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Grandmaster (chess) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grandmaster (chess)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The title Grandmaster is awarded to chess players by the world chess organization FIDE. Apart from World
Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain.
Once achieved, the title is held for life. In chess literature it is usually abbreviated to GM. (Other titles are also often
abbreviated: FM for FIDE Master, IM for International Master, and CM for Candidate Master.) The abbreviation IGM
for International Grandmaster is also sometimes used, particularly in older literature.
Grandmaster, International Master, and FIDE Master are open to both men and women. In 1978, Women's World
Champion Nona Gaprindashvili became the first woman to receive the GM title, by a special decision of FIDE. The first
woman to qualify for the title through achievement in tournament play was Susan Polgar in 1991. Since about 2000, most
of the top 10 women have held the GM title.
A separate gender-segregated title, Woman Grandmaster (WGM), is also available. It is awarded to women who attain
a level of skill between that of a FIDE Master and an International Master.
FIDE awards separate Grandmaster titles to composers and solvers of chess problems (see List of grandmasters for
chess composition). The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) awards the title of International
Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (ICCGM).

Contents
1 History
1.1 Early tournament use
1.2 Non-standard and Soviet usage before 1950
1.3 Official status (1950 onwards)
1.3.1 1953 regulations
1.3.2 1957 regulations
1.3.3 1965 regulations
1.3.4 1970 regulations
2 Current regulations
3 Title inflation
4 See also
5 References
6 External links

History

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The first known use of the term grandmaster in connection with chess was in an 1838 issue of Bell's Life, in which a
correspondent referred to William Lewis as "our past grandmaster".[1] Lewis himself later referred to Philidor as a
grandmaster, and the term was also applied to a few other players.[1]

Early tournament use


In the Ostend tournament of 1907 the term grandmaster (Gromeister in
German) was used. The tournament was divided into two sections: the
Championship Tournament and the Masters' Tournament. The Championship
section was for players who had previously won an international tournament.[2]
Siegbert Tarrasch won the Championship section, over Carl Schlechter,
Dawid Janowski, Frank Marshall, Amos Burn, and Mikhail Chigorin. These
players were described as grandmasters for the purposes of the tournament.
The San Sebastin 1912 tournament won by Akiba Rubinstein was a
designated grandmaster event.[1] Rubinstein won with 12 points out of 19.
Tied for second with 12 points were Aron Nimzowitsch and Rudolf
Spielmann.[3]
By some accounts, in the St. Petersburg 1914 chess tournament, the title
"Grandmaster" was formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II, who had

Siegbert Tarrasch (18621934)

partially funded the tournament.[2] The Tsar reportedly awarded the title to the
five finalists: Emanuel Lasker, Jos Ral Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Frank Marshall.
Chess historian Edward Winter has questioned this, stating that the earliest known sources that support this story are an
article by Robert Lewis Taylor in the June 15, 1940, issue of The New Yorker and Marshall's autobiography My 50
Years of Chess (1942).[4][5][6]

Non-standard and Soviet usage before 1950


Before 1950, the term grandmaster was sometimes informally applied to other world class players. The Fdration
Internationale des checs (FIDE, or World Chess Federation) was formed in Paris in 1924, but at that time did not
formulate criteria on who should earn the title.
In 1927, the Soviet Union's Chess Federation established the title of Grandmaster of the Soviet Union, for their own
players, since at that time Soviets were not competing outside their own country. This title was abolished in 1931, after
having been awarded to Boris Verlinsky, who won the 1929 Soviet Championship.[7] The title was brought back in
1935, and awarded to Mikhail Botvinnik, who thus became the first "official" Grandmaster of the USSR. Verlinsky did
not get his title back.[7]

Official status (1950 onwards)


