Bartek Macieja | March 08, 2012 11:45

Elite Grandmaster

With every rating list, many chess players and officials whisper more and more loudly about the need to create a new FIDE title, above GM.
Let's call it Elite Grandmaster, although other proposals are sincerely welcome.

I can see 3 potential benefits of the introduction of a new title:

1) The number of grandmasters (around 1400) is so high, that it may be worthy to differ them, according to the difference of classes.
2) Currently, many players after getting a GM title don't have an additional motivation to work more and to improve. For instance, a difference between 2560-GM and 2590-GM cannot be considered relevant. The introduction of a new title (or new titles) may encourage such players to continue their efforts to improve their skills. Obviously, one can always claim, that a goal is to become the world champion, however many players prefer to be more realistic in life and prefer more realistic goals.
3) There will be new strong tournaments rising (including closed tournaments) organised in order to allow players obtaining norms for a new title. Currently, such tournaments are clearly missing.

This topic is highly controversial, it is difficult to meet 2 persons with exactly the same opinion/solution.
I think one of the main reasons is that the goals are not precisely described, while different goals require a different approach and a different construction of a new title.

I can see 2 possible approaches. Each of them has some advantages and disadvantages.
The most important strategic decision is to decide whether we want the number of new title holders to remain more or less constant in time or not.

Approach 1

For some people, the stability of a number of new title holders is a value itself. And this is exactly the aim they want to achieve.

I think it is relatively easy to construct a title which will be possessed by almost the same number of people through time.
In this case, we should award the title basing, for instance, on the position in rating, instead of an absolute value of rating, or basing on a place taken in the World Championship.

If we start only from currently best players, then with every year the number of new title holders will obviously grow.
However, after some time (half a century?) the system will stabilize due to a fact that the same number of new players will gain the title as the number of title holders will pass away.
If we look retroactively and grant the title to best players in the past, the system will stabilize faster.

Obviously, the system will stabilize only if some additional conditions are met, for instance the frequency of World Championships remains more or less constant (if the title is to be awarded basing on results in World Championships).

Please note, that with this approach, the title will be given to players of different strength, if the level of play changes between decades. Some players, stronger in absolute terms, will not be awarded the title, if in their times obtaining a higher level was required to get success (for instance in World Championships).

Approach 2

It is also possible to use a totally different approach and to grant a new title to all players obtaining a certain level of play.
The construction of required conditions should be then similar to the construction of conditions for IM/GM titles.

There are 2 main benefits of this approach:
- Many grandmasters will see a new realistic goal, therefore they will be encouraged to work more and to maintain chess activity.
- New strong tournaments will appear, organised in order to allow players obtaining norms for a new title.

With this approach, there is a space for even more new titles. 2200 level is associated with CM, 2300 with FM, 2400 with IM, 2500 with GM, therefore new titles may easily be associated with 2600 and 2700 levels. It is also worthy to consider an additional title at 2800 level.

Please note, that with this approach, if the rating system is stable (no inflation/deflation) and the requirements are constant, the number of title holders will increase every year, as explained by Derek John de Solla Price already in 1961.
It is worthy to add, that the number of grandmasters grows exactly in the way predicted by de Solla Price' theory.

Both approaches will have different consequences for title holders:
- If we choose a system with a stable number of title holders, the title will "only" give a prestige (will inform about best player's achievement(s) in the past).
- If we choose a system similar to current IM/GM, then title holders will be invited more frequently, as organisers will need them for tournaments, in order to secure a possibility to obtain a norm.

The final remark is that both approaches can be implemented independently. We may construct a new title that will be possessed only by a more or less constant small number of players and at the same time we may construct a different title (or even different titles) achievable via norms.

The Association of Chess Professionals will organise a survey on this topic soon. The results will be sent to FIDE Qualification Commission for further discussion.

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Bartek Macieja's picture
Author: Bartek Macieja

Bartlomiej Macieja is a grandmaster from Poland.



Mark Crowther's picture

The problem then is that just as with the Florencio Campomanes campaign to get as many nations to have a Grandmaster, there will be a campaign to get as many super-Grandmasters as possible per nation. Campomanes achieved his goal by just lowering the standards to become a GM. Sort the GM title out first by pegging the rating required to a qualifying performance sufficient to enter the top 100 (or higher) then maybe you could have a super-GM title where a performance is sufficient to make the top 10 and the title -might- be worthwhile. We shouldn't be in this position, FIDE broke the reputation of the original title and the general public will never understand the subtlety of a new title, that ship sailed more than 20 years ago.

William's picture

Super Master 2600
Great Master 2700
Elite Master 2800

Stephen's picture

I think people pay more attention to ratings of top players rather than titles these days with the availability of the live ratings list. Therefore I don't think that additional GM titles will add very much.

I would like to see a different way of distinguishing players that is a bit more interesting than the current ratings and titles, which are by their definition one-dimensional.

Perhaps some new title could be awarded that gives us an indication of the player's style. Maybe something along the lines of "Master of Defence" or "Master of Attack". I would make want these titles to be very difficult to achieve, For example obtaining three brilliancy prizes in tournaments or perhaps awarded periodically by a panel of peers. Holders would be existing GMs but with a recognised speciality.

Although the idea is "naive", it would have a number of advantages -

Tournament organisers would be able to invite a group of players with an appropriate mix of "styles" appropriate for their tournament. Organisers could advertise their tournaments as the most attack minded tournament of the year or the as a battle between attack and defense.

The titles would be media friendly. Non-chess media would be able to report more easily on chess tournaments and matches for a non-chess audience.

Existing GM title holders would not have their titles diminished.

