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Grandmaster title in chess

Grandmaster – the highest rank in chess and checkers. In 1949, the International Chess Federation established the title of “International Grandmaster”. Starting next year, this title began to be awarded to men, and since 1976 to women.

The first chess player to be named grandmaster was Briton William Lewis. That is how he was presented by the London newspaper Bella Life in his February 18, 1838 issue. The next time the word “grandmaster” was mentioned already in the twentieth century. In 1914, at a tournament in St. Petersburg, the Russian emperor Nicholas II named the five finalists as grandmasters. At the beginning of the twentieth century, chess players who won more or less significant tournaments at least once were called grandmasters.

July 24, 1924 in Paris was formed the International Chess Federation – FIDE. But, for a quarter century after that, the title of “grandmaster” was not assigned to anyone. In our country, the grandmaster title was officially established in 1927. Two years later, he was awarded the champion of the Soviet Union Boris Berlin. The 42-year-old Berlin was distinguished by the fact that 4 years earlier at the First Moscow International Tournament he sensationally defeated the famous Capablanca.

In 1931, the title “Grandmaster” in the USSR was abolished. However, after 4 years he was revived again. After that, for the first time, Mikhail Botvinnik was awarded this honorary title (in the same year for a successful performance at the 2nd Moscow International Tournament). The second grandmaster was Grigory Levenfish. This happened in 1937 after Levenfish retained the title of champion of the Soviet Union after a draw with Botvinnik. After 3 years, the All-Union Committee on Physical Culture and Sports under the Council of the National Economy of the USSR approved the first regulation on the title of grandmaster.

Then, throughout the existence of the USSR, the title of grandmaster was awarded to the winners and prize-winners of the country’s championships (if they did not already have this title). After that, the chess player received the title of international grandmaster. Participation in major international tournaments was possible only after successful appearances at all-Union competitions.

The title of grandmaster was awarded for life. In exceptional cases, the leadership of the Soviet Union could deprive him. Such a fate awaited in 1976, Viktor Korchnoi. In addition to the title of Grandmaster, he was also deprived of the titles of Honored Master of Sports of the USSR and Master of Sports in Chess.

To obtain the title of international grandmaster, it is necessary to score three grandmaster points within three years or to fulfill the grandmaster norm during an international tournament. So, in the World Cup you need to take a place from 1st to 6th, in the final tournament of the World Cup – from 1st to 4th, in the European Championship – from 1st to 3rd. In the final tournament of the European Cup and in other international competitions included in the Unified Schedule, you must become a winner.

Also, in order to become a grandmaster, you need the Russian chess player rating to reach 2600 (for men) and 2400 (for women). This rating is calculated based on the results of official competitions.

In the first half of the 20th century, chess players such as Alekhine, Capablanca, Bernstein, Widmar, Zemish, Marshall, Nimtsovich, Rubinstein, Reshevsky and others were considered as grandmasters. The first titles of international grandmaster in 1950 were awarded to 27 chess players. Among them are Botvinnik, Smyslov, Bronstein, Widmar, Zemish, Kotov, Levenfish, Rubinstein, Maroci, Szabo.
The following year, this honorary title was received by Bogolyubov and Grigorich. Of the famous chess players, Tigran Petrosyan became a grandmaster in 1952, Boris Spassky in 1955, Victor Korchnoi in 1956, Mikhail Tal in 1957, Bobby Fischer in 1958, Lajosh Portish in 1961, Lev Polugaevsky in 1962, Anatoly Karpov – in 1970, Rafael Vaganyan, Lubomir Lyuboevich and Robert Hubner in 1971, Jan Timman in 1974, Alexander Belyavsky in 1975, Garry Kasparov and Yasser Seiravan in 1980, Leo Psakhis and Raul Sanguineti in 1982, Nigel Short in 1984 , Viswanathan Anand, Vasily Ivanchuk and Miguel Illescas – in 1988, Michael Adams, Evgeny Bareev and Boris Gelfand – in 1989.

After the formation of FIDE, the first world champion was Mikhail Botvinnik. Then the most powerful chess players on the planet were Vasily Smyslov (1957-1958), Mikhail Tal (1960-1961), Tigran Petrosyan (1963-1969), Boris Spassky (1969-1972), Robert (Bobby) Fisher (1972-1975), Anatoly Karpov (1975-1985), Garry Kasparov (1985-1993).

In 1993, a split occurred in the chess world. World champion Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short, accusing FIDE of lack of professionalism and corruption, left this organization. After that, they founded the Professional Chess Association (PSA). Kasparov was stripped of the title of world champion. After that, the World Championships were held both according to FIDE and PSA.

According to FIDE, the world champions became: Anatoly Karpov (1993-1999), Alexander Khalifman (1999-2000), Viswanathan Anand (2000-2002), Ruslan Ponomarev (2002-2004), Rustam Kasymzhanov (2004-2005).

Alexander Alekhine ©
Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine. Born October 19 (31), 1892 in Moscow - died March 24, 1946 in Estoril (Portugal). Ingenious chess player, fourth world chess champion. The doctor is right. Alexander…


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