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Chess IM vs GM International Master vs Grandmaster


Chess is one of the oldest board games that reportedly dates back to 600 A.D. Regardless of whether you’re a pro or a beginner at chess, you’ve probably heard the terms Grandmaster (GM) or International Master (IM) when it comes to competitions.  


With so many chess terms thrown around, it can be confusing keeping track of what all of them mean. What exactly is the difference between a Chess IM, a GM International Master, and a Grandmaster? 


Chess IM and GM are the two highest ranks awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to individuals who achieve an exceptional level of skill in the game. Learning from these professionals and understanding how they play their games can improve your skills exponentially.


Let’s dive into what makes up the differences between Chess Im vs GM to help you better understand and appreciate the game, regardless of your skill level.


You might also like: How Many Chess Grandmasters Are There?

Table of Contents

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions to help you further understand International Masters and Grandmasters in chess. 

What Is Higher Than Grandmaster in Chess?

World Champion is considered the highest title a chess player can attain, even higher than Grandmaster. However, it’s not an official title awarded by the FIDE. It’s the highest level of achievement a player can acquire by winning the World Chess Championship tournament.

quotation marks

World Champion is considered the highest title a chess player can attain, even higher than Grandmaster.

Can International Masters Beat Grandmasters?

Yes, International Masters can beat Grandmasters. GMs are usually considered stronger players than IMs. However, an IM has defeated a GM in high-level competitions many times in the past, including the World Chess Championship. 

This is possible due to many factors besides skill, such as nerves, psychological warfare, and fatigue during the tournament.

Do I Need a High IQ to be Good at Chess?

No, you don’t need a high IQ to be good at chess. Although having a high IQ can be advantageous, your chess skill depends on other factors like study and practice. 

Moreover, cognitive abilities acquired during training, like visualization and pattern recognition, also play a huge role in your chess abilities.

Chess IM vs GM

Chess Master Titles and What They Mean

Today, there are several levels of Chess Master titles recognized by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), each with its own set of requirements and qualifications.


These titles represent a player’s proficiency in chess, acquired from experience, analyzing games, and participating in tournaments against chess players of all strengths.


Each title is different depending on the chess player’s rating. Here are some chess master titles that explain how rankings affect the players and their titles.

Chess International Master

The term “International Master” was introduced by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in 1950 as part of a new system of chess titles. 


To become an International Master, a player must achieve a FIDE rating of 2400 or above and achieve three performance norms in FIDE-rated tournaments. According to the FIDE handbook, a norm is nine games. Thus, a player must achieve norms in 27 games to be eligible for the title.


International Master is the second-highest chess title, above both Candidate Master (CM) and FIDE Master (FM).

GM International Master

GM International Master (or Grandmaster International Master) was the original term for a Chess Grandmaster. It has fallen out of use lately and competitions use the term Grandmaster now. 


Grandmaster is the highest title awarded by the FIDE. Once you achieve this title, you can keep it for life unless revoked due to cheating. 


The primary difference between an IM and GM in chess is the total points earned from tournaments. To become a GM, a player must acquire a FIDE rating of a minimum of 2500. Moreover, the player must achieve at least three GM norms or 27 games to be eligible.


A GM’s score may dip below 2500 during their tournaments. However, they don’t have to keep their score at 2500 throughout their career to keep this title. Instead, the favorable results are counted and used to maintain GM status. 


In addition to the formal GM title, there also exists a Super Grandmaster title. Although this is not an official title recognized by the FIDE, it’s used informally to describe players who achieve about 2700 points in their careers. 


You might also like: What is a Chess Grandmaster? And How Do They Become One?

Chess IM vs GM

Women’s Titles

Although chess tournaments aren’t gender-specific, there are additional titles for high-ranking female competitors awarded by the FIDE. In addition to women-only competitions, female chess players can also participate in open tournaments against men without restriction.


The point threshold for women-only titles is a slightly different than the open titles. To achieve the title Woman Grandmaster (WGM), a player must acquire a minimum rating of 2300 and achieve at least three WGM norms. 


Moreover, a player must have a minimum rating of 2200 and achieve at least three WIM norms to acquire the title Woman International Master (WIM).

If you want to learn how to play chess, check out Amphy’s course with Woman Grandmaster, Myroslava Hrabinska.

Main Takeaways

International Master and Grandmaster are the highest ranks in chess awarded by the FIDE. The main distinguishing factor between the two levels is the FIDE rating: an IM needs a minimum rating of 2400, whereas a GM needs a 2500 rating or above to be eligible for the title.


Understanding the key differences between a Chess IM vs GM can inspire even the newest chess player. So, do you think you have what it takes to earn one of these titles someday? Why not start by taking a class for beginners and learning from experts in the field? Learn from a professional to help make your dream of earning a chess master title a reality!

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