How To Become A Chess Grandmaster?

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Okay, let’s come to the point!

In this guide, I’m going to share everything you need to know about how to become a Chess Grandmaster.

Frankly, I’m not a professional chess player but I’m a huge chess enthusiast. I have done complete research to share with you all the facts.

I also interviewed FIDE Master Viktor Neustroev, from the Tricks of Chess YouTube Channel for this article. He has coached his daughter, the Chess Champion of Siberia among girls under 9.

FIDE Master Viktor Neustroev

If you read this guide till the end, all your questions about becoming a chess grandmaster will be answered.

So without further delay, let’s start!

How To Get The Chess Grandmaster Title?

First and foremost, you need to understand FIDE.

FIDE, the World Chess Federation, is an international chess governing body. It gives you a rating based on your performance.

The Grandmaster title is awarded by the FIDE. Apart from World Champion, it is the highest chess title one can achieve in chess, and once achieved, it remains for a lifetime except in cases of cheating.

So first you need to get FIDE ratings and become a FIDE-rated chess player. And for that, you need to play the FIDE-rated chess tournaments.

I already have an in-depth article about how to get a FIDE rating in chess. So you can check that out for further reference.

Now, after you get the required FIDE ratings and required norms (I am going to discuss ahead), you will start achieving the respective chess titles.

Here’s the table showing the chess titles in order with the minimum rating requirement:

Chess TitlesMinimum Ratings
Candidate Master (CM)2200
FIDE Master (FM)2300
International Master (IM)2400
Grandmaster (GM)2500
Reference: FIDE Titles Wikipedia

Note that for achieving the Grandmaster title and International Master title only achieving the FIDE ratings won’t suffice. You will also need to achieve certain norms.

So, what is the norm? A norm basically means a high level of performance in a chess tournament.

To get a grandmaster title, apart from a FIDE rating of at least 2500, you need to achieve 3 GM norms.

How Do You Get A GM Norm?

To get a GM norm a player needs to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Play at least 9 games in the tournament.
  • Play against at least 2 players from the different federations.
  • At least 1/3 with a minimum of 3 of the opponents must be Grandmasters.
  • At least half of the opponents must be titleholders, excluding CM and WCM.
  • The performance rating of the player must be at least 2600.
  • The opponent’s minimum average rating must be 2380.

So this is about achieving 1 GM norm and for the grandmaster title you need 3 such norms.

Also, note that the criteria I shared are the important ones but there are some other criteria as well and even exceptions. For more detailed information you need to check the FIDE Title Regulations – FIDE Handbook.

So, how to become a chess grandmaster? In general, a player requires at least an ELO rating of 2500 at any point and 3 GM norms to become a chess grandmaster. However, the GM title can also be achieved directly by gaining specific results in specific chess tournaments, provided the player has a FIDE rating of over 2300.

According to Wikipedia, you can get the GM title directly (without the usual norm requirement) by winning the Women’s World Championship, World Junior Championship (U20), or the World Senior Championship, provided you have crossed the FIDE rating of 2300.

Here’s the table that shows how you can achieve the GM title directly by getting specific results in specific chess events (provided you cross the FIDE rating of 2300):

Event TypeResultTitle Type
World CupReaching last 16GM
World Senior Championship
(both in 65+ and 50+ division)
World Junior Championship
(Under 20)
Continental Individual
(e.g. European, Asian)
Women’s World ChampionshipWinnerGM
Reference: FIDE table for direct titles

Note, I tried to cover every important point about the rules and regulations of chess titles and the norms but still, there may be exceptions and some extra points. So as I said earlier, refer to the FIDE Title Regulation Handbook, for more detailed and latest information.

Interviewing FIDE Master Viktor Neustroev On How To Become A Chess Grandmaster

So until now, I discussed everything that is required for achieving the grandmaster title. But that is not enough, you might also have some questions related to becoming a GM.

So why not get real-life insights from someone who actually knows better about this.

Therefore, I interviewed FIDE Master Viktor Neustroev. He is a chess coach and author of educational chess courses. He has achieved the FIDE Master title.

Moreover, he has also coached his daughter, the Siberian Chess Champion among girls under 9.

Here’s the interview where FIDE Master Viktor Neustroev answers my questions about becoming a chess grandmaster:

How Long Does It Take To Become A Chess Grandmaster?

You cannot set an exact timing for that.

A lot of chess players could not become GMs, because they do not have enough skills.

Any coach could lead a student to a level up to 1800 if a student is actually eager to study. It is harder to get a level higher than that, but possible.

You need to begin studying from childhood. I would say, if you are not yet a Grandmaster by 14 years old, you might get this title later, but it’s unlikely that you will become the world’s champion.

You still might be able to travel and take part in European tournaments, and earn some money, but it’s probably not going to be big amounts.

Of course, you can be a coach and train other players even if you have a level of 1850.

For example, it took a year for me to go from a level of 2200 to 2300.

