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.
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).
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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