Chess, unlike most other competitive sports, maintains a system of titles granted to players of exceptional skill and talent. The highest title awarded in the world of bishops and knights is International Grandmaster (GM). While it sounds mysterious, the title’s origins are tied to the conception of mastery, like that of an artist or craftsman who has attained the highest level of achievement recognized by one’s peers.

Prior to the titling system’s formalization in the early 1950s by World Chess Federation, the term Grandmaster existed only as an approbation granted to the very best players in the world. The lore surrounding some of the title’s first usage dates to the last days of the Russian Empire when Tsar Nicholas II held a tournament of “grossmeisters” (German for Grandmasters). That title was never formally given. Chess had always been informal through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Such informality even allowed World Champions to avoid challengers who might beat them or to play against lesser contenders to assure themselves the retention of the crown.

In 1946, international chess would find itself in a crisis and in need of a more formal structure after the death of World Champion Alexander Alekhine. Although the Soviet Challenger Mikhail Botvinnik had offered the best sponsorship and funding for a match with Alekhine, events and politics made the hosting of a World Championship match impossible during WWII.

The postwar era opened the door for the World Chess Federation to regulate the many aspects of the game that, up until that point, had been informal or ad hoc. Its rules committee authored a new version the Laws of Chess universalizing international chess competition. It regularized the system under which players could qualify and play for the World Championship, and held a large, international tournament in 1948 to crown a new champion after Alekhine’s death. Finally, it created a set of rules for the granting of titles to chess players.

In 1950, two new titles were created: International Grandmaster and International Master (IM). Similar to university degrees, these titles were a hierarchical system with GM higher than IM, and once earned, the bearer would hold his or her title for life. To earn each title, a player must achieve three quality performances, each known as a norm, in tournaments meeting a strict set of regulations on the composition of the player pool.

In general terms, to earn one norm:

  • a player needs to score quantifiably well in a tournament where at least three other players already hold the title being sought
  • the average rating of all the players in the tournament must be above a minimum threshold (2380 average for GM norms)
  • a minimum of four national federations must be represented

After all three norms are earned, the player must achieve rating over 2500 for GM or 2400 for IM.

These rules for chess titles created a natural break on their proliferation. In the 1950s, only about 50 Grandmasters existed. The international nature of norm qualified tournaments meant strong events held in the United States or the Soviet Union often would not consist of required number of foreign or titled players. It was not until after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with its exodus of Eastern European and Russian players to the West, that the GM title started to spread more widely. Today, there are more than 1,000 Grandmasters worldwide. To put that number in perspective, it is estimated (2012) that around 600 million people play chess worldwide.

Although norm tournaments have become more common in the United States in the last few decades, they are still onerous to organize because the of the time commitment required and the resources needed to attract foreign or titled players. But norm tournaments are essential for the promotion of professional chess, as they are often the first introduction players have to invitational round-robin tournament chess and only way to earn international titles. Those who earn the GM title can trace a line to the past and count themselves among chess’ elite players.

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Jan 13, 2017

Analyzing your games is one of the main ways of improving in chess

Analyzing your games is one of the main ways of improving in chess. During this procedure you will be able to pinpoint your typical mistakes, as well as weaknesses & strengths. Your games are your business card in the world of chess.

Each person has their own approach to game analysis. Nevertheless, there are some common traits. When communicating with other chess players, I often learn new interesting ideas. The article offers some of the methods for you to consider.

There are two types of analysis – preliminary and deep. The first type is performed right after the game has been played, before the next round. The second one takes place after the end of the tournament.

Preliminary analysis

After the game has been played, it is useful to discuss it with the opponent. Nowadays this tradition is becoming less popular for a number of reasons. One of the common arguments is “why should I care what the patzer thinks, if I can go home and have the engine show me the right options?”. This snobbish reasoning doesn’t make much sense, because we humans learn by exchanging ideas and comparing opinions. If you understand why your partner made a good/bad move, it will help you much more than if you just take a look at the line suggested by your engine. Also, computers don’t give practical advice (“here you had weak light squares, so I decided to trade bishops and fix your pawns on certain squares to attack them in the upcoming endgame”). An interpreter is required to explain the ideas behind computer’s moves. At the recent Grand Prix in London you might have seen the world’s leading players hold post-mortem discussions. Notably, men are more likely to analyze games together than women. Of course, it is important not to overdo. For example, if you are playing in a demanding tournament (many rounds, 2 games per day), you might need to save yourself some time and energy. Try to find the right balance.