I think it would take around 4-5 years to reach a level of 2000-2200 for an adult, though that depends on the person, of course.

I started playing chess when I was 5 and taking part in tournaments at the age of 8. I was a Candidate Master at the age of 12 (this is when I reached 2200 level), I had been playing with that title for 5 years, then I stopped, and after a break, I decided to reach the FIDE master level. It took me a year of intensive studying.

How Hard Is It To Become A Chess Grandmaster?

It seems to me that it is really hard. Some people dedicate their whole life to it.

For example, my friend, Arseniy Korgin, an International Master, has a rating of 2400, and in order to become a Grandmaster, you need 2500 and 3 GM norms.

He only has 2 norms. Right now he is 41 years old and he is trying to get the title, but he could not even though he has the skills.

He tries hard, he is smart and has a good memory, and his experience is pretty good, but it doesn’t work out for now.

Usually, if a chess player reaches a level of 2000, it is already considered a great result.

After that, it is more complicated and serious. You need to study with titled players and Grandmasters. And of course, you need to dedicate all of your time to it.

Probably, it is possible when you’re at school. But when you do that, you start traveling, take part in tournaments in Europe, and there is not much time for school.

There should be an agreement with teachers so that they give you good grades because you’re a good chess player.

The same applies to universities, but not every university might agree to do that.

It is not really possible to concentrate on university studies and play chess professionally at the same time.

You will have to sacrifice school and university a little bit, and no chance of a job during that time. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to make it, it is hard.

Parents have to be able to afford such a lifestyle for their child to become a GM.

On the other hand, if you are an adult with some savings, and you are ready to dedicate your time to becoming a grandmaster – 5-7 years for that, it should work. But usually, people at that age do not put it as a priority – they have a family, children, etc.

How Much Do Grandmaster Chess Players Actually Make?

It depends: in my city Novosibirsk, I would say I make the most among other chess players.

But, for example, chess players in the USA or the UK definitely earn more. It is not enough for an average GM to make a living only by taking part in tournaments.

A GM can earn on streaming, helping other talented GMs by assisting them or coaching others, signing contracts with companies that promote chess, or selling educational courses. You can create articles or develop software.

So it is not very profitable, but it is possible to build a business around it.

But also, you don’t need to become a GM to make a business around it! So in order to earn money, you just need to love chess and do something that is useful and interesting for other people.

When it comes to GMs that only earn money in tournaments, only the first 20 players earn enough. They also usually have sponsors: for example, Daniil Dubov signed a contract with the World of Chess.

Without it, they would have to have a job besides playing. Some of the coaches at the same time.

Based on my experience, I would say an average GM earns around 3000 $ per month, not more. And when they get a family and have some extra expenses, this is not enough.

Can You Become A Chess Grandmaster Without A Coach?

There are a lot of online resources for studying right now that are more affordable than hiring a coach.

As I said, it’s better to start early in childhood, and perhaps when a child is regularly studying at a chess school, offline or online, he could achieve good results.

I myself offer online courses and free webinars that provide a lot of theoretical knowledge in combination with practical exercises. I have also released a free guide on self-studying chess with a lot of tips on that topic.

So if a person is dedicated, self-studying tools would be helpful for him on his way to the title.

I mentioned that becoming a GM as an adult is harder, so in that case, I think you need a coach or another titled player to train you.

Can You Become A Chess Grandmaster If You Start Late?

As I said, there are not many people that have such a goal in their adulthood because of different priorities. But if you’re ready to dedicate several years to it, have some savings and you’re free from everyday work, it should work out.

What Should Be The Training Process For Becoming A Chess Grandmaster?

It’s different for everyone, but mostly you have to study with GMs around 3 times per week for 3 hours, a lot of self-studying.

You should study openings, take part in tournaments regularly, and watch the games of GMs.

All in all, you should practice a lot, like really, a lot! You should focus on studying openings preparation. Get a strong coach that could prepare a good study plan.

What Would You Advice Aspiring Chess Grandmasters?

Do what you love – and if you love chess, which is probably true – study for the title as long as it actually motivates you and gives you pleasure.

There are so many ways to connect your life with chess without a GM norm, as I said, you don’t have to be a GM to earn money with chess. Just keep that in mind.

The interview ends here! 🙂

Author’s Final Words

Finally, I (Pritam, the founder of this website) only want to tell you that if you are strongly determined about becoming a GM, if you believe that you can achieve it and if you have the right resources, then go for it!

Nothing is impossible in life if you are ready to work hard, disciplined and passionate towards your goal.

Find a good chess coach, improve your chess-playing skills, study, research, and develop your knowledge.

Do whatever makes you a better chess player and takes you closer to your ultimate goal of becoming a chess Grandmaster!

So that’s it! Hope you found this article helpful.

Please do share this article with your friends and in your chess community if it was valuable.

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Thanks! My best wishes are with you!