Chess Grand Master – A Chess Grand Master Title

The Chess Grandmaster title is usually awarded to the player who has an ELO rating of more than 2500 at a given point in time. It is not necessary to maintain the ELO rating and the criterion is that the person (he or she) must have the ELO rating of 2500 to qualify for the title. The grandmaster title is obtained after a series of qualifying norms that include a three-stage process. As the players progress through the stages of qualification and keep playing and winning, they qualify for the norm accordingly.

The qualifying process for a chess grandmaster title is through participation in tournaments involving players from the home country as well as other countries. Each win in the tournaments takes the players closer to the title and after an ELO rating of 2400 is reached, the player is eligible for an International Master rating. In the initial stages or in the 1970’s, there were relatively few Chess Grandmaster titleholders. However with the increasing popularity of chess as a game, the number of players with the grandmaster title has grown to such an extent where it is now common to see Grandmasters from all countries.

To take an example, India did not have a Chess Grandmaster till the 1990s though there were several players who came close to the norm. There were international players but they could not make it to the GM norm as there were not enough tournaments to go by.

The tournaments that were held were in the European and erstwhile USSR countries which made it expensive for players from Asian countries like India to participate in them. However, in the 1990’s due to economic reforms and the opening up of markets, the Asian players could compete at an even keel with that of their western counterparts and thus there was an increase in the number of players with the grandmaster title from these countries.

Anyone familiar with Chess would have heard of the famous Grandmasters Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. The rivalry between these two was legendary and was the stuff of legends. They literally dominated the chess scene in the 1980s and became household names due to their playing skills and abilities. An earlier generation would remember the mercurial player Bobby Fischer who was known as much for his talent as well as his eccentric ways.

In recent times, there have been quite a number of women who have aspired to and got the Chess Grandmaster title which was originally a male bastion. It would be interesting to see the evolution of Chess as it grows in popularity and more number of players take to it. However, there have been calls for a rationalization of the GM norms so that the title can be held by those who are at the top of the table going by the current norms.