Second round: preliminary analysis at home (hotel room). Optimally, you should have a chess engine and a coach/second/friend to discuss the game with. Sometimes you can skip the post-mortem with your opponent, but this second round is a must. Don’t get too carried away: at this stage your goal is to fix some critical mistakes (bad time management, forgotten opening lines, poor tactics vision, etc.) in order to avoid them in the following rounds. Important: you have to review ALL the games. Some people think that if they won quickly, then there is nothing to look at – everything was great. Or, another shortcoming, some people don’t want to review their losses, because it depresses them. A strong chess player should be merciless towards himself, but in a constructive way: don’t blame yourself, just try to perform better next time.

How does one analyze? There are many options. Some people write down their emotions and plans that they had in mind during the game. Others simply jot down the main lines they had been calculating. It depends on your working style and on the amount of time that you have at your disposal.  Also, you should assess your emotional state before and after the game. This will help you see the whole picture. As you all know, psychology plays a vital role in chess.

After a preliminary analysis you should leave the game alone and start preparing for the next round. Don’t waste your energy on things that don’t matter anymore: “could I have saved that endgame?”, “what if I played c5 instead of e5 on move 1?”, “is there a middlegame plan that could have helped me trick the opponent?”. Also, don’t get too upset about losses/missed wins. What’s done cannot be undone. You can’t change the past, but you can affect the future.

Deep analysis

When the tournament is over, you can start working on increasing your chess mastery by correcting the weak spots in your game. Again, there are numerous ways of doing it. For example, you can start by analyzing the game yourself and then check your ideas with the chess engine. If you are lazy or don’t have enough time, you can analyze with the chess engine right away (not recommended for sub-master level). Performing some sort of automatic analysis is a strict no-no (some chess engines have those seemingly appealing modes – “the computer will take 30 seconds to review each of your moves and offer recommendations”). Your brain will degrade if you rely too much on computer evaluations. Remember that a PC won’t be at your fingertips during the tournament, so you have to learn to make choices on your own, without the guidance of our electronic assistants. Also, like I have already mentioned, we have to enhance our experience and knowledge by understanding certain principles and game situations, while computers have a unique solution to each particular situation. We can’t afford to follow in their footsteps, because our calculative skills are much worse.

During deep analysis you should find new ideas, the right continuations, outright blunders and hidden inaccuracies. Also, like a doctor, you should come up with a diagnosis: how the game proceeded, why, what “medicines” you should self-prescribe. Of course, having a coach is also helpful, because not all of us have the required expertise and objectivity.

By comparing your preliminary and deep analysis you can arrive at the right conclusions on what was going on, what you did wrong and why. Reminder: apart from the moves, ponder your psychological and physical states. Sometimes there are trivial matters that greatly affect the playing strength: you were nervous after being late for the game and having to run from the hotel room to the tournament hall; you didn’t eat well enough; your opponent won three games against you before, so your brain mentally gave up in advance, etc.

Chess is a complicated game, so even a deep analysis can sometimes include mistakes. For example, you might remember how the readers of Garry Kasparov’s “My great predecessors” books used to send him their suggestions and improvements which were included in the later editions. However, while perfection knows no limits, studying your own games carefully is the key to becoming a better player.


Feb 20, 2023

WR Chess Masters

World no. 2 Ian Nepomniachtchi will get a chance to warm-up for the World Championship match as a new classical supertournament, the WR Chess Masters, starts in Dusseldorf, Germany today. He’ll face Tata Steel Masters winner Anish Giri, runner-up Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and the same army of kids that didn’t quite dominate in Wijk aan Zee.

The tournament is tailor-made for Ian Nepomniachtchi to get some practice at classical chess before he starts his World Championship match against Ding Liren on April 9th.  It’s the first time Ian has played classical chess since the Sinquefield Cup in December, and the long time control is exactly the one that will be used in Kazakhstan, including the absence of an increment before move 61.

See also:

Mar 22, 2022

Chess Calendar 2022

Below we’ve gathered together all the info about the major chess events already scheduled for 2022, though we’ll be updating it during the year as more events are announced or plans change. Let us know in the comments below if there’s something we’re missing!

Current and future events:

March 2022

March 19 – 26 | Charity Cup | chess24

The second of six Regular events on the $1.6 million 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is being held as a fundraiser for UNICEF and their work helping children in and around Ukraine. Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren and Richard Rapport are the Top 10 stars in action, with Richard making his debut on the Tour. There are also debuts for David Navara and Lei Tingjie.

Links: official website, Charity Cup Prelims


March 21 – April 4 | FIDE Grand Prix 3 | Berlin, Germany

The 3rd and final event of the 24-player Grand Prix series, that determines the final two places in the 2022 Candidates Tournament.

Links: official website

March 27 – April 6 | European Individual Chess Championship | Terme Catez, Slovenia

The European Chess Championship is a prestigious title to win, but for many players the event functions mainly as a qualifier for the FIDE World Cup. There are 20 places in that event up for grabs.