When FIDE reorganized after World War II it adopted regulations concerning the award of international titles. Titles
were awarded by a resolution of the FIDE General Assembly and the Qualification Committee. FIDE first awarded the
Grandmaster title in 1950 to 27 players. These players were:
The top players of the day: world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, and those who had qualified for (or been seeded
into) the inaugural Candidates Tournament in 1950: Isaac Boleslavsky, Igor Bondarevsky, David Bronstein, Max
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Euwe, Reuben Fine, Salo Flohr, Paul Keres, Alexander Kotov, Andor Lilienthal, Miguel Najdorf, Samuel
Reshevsky, Vasily Smyslov, Gideon Sthlberg, and Lszl Szab.
Players still living who, though past their best in 1950, were recognised as having been world class when at their
peak: Ossip Bernstein, Oldich Duras, Ernst Grnfeld, Borislav Kosti, Grigory Levenfish, Gza Marczy,
Jacques Mieses, Viacheslav Ragozin, Akiba Rubinstein, Friedrich Smisch, Savielly Tartakower, and Milan
Vidmar.
Since FIDE did not award the Grandmaster title posthumously, world-class
players who died prior to 1950, including World Champions Steinitz, Lasker,
Capablanca, and Alekhine, never received the title.[8]
1953 regulations
Title awards under the original regulations were subject to political concerns.
Efim Bogoljubov, who had emigrated from the Soviet Union to Germany, was
not entered in the first class of Grandmasters, even though he had played two
matches for the World Championship with Alekhine. He received the title in
1951, by a vote of thirteen to eight with five abstentions. Yugoslavia supported
his application, but all other Communist countries opposed it. In 1953, FIDE
abolished the old regulations, although a provision was maintained that allowed
older masters who had been overlooked to be awarded titles. The new
regulations awarded the title of International Grandmaster of the FIDE to
players meeting any of the

Akiba Rubinstein (18821961)

following criteria:[9]

1. The world champion.


2. Masters who have the absolute right to play in the World Championship
Candidates Tournament, or any player who replaces an absent
contestant and earns at least a 50 percent score.
3. The winner of an international tournament meeting specified standards,
and any player placing second in two such tournaments within a span of
four years. The tournament must be at least eleven rounds with seven or
more players, 80 percent or more being International Grandmasters or
International Masters. Additionally, 30 percent of the players must be
Grandmasters who have the absolute right to play in the next World
Championship Candidates Tournament, or who have played in such a
tournament in the previous ten years.

Jacques Mieses (18651954), one of


the first FIDE Grandmasters

4. A player who demonstrates ability manifestly equal to that of (3) above


in an international tournament or match. Such titles must be approved by the Qualification Committee with the
support of at least five members.
1957 regulations

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After FIDE issued the 1953 title regulations, it was recognized that they were somewhat haphazard, and work began to
revise the regulations. The FIDE Congress in Vienna in 1957 adopted new regulations, called the FAV system, in
recognition of the work done by International Judge Giovanni Ferrantes (Italy), Alexander (probably Conel Hugh
O'Donel Alexander), and Giancarlo Dal Verme (Italy). Under the 1957 regulations, the title of International Grandmaster
of the FIDE was automatically awarded to:
1. The world champion.
2. Any player qualifying from the Interzonal tournament to play in the Candidates Tournament, even if he did not play
in the Candidates for any reason.
3. Any player who would qualify from the Interzonal to play in the Candidates but who was excluded because of a
limitation on the number of participants from his Federation.
4. Any player who actually plays in a Candidates Tournament and scores at least 33 percent.
The regulations also allowed titles to be awarded by a FIDE Congress on recommendation by the Qualification
Committee. Recommendations were based on performance in qualifying tournaments, with the required score depending
on the percentage of Grandmasters and International Masters in the tournament.[10]
1965 regulations
Concerns were raised that the 1957 regulations were too lax. At the FIDE Congress in 1961, GM Milan Vidmar said
that the regulations "made it possible to award international titles to players without sufficient merit". At the 1964
Congress in Tel Aviv, a subcommittee was formed to propose changes to the regulations. The subcommittee
recommended that the automatic award of titles be abolished, criticized the methods used for awarding titles based on
qualifying performances, and called for a change in the makeup of the Qualification Committee. Several delegates
supported the subcommittee recommendations, including GM Miguel Najdorf who felt that existing regulations were
leading to an inflation of international titles.[10] At the 1965 Congress in Wiesbaden FIDE raised the standards required
for international titles. The International Grandmaster title regulations were:
1. Any World Champion is automatically awarded the GM title
2a. Anyone who scores at least 40 percent in a quarter-final match in the Candidates Tournament
2b. Scores at least the number of points in a tournament corresponding to the total of a 55 percent score against
Grandmasters plus 75 percent against International Masters (IM) plus 85 percent against other players (a GM
"norm").
To fulfill requirement 2b, the candidate must score one GM norm in a category 1a tournament or two norms within a
three-year period in two Category 1b tournaments, or one Category 2a tournament and one Category 1b tournament.
The categories of tournaments are:
1aat least sixteen players, at least 50 percent are GMs, and 70 percent at least IMs
1bat least twelve players, at least 33 percent GMs and 70 percent IMs
2aat least fifteen players, at least 50 percent IMs
2bten to fourteen players, at least 50 percent IMs.
Since FIDE titles are for life, a GM or IM does not count for the purposes of this requirement if he had not had a GM or
IM result in the five years prior to the tournament.
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In addition, no more than 50 percent plus one of the players can be from the same country for tournaments of 10 to 12
players, or no more than 50 percent plus two for larger tournaments.
Seventy-four GM titles were awarded in 1951 through 1968. During that period, ten GM titles were awarded in 1965,
but only one in 1966 and in 1968.[11]
1970 regulations
The modern system for awarding FIDE titles evolved from the "Dorazil" proposals, presented to the 1970 Siegen Chess
Olympiad FIDE Congress. The proposals were put together by Dr Wilfried Dorazil (then FIDE Vice-President) and
fellow Committee members Grandmaster Svetozar Gligori and Professor Arpad Elo. The recommendations of the
Committee report were adopted in full.[12]
In essence, the proposals built on the work done by Professor Elo in devising his Elo rating system. The establishment of
an updated list of players and their Elo rating enabled significantly strong international chess tournaments to be allocated a
"Category", based on the average rating of the contestants. For instance, it was decided that 'Category 1' status would
apply to tournaments with an average Elo rating of participants falling within the range 22512275; similarly Category 2
would apply to the range 22762300 etc. The higher the tournament Category, the stronger the tournament.
Another vital component involved the setting of meritorious "scores" for each Category of tournament. A player must
meet or surpass the relevant score to demonstrate that they had performed at Grandmaster (GM) or International Master
(IM) level. Scores were expressed as percentages of a perfect maximum score and decreased as the tournament
Category increased, thereby reflecting the strength of a player's opposition and the relative difficulty of the task.
Tournament organisers could then apply the percentages to their own tournament format and declare in advance the
actual score that participants must achieve to attain a GM or IM result (nowadays referred to as a norm).

