The World Chess Federation, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), awards several performance-based titles to chess players, up to and including the highly prized Grandmaster 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. Open titles may be earned by all players, whilst the women's titles are restricted to female players. A strong female player may have a title in both systems.
- 1 History
- 2 Open titles
- 3 Women's titles
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
FIDE's first GMs were:
The term "Grandmaster" 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 persons 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).
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.
Players with 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". There were 47 players in the May 2014 FIDE ratings list with a rating of at least 2700.
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.
The December 2013 FIDE rating list records 1441 players holding the GM title, of whom 31 are women.
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. Sometimes, though, 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. However, the more usual path is first to become an IM, then move on to the GM level.
An International Master is usually in the top 0.25% of all tournament players at the time he or she receives the title. The November 2010 FIDE rating list records 3036 players holding the IM title.
At 10 years and 10 months R Praggnanandhaa became the youngest ever person to hold an IM title. 
FIDE Master (FM)
Introduced in 1978, FM ranks below the title of International Master but ahead of Candidate Master. The most 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.
The FIDE November 2010 ratings list records 5731 FMs.
Candidate Master (CM)
Introduced in 2002, the most 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.
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. Not all leading female players have elected to take such titles; 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 (achieved at some time a rating of 2300) 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 a little bit 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.
Many strong female players hold the IM title in addition to the WGM, and since about 2000 the top 10 women players have been mostly GMs. The winner of the Women's World Championship is automatically awarded the GM title if she does not already hold it, while the runner-up receives the IM title and a GM norm. As of February 2016, the FIDE rating list records 287 women holding the WGM title alone and an additional 33 who are GM.
Woman International Master (WIM)
Woman International Master (achieved at some time a rating of 2200) 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 FIDE Master (2300) 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.
The November 2010 FIDE rating list records 599 women holding the WIM title.
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 and is lower than that of its unrestricted counterpart, FIDE Master (2300).
The November 2011 FIDE rating list records 1126 women holding the WFM title.
Woman Candidate Master (WCM)
Woman Candidate Master (achieved at some time a rating of 2000) is the lowest-ranking title awarded by FIDE. The requirements for the WCM title are easier than those for the unrestricted title, Candidate Master (2200).
- "Handbook > FIDE Title Regulations effective from 1 July 2014". FIDE.com. FIDE. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- Wall, W. "FIDE History". Archived from the original on 2009-10-28.
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (2 ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 156, ISBN 978-0-19-280049-7
- The World Federation for Chess Composition > Titles
- "Download Fide Rating Lists". Ratings.fide.com. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "FIDE Official Handbook: Title Requirements". Fide.com. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- uschess.org[dead link]
- "Praggnanandhaa – youngest chess IM in history!". chessbase.com. Retrieved 2016-06-01.
- International Title Regulations - Requirements for the titles designated. FIDE
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992). The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 450. ISBN 0-19-280049-3.
- 1.0. Requirements for the titles designated in 0.31. from the FIDE Handbook, 01. International Title Regulations (Qualification Commission)
- "FIDE Top 100 Women". Ratings.fide.com. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- Advanced search results: WGM. FIDE.
- Advanced search results: female GM. FIDE.
- "Handbook". Fide.com. Retrieved 2012-03-12.