Just my two pence worth

RealityCheck's picture

We dont need no new titles. ego trips. Adding more titles just adds to the confusion. The most profound, daring change would be to raise the standard.:
GM 2700
IM 2600
FM 2500I

I hope Mr. Paulsen reads this.

noi that van phong's picture

Totally agree. More titles wont help, just add confusion. Considering the Elo inflation, I think each 10 - 15 years, the standard for each title should be upgraded.

Anonymous's picture

Super GM: above 2750.

Christian's picture

After 1948 there was the prestigious "Candidate" title.

evertones's picture

Classical is dead ...we need a untheorical and unlimited form to play chess...we need 960 fischer chess ... no more memorized lines games

stevefraser's picture

Or add more opening positions beyond the traditional one. This would result in many more beautiful and new middlegame positions and help revitalize top flight chess. Most chess players like to study to improve so for most of us chess 960 is a drawback.

Kenneth W. Regan's picture

Compare "Grandmaster" to Black-Belt in various martial arts, which in the numbers sense is much more "watered down". What they do is have "degrees" or "grades" above black-belt, even 9 or 10 in some systems. Then everyone is happy since you still have the name to denote a big club of achievement for the regard of the general public, and distinctions for the select company where they matter. The degrees are often shown as stripes on the belt.

If we are OK with an increasing population and would like to preserve/improve the emphasis on round-robin chess, we could imitate karate by making the "stripes" be awarded for winning a tournament of a certain category. Top degree could be the prize for qualifying for the Candidates and/or the Grand Slam Final---the latter being like how the "Grand Master" name was bestowed by the Tsar for the 1914 St. Pete finals to begin with.

Steve Meadows's picture

I think Kenneth's solution is the most compelling. You can easily advance this concept to incorporate almost all proposed solutions:
1st degree GM: as it is now,
2nd degree GM: Elo 2600+
3rd degree GM: Elo 2700+
4th degree GM: Elo 2800+
5th degree GM: Elo 2850+

Then you can award (a limited number of) degrees honoring those players who excel in certain areas (e.g. defensive/attacking skills, Top blitz player, etc.). Those degrees would then be added to the current "Elo-degree". Thus, a player with an Elo of 2600 (e.g.) who has been among the top 10 blitz players for a certain period of time, would be a second-(elo-)degree GM who received one additional (his third) degree, which puts him on a level with a 2700-player with no additional degrees. One could think about limiting the number of those "Non-Elo-Degrees" to avoid confusion. Thus, a player who does not qualify for the criteria any more loses his/her "Non-Elo-title(s)" each time a new rating list is published (e.g. not among the top 10 blitz players for a certain period of time anymore). Those flexible non-elo-degrees would ensure that only active players are able to have the highest overall degrees.

Lourens van Veelen's picture

Like this, except the last one put the 5th degree on 2900, so there is something to archieve also for the best and this keeps the mind humble...

Step every degree with 100 points, what is unpossible in the present, will be possible in the future.

Eric's picture

Awarding titles dates back from the times before the introduction of the ELO system. With the ELO system we have a reliable way of comparing players' strenght. Why do we still need titles then? Abolish them altogether I would say.

The Devil's picture

Adding additional titles will kind of ruin chess history in my opinion and add to confusion since they aren't retroactive. "Fischer was only a GM, but Carlsen is a Super GM", that type of thing. The closest thing that makes sense seems to be the suggestion of adding different "degrees" of the Grandmaster title similar to martial arts. We don't have to call it degrees, but just for the sake of example, entry level GMs being a 1st degree GM and Magnus Carlsen being a 3rd degree GM shows relative expertise while also preserving the highest obtained base title. I'm not a fan of "Super GM" and "Elite GM" etc etc.

Chris Holmes's picture

Why have permanent titles ?

If you no longer play at 2900+ then your 2900+ title should vanish.

When GMs were instituted there were less than 20. Compared to thousands now. A dime a dozen as they say.

ll's picture

How about GGM (Gruesomely Great Master)? Or MGM (Mega Grand Master)? I think the progression from fide to international to grand is illogical anyway so they should revamp the whole system. And anyway the current ELO system is a much better predictor of strength than the titles so why keep them? Maybe some awards could be offered for specific performance (number of category XXXIII tournaments won, blind or speed chess specialisms).

NN's picture

Why is FIDE (World) Master lower than International Master?

NN's picture

'I think the progression from fide to international to grand is illogical anyway so they should revamp the whole system.'
You are completely right. Whoever invented these names obviously did it without any professional care given. There is no historical explanation anywhere in English or Belorussian. I am inclined to think the title fees were the key issues at mind.

Sam's picture

Why not use a star rank similar to what Generals use in the military. 2500 1 star grandmaster. 2600 2 star grandmaster up to 5 star 2900 grandmaster. Tho you only retain the star if you are at the current level.

Dennis Genio "geniokov"'s picture

Changes should be made in Chess titles to improve Chess as a whole! Let me set an example:

2500-2599= 1st Degree GM
2600-2699= 2nd Degree GM
2700-2799= 3rd Degree GM
2800-2899= Lord of Chess (new title)
World Champion= "Grandlord of Chess"(new title)

Now,in order to facilitate improvement in every range,a tournament must be conducted regularly to every participants at that level.Example:

Swiss system or Round Robin for those participants who fall only at their rating range like 2500-2599 and so on.If a player reaches 2600 or more,then he will advance to the next title as per declared by Fide as 2nd Degree GM! This will encourage every chessplayer to improve himself or else he will loose his TITLE!
This approach is similar to Boxing,there is Bantamweight,Middleweight and Heavyweight!
We have to categorize each player according to their strength! Example:

2500 GM´s are probably less stronger than those moves being exerted by chessplayer who are already of 2700+ strength! This is similar in Boxing as the "punch" of a Heavyweight hitting a face of only Middleweight boxers! Logic!

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