Links: official website

April 2022

April 6 – 12 | Reykjavik Open | Reykjavik, Iceland

The Reykjavik Open had to be cancelled in 2020, while in 2021 it functioned as the European Championship. In 2022 it’s returning to its old format as an Open tournament and also plans to return to its traditional venue, the Harpa Music and Conference Centre.

Links: official website

April 9 – 10 | Chess Bundesliga | Germany

This German Chess League is the strongest season-long team event in chess, featuring 16 teams who play each other over 15 rounds spread over a number of weekends in venues across Germany. The planned January start for this year’s event was put back to March over Coronavirus concerns.

Links: official websitechess24

April 20 – 28 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 3: 1st Major | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the first Major on the 2022 Tour, which also features six Regular events and two more Majors. More details soon.

Links: official website

April 20 – 29 | The American Cup | Saint Louis, USA

A new event featuring two 8-player knockout tournaments, with the twist that players are only knocked out if they lose two matches. If they lose one they drop down to an elimination bracket but still have a chance to win the tournament.

Links: official website

April 27 – May 8 | Mitropa Chess Club Cup | Corte, Corsica, France

The Mitropa Chess Club Cup is an annual team tournament organised by ten chess federations in Central Europe.

April 30 – May 4 | World Youth Rapid and Blitz Championship | Greece

The World Youth Rapid and Blitz Championship will be held in Under 8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18 age categories.

May 2022

May 1 – 10 | Russian Team Championships | Sochi, Russia

The Russian Team Championships in Sochi are traditionally one of the world’s strongest team events, though in 2021 it was notable that the top tournament featured no players at all from outside Russia. That’s likely to change in 2022, if the pandemic allows.

Links: official website

May 3 – 9 | Tepe Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament | Malmo, Sweden

The 8-player single round-robin is back with Swedish no. 1 Nils Grandelius joined by the likes of David Navara, Alexei Shirov, Jorden van Foreest, Salem Saleh and Arjun Erigaisi.

Links: official website

May 4 – 14 | Superbet Chess Classic Romania | Bucharest, Romania

The first event on the 5-event $1.4 million Grand Chess Tour is a 10-player classical round-robin with a $350,000 prize fund.

Links: official website

May 5 – 16 | World Senior Team Championship | Acqui Terme, Italy

The World Senior Team Championship for teams in 50+ and 65+ age categories was postponed from 2021 to 2022 due to the pandemic.

May 18 – 23 | Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland | Warsaw, Poland

The second tournament of the 5-event $1.4 million Grand Chess Tour is a 10-player event featuring three days of rapid chess (25+10) followed by two days of blitz (3+2), with a $175,000 prize fund.

Links: official website

May 19 – 26 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 4 | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the third of six Regular events on the 2022 Tour, which will also feature three Majors. More details soon.

Links: official website

May 30 – June 11 | Norway Chess | Stavanger, Norway

Norway Chess is one of the few major international chess events to continue during the pandemic, though with a reduced 6-player field in both 2020 and 2021. If Magnus Carlsen plays he’ll be bidding for a 5th Norway Chess title, and a 4th in a row.

Links: official website

June 2022

June 7 – 17 | Prague International Chess Festival | Prague, Czech Republic

This will be the 4th edition of the Prague Chess Festival, one of the brightest recent additions to the chess calendar. As well as the Masters, won in 2020 by Alireza Firouzja and in 2021 by Sam Shankland, there’s likely to be a Challengers, Futures and also an Open.

Links: official website

June 17 – July 5 | Candidates Tournament | Madrid, Spain

The Candidates Tournament is an 8-player, 14-round event that will decide who earns the right to face Magnus Carlsen in the 2023 World Chess Championship match. A welcome change this year is that a tie for 1st place will be decided by a playoff and not by mathematical tiebreakers, though it’s worth noting that if Magnus decides not to play the match, then a tie for 2nd place would matter more, since the top two will go on to play the match.

The tournament will feature Ian Nepomniachtchi (2021 runner-up), Jan-Krzysztof Duda (World Cup winner), Sergey Karjakin (World Cup runner-up), Alireza Firouzja (Grand Swiss winner), Fabiano Caruana (Grand Swiss runner-up), Teimour Radjabov (wildcard after turning down his chance to play in 2020) and two players from the FIDE Grand Prix.

June 25 – July 6 | Russian Championship Higher League | Bryansk, Russia

The top five Open and Women’s players from this formidable open qualify for the Russian Chess Championship Superfinals later in the year.

Links: official website

July 2022

July 10 – 17 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 5 | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the fourth of six Regular events on the 2022 Tour, which will also feature three Majors. More details soon.

