Stay in touch!

Never miss out on the latest articles and get sneak peeks of our favorite classes.

What is a Chess Grandmaster? And How Do They Become One?


The top chess players in the world can become chess grandmasters. The goal isn’t easy to achieve, as fewer than 2,000 players globally can boast that they have earned the title. Despite the challenges of becoming a chess grandmaster, it is an achievable goal, but it takes time and dedication.

How to Become a Grandmaster

The first step in becoming a grandmaster (after playing a serious amount of chess) is consulting the International Chess Federation (FIDE) handbook. This book clearly explains the rules and steps to move through the international ranks in the chess world.

quote icon
It is possible to become a grandmaster with dedication, drive, and thousands of hours of chess.

Top chess players need to achieve two goals to become a grandmaster: earn a FIDE rating over 2500 and win a specific number of GM norms. 


A GM norm is a tournament against other titled chess players. Interestingly, to win a GM norm, you must have a 2600 rating in a tournament with at least nine rounds against a formidable collection of other top chess players. At least half of the entrants should have titles like FM (FIDE Master), IM (International Master), CM (Candidate Master), and more. Some of them must also be chess grandmasters (GM).

chess lessons

What is a Chess Grandmaster?

The chess grandmaster title is the highest title a player can earn. Once a chess player is named a grandmaster, they never lose the title. Other than this title, the final goal for a chess player is to win a world championship. Players earn this title by winning the most challenging tournaments. Most chess grandmasters become professional chess players. 

Chess Grandmaster

How to Achieve the Grandmaster Title

Before you can enter into any GM norms, you’ve got to play a serious amount of chess. 

Start Playing Chess Early

The current chess grandmasters started playing the game before they turned three. Some began at age five. You don’t have to be a child prodigy to become a chess grandmaster, but it helps to play for several years. 


Young players have more pliable brains and learn and memorize patterns more easily. Grandmasters need to know around 100,000 chess patterns to beat the best players in the world. 

Become a Learner 

Even if you already know how to play chess, you’ve got to prepare your mind to take your game to the next level. You’ve got to learn how to learn, so you can continue trying to win, even if you lose.


The best chess players develop a learning process. They practice, repeat plays, learn the spaces of the chessboard, and schedule their moves. The game is a science, so learners have to figure out how to train their brains to understand the game beyond short-term memory of moves. The game needs to become embedded in the mind. 

Develop Opening Moves

Becoming a grandmaster involves breaking the game into workable parts. Top players need to have a plethora of unexpected opening moves with several tactical ideas in mind. They need to know how to change their tactics during the game. Then, they need to know how to master the end moves. 


Novice chess players learn opening moves, so grandmasters need to know all openings. With opening knowledge, they can figure out what their opponents are doing and how to defeat them. Grandmasters know that their opponents study their moves. So, expert players have plenty of surprises so they can topple the most educated opponents. 

man and woman playing chess

Think Tactically

Chess tacticians know how to predict the next moves and respond to them. They need to have a chess sense that can only come from playing thousands of games and learning about the variety of movements, openings, and endgames. The grandmasters also can surprise because all grandmasters have the same abilities to defeat other grandmasters. 


Here’s an example video example of using tactics to your advantage. 



Know the Positions

Strategic or positional chess needs to be a part of the grandmaster’s tool belt. They need to know where pieces can move throughout the game, including how the pawns can change the game. Having positional chess knowledge gives players the ability to see several moves in advance. Their opponents will have this knowledge after years of studying other grandmasters. 

Have Endgame Knowledge

It’s not enough to know how to start and play in the middle of a chess match. The best players can end a game with skill. They need to use every piece to win at the end, even pawns. They also need to know how to identify their opponents’ endgame strategies

Study the Grandmasters

While you’re on your way to becoming a grandmaster, you’ll benefit from learning how grandmasters begin, play, and end games. You’ll need to memorize their strategies and tactical moves throughout each game. If you show any weakness, your opponents will capitalize on it.

You can recognize weaknesses in your opponents by watching for them in the grandmaster games you memorize. You can learn more about grandmaster games by watching them on video, playing them out on your board, and talking to grandmasters. You can better understand the winning moves when you know what techniques work for you. 

Develop a Winning Mindset

You can study games and learn moves, but if your mind isn’t in the right place, all that work is for naught. When you play in tournaments, the room will be noisy, and people will watch you. Can you survive that pressure? If the answer is no, then you’ll never become a grandmaster. 

Learn to Analyze Your Work

You will make mistakes, so you’ve got to learn from them. Rather than beating yourself up over the losses, develop a strategy to learn from your errors. Make yourself better by learning to analyze your work. 

Chess Grandmaster


Achieving the title of chess grandmasters can be a lifelong journey. The goal is a challenge that very few people achieve. The best chess players teach themselves how to learn the game, so they can use winning moves with the element of surprise. It is possible to become a grandmaster with dedication, drive, and thousands of hours of chess. 

Share this article
Back to top