Cat.
1
2

3
4
5

Avg.

Score Score

Elo

(GM) (IM)

2251
2275
2276
2300
2301
2325
2326
2350
2351
2375

Cat.

85%

76%

83%

73%

81%

70%

78%

67%

76%

64%

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Avg.

Score Score

Elo

(GM) (IM)

2376
2400
2401
2425
2426
2450
2451
2475
2476
2500

Cat.

73%

60%

11

70%

57%

12

67%

53%

13

64%

50%

14

60%

47%

15

Avg.

Score Score

Elo

(GM) (IM)

2501
2525
2526
2550
2551
2575
2576
2600
2601
2625

57%

43%

53%

40%

50%

36%

47%

33%

43%

30%

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To qualify for the Grandmaster title, a player needed to achieve three such GM results within three years. Exceptionally,
if a player's contributory games totalled thirty or more, then the title could be awarded on the basis of two such results.
There were also circumstances where the system could be adapted to fit team events and other competitions.
The full proposals included many other rules and regulations, covering such topics as;
Eligible tournament formats.
Eligible participants.
Unrated participants.
Registration of tournaments with FIDE.
Calculations, including the handling of fractions.

Current regulations
The requirements for becoming a Grandmaster are somewhat complex. A player must have attained an Elo rating of at
least 2500 (although they need not maintain this level to obtain or keep the title). In addition, at least two favorable
results (called norms) from a total of at least 27 games in tournaments involving other Grandmasters, including some
from countries other than the applicant's, are usually required before FIDE will confer the title on a player. There are
other milestones a player can achieve to get the title, such as winning the Women's World Championship, the World
Junior Championship, or the World Senior Championship. Current regulations can be found in the FIDE Handbook.[13]

