It’s always impressive when you hear that a young chess player made it to Grandmaster! But what do these guys do to achieve the honorable status? Is winning games enough?
To become Grandmaster, a chess player has to get a rating of 2500 to 2699. But what do those numbers mean, and is it possible for you to get to that point?
In this article, I’ll explain all about chess ratings and what they mean for chess players.
What Is Chess Rating?
A chess rating is a number that represents a player’s skill in chess. The higher your number or rating is, the stronger you are versus other players. There are nine currently known chess rating systems:
- Deutsche Wertungszahl
- Elo Rating System
- Glicko Rating System
- Harkness System
- Ingo System
- Universal Rating System
- USA ICCF Rating System
- USCF Rating System
The International Chess Federation (FIDE), an official governing body for chess, uses the Elo rating as a standard to rank players internationally. It branches out to countries in the form of national federations and regulates competitions staged on an international scale.
If you’ve been in the chess scene for a while, you may have heard of Elo Rating. It is a system made by Arpad Emrick Elo, a physics professor from Marquette University.
Sports such as baseball, football, chess, other board games, and even eSports, such as League of Legends, use this system to rank their players.
How Does The Elo Rating Work?
Elo ratings can increase or decrease depending on the following situations:
- You win many points if you beat a player with a higher rating.
- You win fewer points if you beat a player with the same or lower rating than you.
- You lose points if you lose to a player with a lower rating than you.
- You lose fewer points if you lose to a player with a higher or similar rating.
Simply put, the more challenging (higher-rated) your opponent is, the more points you earn if you win. Likewise, you get fewer points with equal or easy opponents.
If you’re losing, it is better to lose against higher or equal-rated players than lower-rated ones. Since the Elo rating represents your competency, it may calculate that your skill is degrading since you lost against an easy opponent.
You can use this calculator to find your initial FIDE/Elo rating if you haven’t yet.
What Chess Rating Is a Grandmaster?
If you’re a competitive chess player, then a Grandmaster (GM) is the highest title you can receive. To get a bird’s-eye view, below is the chess hierarchy according to the Elo rating and titles granted by FIDE:
- 1000 to 1199 Elo – Novices
- 1200 to 1399 Elo – Class D
- 1400 to 1599 Elo – Class C
- 1600 to 1799 Elo – Class B
- 1800 to 1999 Elo – Class A
- 2000 to 2199 Elo – Expert
- 2200 to 2299 Elo – National/Candidate Master
- 2300 to 2399 Elo – Fide Master
- 2400 to 2499 Elo – International Master
- 2500 to 2699 Elo – Grandmaster
- 2700 beyond – Super Grandmaster (informal/unofficial title)
According to the official FIDE website, Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian chess player, currently hold the 1-A rank he has held for ten consecutive years.
What’s A Super Grandmaster?
If Grandmaster is the highest title, then what’s a Super Grandmaster? For starters, it’s not an official FIDE title. It’s merely an informal title given to grandmasters who reach an Elo of 2700 and beyond.
How Can You Become A Grandmaster?
Becoming a grandmaster can be challenging with so many talented chess players competing for the title. Nevertheless, if you want to be one or you’re coaching a young player to become GM, the following are six steps you need to make your way to the top:
1. Start Young
The advantage of starting at a young age is a boon. Like any other craft, it can take years to master chess, let alone become an expert.
Chess teachers typically recommend that children learn chess when they’re six to eight to develop their critical thinking, concentration, and logic.
2. Have The Right Mindset
A loss can devastate a chess player, especially if you’ve put in the time and effort. It may make you feel that what you invested seemed useless. That’s not true at all!
Jose Capablanca once said: “You may learn much more from a loss than from a win. You must lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.”
3. Master Chess Theory, Strategy, And Playstyles
To become a grandmaster, you must master (or at least learn) various opening moves, positional advantages, and end-game strategies. You must also know your play style.
The current top chess player, Magnus Carlsen, has an aggressive style and is renowned for his mastery of end-game strategies. However, his ability to adjust according to his opponent’s gameplay made him the number one player internationally.
4. Analyze Games
Watch how famous grandmasters play their games. Also, analyze your games: what did you do wrong? Learning from your mistakes prevents you from making the same blunders in the future.
If you’re competing against a famous player, analyze their previous games. Looks for ways to counter them.
5. Play And Keep Playing
Learning the theory and analyzing games are all useful in chess, but you must apply them! How? Play with people you know who play chess.
If you’re good enough, join tournaments! There is no better teacher than experience. So don’t fear losing. Likewise, there is no better feeling than seeing your efforts pay off by winning.
6. Get Qualified
For FIDE to give you the title, you must at least reach a FIDE rating of 2500 and win three GM norms. In short, you not only need to increase your Elo rating by fighting in tournaments, but you also have to win against players that meet the titleholder requirements.
If you apply the above steps religiously, you may be qualified and pass this step.
To recap, your Elo rating can increase or decrease depending on your and your opponent’s rating. Likewise, how much you earn (or lose) depends on the gap between you and your opponent.
A chess grandmaster is the highest title you can receive from FIDE in competitive chess. For players to attain this title, they must have a 2500 to 2699 Elo rating and should have won three GM norms.