, particularly in older literature. This title can be awarded to the players with an Elo rating greater than 2500 who achieve the required three title norms.
The title may also be awarded directly without going through the usual norm requirements in a few high level tournaments, provided the player has a FIDE rating of over 2300:
- Reaching the final 16 in a FIDE World Cup
- Winning the Women's World Championship
- Winning the World Junior Championship (U20) outright
- Winning the World Senior Championship outright, both in the 50+ and 65+ divisions
- Winning a Continental (e.g. Pan American, European, Asian or African) championship
Players who have achieved an Elo rating greater than 2700, such as Viswanathan Anand, Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen, and Vladimir Kramnik are sometimes informally referred to as "Super-GMs" to distinguish them as being among the world's leading players, rather than one of the approximately 1800 players who hold the Grandmaster title. There are 38 players who would qualify for this title as of January 2020.
Beginning with Nona Gaprindashvili in 1978, a number of women have earned the GM title. Since about 2000, most of the top 10 women have held the GM title. This should not be confused with the Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title.
International Master (IM) 
The title International Master is awarded to strong chess players. Instituted in 1950, it is a lifetime title, usually abbreviated as IM in chess literature.
Normally three norms in international tournaments involving other IMs and Grandmasters are required before FIDE will confer the title on a player. IMs usually have an Elo rating between 2400 and 2500. Occasionally there may be an IM who has not yet become a Grandmaster but has a rating greater than 2500.
The IM title can also be awarded for a few specific performances. For example, under current rules, the runner-up at the World Junior Championship will be awarded the IM title if he or she does not already have it. Current regulations may be found in the FIDE handbook.
After becoming an IM, most professional players set their next goal as becoming a Grandmaster. It is also possible to become a Grandmaster without ever having been an International Master. Larry Christiansen of the United States (1977), Wang Hao of China, Anish Giri of The Netherlands, and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia all became Grandmasters without ever having been an IM. Bobby Fischer of the United States attained both titles solely by virtue of qualifying for the 1958 Interzonal (IM title) and 1959 Candidates Tournament (GM title), entirely bypassing the usual process of achieving norms at each level only incidentally becoming IM before GM. The more usual path is first to become an IM, then move on to the GM level.
At 10 years, 9 months, and 20 days, Abhimanyu Mishra became the youngest-ever person to hold an IM title in 2019.
FIDE Master (FM) 
Introduced in 1978, FM ranks below the title of International Master but ahead of Candidate Master. The usual way for a player to qualify for the FIDE Master title is by achieving an Elo rating of 2300 or more. The current title regulations can be found in the FIDE handbook.
Candidate Master (CM) 
Introduced in 2002, the usual way for a player to qualify for the Candidate Master title is by achieving an Elo rating of 2200 or more. Candidate Master ranks below other open FIDE titles, but above the WFM and WCM titles.
FIDE awards online titles for people who play on its chess server.
Arena Grandmaster (AGM) is the highest online title. It is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 2000.
Arena International Master (AIM) is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 1700.
Arena FIDE Master (AFM) is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 1400.
Arena Candidate Master (ACM) is achieved by a series of 150 bullet games, 100 blitz games or 50 rapid games with a performance rating of over 1100.
|Women's titles, January 2020|
|Woman Grandmaster (WGM)||458|
|Woman International Master (WIM)||846|
|Woman FIDE Master (WFM)||1,737|
|Woman Candidate Master (WCM)||762|
Though the open FIDE titles are not gender-segregated, the following four titles given by FIDE are exclusive to women and may be held simultaneously with an open title. The requirements for these titles are about 200 Elo rating points lower than the requirements for the corresponding open titles. These titles are occasionally criticized and not all leading female players have elected to take them; for example, Grandmaster Judit Polgár, in keeping with her policy of playing only open competitions, never took a women's title.
Woman Grandmaster (WGM) 
Woman Grandmaster is the highest-ranking chess title restricted to women aside from Women's World Champion. FIDE introduced the WGM title in 1976, joining the previously introduced lower-ranking title, Woman International Master.
The WGM title represents a level of chess skill lower than that of the unrestricted Grandmaster (GM) (2500) title, and WGM requirements are also lower than the requirements for the unrestricted International Master (IM) (2400) title. The winner of the World Girls Junior Championship is automatically awarded the WGM title. The current regulations can be found in the FIDE handbook.
Woman International Master (WIM) 
Woman International Master is next to the highest-ranking title given by FIDE exclusively to women. FIDE first awarded the WIM title (formerly called International Woman Master, or IWM) in 1950.
The WIM title has lower requirements than the unrestricted International Master (2400) title. The runners-up in the World Girls Junior Championship are automatically awarded the WIM title. The current regulations can be found in the FIDE handbook.
Woman FIDE Master (WFM) 
The WFM title is just above Woman Candidate Master in the women-only titles given by FIDE. The minimum rating for receiving this title is 2100.
Woman Candidate Master (WCM) 
Woman Candidate Master (achieved at some time a rating of 2000 and played at least 30 rated games) is the lowest-ranking title awarded by FIDE.
Arbiters and trainers
FIDE also awards titles for arbiters and trainers.
The titles for trainers are FIDE Senior Trainer, FIDE Trainer, FIDE Instructor, National Instructor, and Developmental Instructor.
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