How to Become a National Master in Chess

For some, chess is more than just a game. It’s a passion, a calling, and a challenge to push oneself to the limits. If you’re one of the players who wonder how to become a National Master in chess, you’ve come to the right place!

After all, the National Master title is one of the highest titles by the United States Chess Federation (US Chess).

To become a National Master (NM) in chess, you need to achieve a US chess rating of at least 2200. The basis of the rating system is the player’s performance and the strength of their opponents.

Let’s take a closer look!

National Master in Chess Requirements

To become an NM in chess for the US Chess, a player must have a rating of at least 2200. You can achieve this by playing in US Chess-rated tournaments.

Did you know that less than one percent of rated players hold the NM title? This makes it a significant achievement for anyone who earns it.

However, despite its rarity, the NM title is considered one of the easiest titles to obtain compared to other titles, such as International Master (IM) or Grandmaster (GM).

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How Are US Chess Ratings Computed?

The ratings are calculated based on a player’s performance in tournaments and games against other rated players. There are factors to consider, such as the strength of opponents and the number of games played.

The US Chess rating system assigns a numerical rating to each player, based on their performance.

The rating is adjusted after each game, depending on the player’s performance and the strength of their opponents.

If a player performs well against opponents with higher ratings, their rating will increase. If they perform poorly against weaker opponents, their ratings will decrease.

How to Join US Chess-Rated Tournaments?

You can start to earn a rating by joining US Chess-rated tournaments. Follow these steps:

1. Register as a US Chess Member

To receive updates and play in US Chess-rated tournaments, you need to become a member of US Chess. You can sign up for a membership online.

You’ll see different types of memberships available for players of all ages and skill levels.

2. Find a Tournament

Once you’ve become a US Chess member, you can search for tournaments in your area on the US Chess website. You can choose to join tournaments anytime within your membership.

3. Register for the Tournament

Once you’ve found a tournament you want to participate in, you’ll need to register for it.

Most tournaments allow you to register online through the tournament organizer’s website.

4. Attend the Tournament

On the day of the tournament, arrive early and check in with the tournament organizer. Bring your chess set and clock, as well as any other necessary equipment or materials.

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Be familiar with the rules and regulations of the tournament.

5. Receive a Rating

After the tournament, your performance will be recorded and your rating will be calculated. You can view your rating online from an hour up to 2 days after the tournament.

How Long Does It Take to Get a National Master in Chess?

The amount of time it takes to become an NM in chess can vary greatly depending on the player’s dedication, talent, and opportunities for competitive play.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Experience and training
  • Frequency of play
  • Coaching and study

7 Tips to Increase Your Chess Rating

Increasing your rating can be a long process. However, with the right approach, it’s possible to make steady progress and achieve your goals.

Here are some tips to increase your chess rating:

1. Study the Game Consistently

To improve your chess skills, it’s important to study the game regularly. This can include reading books, watching videos, and analyzing games from top players.

2. Play Regularly

The more you play chess, the more opportunities you’ll have to improve your skills. Try to play in tournaments or find a regular playing partner to practice with.

3. Analyze Your Games

Don’t be discouraged by losses or mistakes. Use them as learning opportunities to improve your game and avoid making the same mistakes.

After playing a game, take the time to analyze it and identify areas where you could improve. This can help you identify patterns in your play and make adjustments for future games.

4. Work With a Coach

A coach can provide valuable insights into your play and help you identify areas where you can improve. They can guide you on topics such as opening preparation, tactical training, and endgame strategies.

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With the help of a coach, you can accelerate your progress and make significant gains in your chess rating. If you’re serious about improving your chess game, consider working with a coach to help you achieve your goals.

5. Use Chess Software

There are many chess software programs available that can help you improve your skills. These programs can help you analyze your games, practice tactics, and study openings.

Additionally, chess software can provide a range of training exercises, such as tactical puzzles, endgame studies, and positional exercises, to help you improve your skills.

6. Practice Endgame Positions

The endgame is a crucial part of chess, and it’s important to be comfortable with common endgame positions. While openings and middlegame play are important, endgames are often where games are won or lost.

When practicing endgame positions, focus on mastering the basic principles and techniques.

They apply to most endgames, such as controlling the center, creating passed pawns, and mastering king and pawn endgames.

You can participate in online endgame study groups or play with another player who specializes in endgame play. By mastering these techniques, you can gain a significant advantage over your opponents.

7. Focus on Tactics

Tactics are an important part of chess, and improving your tactical skills can lead to significant rating gains.

Practice solving tactical puzzles regularly to improve your ability to spot tactical opportunities in your games.


Becoming an NM in chess requires a combination of dedication, hard work, and a strategic approach. Playing regularly, analyzing games, and seeking out coaching are critical steps toward achieving the required US Chess rating.

By staying motivated and persistent, you can learn how to become a national master in chess in no time!