Title inflation
In 1957, there were 50 GMs (USSR: 19, Yugoslavia: 7, USA: 5, Argentina: 4, West Germany: 2, France: 2, Sweden: 1,
Czechoslovakia: 1, Hungary: 1, Austria: 1, Belgium: 1, Denmark: 1, Netherlands: 1, Poland: 1).[14] In 1972, there were
88 GMs with 33 representing the USSR. The current FIDE ratings list includes over 1000 Grandmasters.[15] Nigel Short
was rated the third best player in the world in 1989 with a rating of 2650; in the 21st century such a rating would only be
good enough for a player to reach the top 100 or so, with the third best player in the world usually rated around 2800.
As of July 2011 the top three players are all rated above 2800.[16] Other minor factors come into play: there are more
tournaments worldwide and cheaper air travel makes them more accessible to globe-trotting chess professionals, who
include many players from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe whose movements are no longer restricted as
they were before the 1990s. Additionally, players can make norms in tournaments that would have been previously
considered too short for norms,[17] making norms easier to get and allowing for more norm tournaments to be held.
December 2008 saw a record number of GMs (1,192) and IMs (2,916), causing some FIDE officials to suggest that
FIDE should consider an "elite grandmaster" title.[18] The unofficial title "Super Grandmaster" is sometimes used by
players to refer to those with a 2700+ rating to distinguish the most serious world champion contenders. The proportion
of titled players among rated players is actually becoming smaller due to the rise in the number of all chess players

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worldwide who have FIDE ratings.[18] In response, one member of the FIDE Titles & Ratings Committee observed that
it is now more common for weaker players to get FIDE ratings, so the comparison of Grandmasters as a proportion of
all rated players is not really helpful.[19]

See also
List of chess grandmasters
List of youngest grandmasters
Comparison of top chess players throughout history

References
Notes
1. Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (2 ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 156,
ISBN 978-0-19-280049-7
2. Sunnucks 1970, p. 223
3. Crosstable San Sebastian 1912 (http://nimzowitsch.com/Tourn_and_Match/sanseb12.htm)
4. Winter, Edward (1999), Kings, Commoners and Knaves: Further Chess Explorations (1 ed.), Russell Enterprises, Inc.,
pp. 315316, ISBN 978-1-888690-04-0
5. Winter, Edward (2003), A Chess Omnibus (1 ed.), Russell Enterprises, Inc., pp. 177178, ISBN 978-1-888690-17-0
6. Chess Note 5144 (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter38.html), by Edward Winter
7. Cafferty, Bernard; Taimanov, Mark (1998), The Soviet Championships (1 ed.), Cadogan Books, pp. 2829, ISBN 978-185744-201-4
8. Elo, Arpad (1978), The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present, Arco, p. 66, ISBN 978-0-668-04721-0
9. Harkness, Kenneth (1956), The Official Blue Book and Encyclopedia of Chess, David McKay Company, pp. 332336,
LCCN 56014153 (http://lccn.loc.gov/56014153), OCLC 1578704 (https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1578704)
10. Harkness, Kenneth (1967), Official Chess Handbook, David McKay Company, pp. 211214, LCCN 66013085
(http://lccn.loc.gov/66013085), OCLC 728637 (https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/728637)
11. Sunnucks 1970, pp. 224226
12. Keene, Raymond; Levy, David (1970), Siegen Chess Olympiad (1 ed.), Chess Ltd, Sutton Coldfield, pp. 238240
13. Actual Handbook (http://www.fide.com/fide/handbook.html?id=58&view=article), fide.com
14. Ajedrez Revista Mensual 1957, p. 403.
15. Download Fide Rating Lists (http://ratings.fide.com/download.phtml)
16. http://ratings.fide.com/toparc.phtml?cod=193
17. Praful Zaveri (December 10, 2006), Nigel Short wins Commonwealth Championship
(http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=3531), chessbase.com
18. Macieja, Bartlomiej (December 17, 2008), ACP Report by GM Bartlmiej Macieja (http://www.fide.com/fide/fidecommissions/3616-acp-report-by-gm-bartlmiej-macieja), Fide.com, retrieved 2010-01-03
19. Remarks on the ACP's FIDE Congress report (http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5111), Nick Faulks,
Chessbase, December 24, 2008

Bibliography
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Sunnucks, Anne (1970), The Encyclopaedia of Chess, St. Martins Press, ISBN 978-0-7091-4697-1

External links
"Requirements for FIDE Titles" (http://www.fide.com/component/handbook/?id=58&view=article) from the FIDE
Handbook
"World Top Chess players" (http://ratings.fide.com/toplist.phtml) FIDE
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grandmaster_(chess)&oldid=646076596"
Categories: Chess grandmasters Chess titles
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