Links: official website

July 11 – 22 | Biel International Chess Festival | Biel/Bienne, Switzerland

The 55th edition of the Biel International Chess Festival will again have as its centrepiece a grandmaster tournament where the players will compete in classical, rapid and blitz chess, with points combined, while a Chess960 event acts as the tiebreaker.

Links: official website

July 16 – 24 | Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Trophy | Dortmund, Germany

The headline tournament of this traditional event will again this year feature No Castles Chess, with Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand joined by Krishnan Sasikiran and Daniel Fridman for the No Castling World Masters. There will also be a strong 8-player German Grand Prix as well as open tournaments.

Links: official website

July 19 – 26 | SuperUnited Croatia Grand Chess Tour Rapid & Blitz | Zagreb, Croatia

The third tournament on the 5-event $1.4 million Grand Chess Tour is a 10-player event featuring three days of rapid chess (25+10) followed by two days of blitz (3+2), with a $175,000 prize fund.

Links: official website

July – August | World Chess Olympiad | Chennai, India

The World Chess Olympiad has been a biennial event since 1950, but the pandemic prevented it being held over-the-board in 2020 or 2021, so that the 2022 Olympiad will be the first since 2018 in Batumi, Georgia. Between the Open and Women’s events there are likely to be over 300 teams and more than 1500 players involved. Minsk, Belarus was originally awarded the tournament, but that was then changed to Moscow, Russia and later Chennai, India.

China are the defending champions in both the Open and the Women’s sections, but the addition of Levon Aronian will give the USA a boost, while France now have both Alireza Firouzja and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Perennial top seeds Russia look set to be excluded after the war in Ukraine.

August 2022

August 12 – 20 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 6: 2nd Major | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the second Major on the 2022 Tour, which will also feature six Regular events and another Major. More details soon.

Links: official website

August 13 – 21 | British Championship | Torquay, England

The 118th British Chess Championship is taking place at the seaside resort of Torquay.

Links: official website

August 20 – 31 | European Women’s Chess Championship | Prague, Czech Republic

The European Women’s Individual Chess Championship both decides the European Women’s Champion and acts as a qualifying event for the FIDE Women’s World Cup.

August 24 – 30 | Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz | Saint Louis, USA

The fourth tournament on the 5-event $1.4 million Grand Chess Tour is a 10-player event featuring three days of rapid chess (25+10) followed by two days of blitz (3+2), with a $175,000 prize fund.

Links: official website

September 2022

September 1 – 15 | Sinquefield Cup | Saint Louis, USA

The fifth and final event on the $1.4 million Grand Chess Tour is the Sinquefield Cup, a 10-player classical round-robin with a $350,000 prize fund.

Links: official website

September 5 – 18 | World Youth (U14-18) Championship | Mamaia, Romania

These will be the first World Youth Championships held over-the-board since 2019, after the pandemic pushed the 2020 and 2021 events online.

September 11 – 23 | Russian Chess Championship | Cheboksary, Russia

The Open and Women’s Russian Chess Championships are both 12-player round-robins.

Links: official website

September 10 – 25 | Asian Games | Hangzhou, China

Chess will feature as one of the mind sports in this major Asian sporting event held once every four years.

Links: official website

September 18 – 25 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 7 | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the fifth of six Regular events on the 2022 Tour, which will also feature three Majors. More details soon.

Links: official website

October 2022

October 2 – 10 | European Chess Club Cup | Mayrhofen, Austria

The annual European Chess Club Cup, which in 2018 and 2021 was the last classical event Magnus Carlsen played before a World Championship match, is a 7-round event for teams that have previously competed in European national leagues.

October 13 – 20 | Russian Rapid and Blitz Championships | Sochi, Russia

Russian players compete for rapid and blitz titles both individually and in team competitions.

Links: official website

October 14 – 21 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 8 | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the sixth and final Regular event on the 2022 Tour, which also features three Majors. More details soon.

Links: official website

October 23 – 26 | European Women’s Rapid & Blitz Championship | Kyiv, Ukraine

Female players from European Chess Federations compete in rapid and blitz chess.

November 2022

November 11 – 20 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 9: 3rd Major | chess24

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is back with Magnus Carlsen looking to defend the title he won in the inaugural $1.6 million tour. This is the 3rd and final Major and will bring an end to the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. More details soon.

Links: official website

November 15 – 28 | World Senior Championship | Assisi, Italy

The World Senior Chess Championship for 50+ and 65+ players are planned to be held for the first time since 2019.

November 30 – December 4 | Russian Rapid Grand Prix Final | Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia

A knockout tournament among the best performing players in the Russian Rapid Grand Prix series of events.

Links: official website

December 2022

December 4 – 13 | Russian Cup Final | Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia

Open and Women’s knockout tournaments featuring the top players in the Russian Cup series of events.

Links: official website