How Many Chess Grandmasters Are There? 

how many chess grandmasters are there

As a chess player, I know how esteemed the grandmaster rank is for us. After all, isn’t every chess player dreaming of achieving the title someday?

If you’ve recently set foot on your chess learning journey, you ought to know about the great chess grandmaster of our time. Besides this, it is also important to learn how many chess grandmasters there are.

Otherwise, how will you know what footsteps you’re following!

What is the Grandmaster Title in Chess?

The Grandmaster is a title given by the FIDE or the International Chess Federation. It’s the most important chess title before winning the world chess championship.

In the year 1950, the FIDE made it into an official title.

It was inaugurated by the world champion Mikhail Botvinnik and other top players of the time like Igor Bondarevsky and David Bronstein, etc.

A chess player needs a 2500 Elo rating and two favorable norms from 27 games to become a chess grandmaster.

The Grandmaster with the highest Elo rating is Magnus Carlsen, with a 2864 rating.

Magnus Carlsen - chess grandmaster
Magnus Carlsen (Image credits:

How Many Chess Grandmasters are there?

At present, according to FIDE, there are 1756 grandmasters in the world. However, there are only 1227 active grandmasters.

Once a chess player achieves the grandmaster title, they remain a grandmaster for life.

According to the November 2021 FIDE rating list, there were 1742 grandmasters in total. The rating list keeps changing and updating as per the addition of new grandmasters.

Who was the First Chess Grandmaster in the History of Chess?

In 1950, the FIDE awarded the “Grandmaster” title officially for the first time to 27 legendary chess players.

first chess grandmaster
(Image courtesy: FIDE)

Ossip Bernstein (France), Mikhail Botvinnik (USSR), David Bronstein (USSR), Isaac Boleslavsky (USSR), and Jacques Mieses (Britain) were amongst the first 27 grandmasters.

Who are the Youngest Chess Grandmasters?

David Bronstein
David Bronstein (Image credit:

David Bronstein was the first youngest Grandmaster at the age of 26 in 1950, followed by Tigran Petrosian (23). Boris Spassky broke the record (1955) when he was 18 years old.

The legendary Bobby Fischer became the youngest Grandmaster (15 years old) in 1858. 

Abhimanyu Mishra - youngest grandmaster
Abhimanyu Mishra (Image courtesy:

Abhimanyu Mishra is the youngest Grandmaster who received the title at 12 years and 4 months in 2021.

Before him, it was the Russian chess player Sergey Karjakin who held the record since 2002 by being the youngest Grandmaster at the age of 13.

In 1978, Nona Gaprindashvili became the youngest female Grandmaster by claiming the title at the age of 37.

Now, the youngest female Grandmaster is Hou Yifan claiming the title at the age of 14.

Grandmasters Whose Titles were Taken Back

The “Grandmaster” title is given for life. However, it’s revoked if caught cheating during any game.

It is also taken back if the FIDE committee finds it against the ethical principles of the title and the rating system.

GM Gaioz Nigalidze was stripped of the title “grandmaster” at the 2015 Dubai Open when he was caught with a phone in a bathroom stall.

Another grandmaster, Igors Rausis, was caught cheating with the help of technology in a bathroom stall at the Strasbourg Open in 2020.

According to a news report, he tried to participate once again using a false identity while serving the 60-years ban from FIDE.

How Many Female Grandmasters and How Many Women Chess Grandmasters are there?

First, let me clear the difference between Female grandmasters and Women’s Chess grandmasters.

The female players who earned the “Grandmaster” title given by FIDE are female Grandmasters. On the contrary, the “Women Chess Grandmaster” is a separate woman grandmaster title.

Female chess grandmaster
(Image credits: FIDE)

In the picture, you’re looking at one of the most powerful female grandmasters in the world–Alisa Maric.

According to FIDE’s November 2021 ranking, there are 39 female Grandmasters.

Again, there are 319 chess players with the title “Women Chess Grandmaster.” Amongst the 319 players, only 166 are active players.

What are the Chess Titles other than G.M.?

Candidate Master (CM)

A chess player needs a 2200 Elo rating to become a candidate master. It was introduced by FIDE back in the year of 2002.

FIDE Master (FM)

One needs a 2300 Elo rating to become a FIDE master. Alekhine Nouri won this title at the age of 7, becoming the youngest ever in this category.

International Master (IM)

The title International Master was officially initiated along with the G.M. title in 1950. It is bestowed upon extraordinary chess players who are below the level of Grandmaster.

A chess player needs a 2400 Elo rating to receive this title.

There are also other ways of claiming the title. Some of the norms include winning the FIDE World Cup, Women’s World Championship, World Junior Championship, World Junior Championship, etc.

Super Grandmaster

It is an informal title used for the top chess players in the chess world. Generally, a player is called a Super Grandmaster after crossing the Elo rating 2700.

For instance, Magnus Carlsen has a 2864 Elo rating as per the 2022 ranking. Therefore, Magnus Carlsen is a Super grandmaster.

Top Chess Federations: Countries in Grandmaster Ranking

1. Russia

There are 243 chess Grandmasters in Russia. Besides the overwhelming number of chess geniuses, the average of their grandmaster ranking is even more record-breaking–it’s 2728.

The highest-rated Russian Grandmaster is Ian Nepomniachtchi, with 2773.

Russian Grandmaster
(image courtesy:

2. The U.S.A.

The average rating of the United States of America is 2726 on March 2022. They are ranking second worldwide as per the FIDE rating.

The American chess player with the highest Elo rating is Levon Aronian, with a 2780 rating.

3. China

Many chess fans were surprised and shocked at the same time, knowing China ranked amongst the top countries in the ranking.

You must understand, here, we’re talking about the average rating. Therefore, even though China has produced only 45 grandmasters, it ranks second.

The average rating of Chinese grandmasters is 2698.

Grandmaster Liren Ding is the highest-rated chess player with a 2798 rating.

4. India

It isn’t surprising that India ranks 4th worldwide in the case of the average Elo rating, especially when you consider the fact that chess originated in India.

The average Elo rating of Indian chess players is 2671, and the player with the highest rating is Vishwanathan Anand, with a 2751 rating.

Vishwanathan Anand
Vishwanathan Anand (Image credits:

5. Ukraine

Ukraine is one of the few countries that stood strong on its ground when it came to chess. In March 2022, they stood at the 5th position with 2669 ratings. The highest-rated Ukrainian player is Anton Korobov, with a 2695 rating.


How to become a grandmaster?

Start as young as possible. Go through the chess theories–opening, middle, and endgame strategies.

If necessary, go through proper chess training. Read the books written by chess legends, such as Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer.

Participate in as many chess tournaments as you can. Last but not least–practice; practice; practice.

How long does it take to become a grandmaster in chess?

It depends on your effort, skills, and tactics. Abhimanyu Mishra became a chess grandmaster at the age of 12. So, if you are starting now, you may end up becoming a grandmaster after 12 years.

Again, there are also chess players who gained the title at the age of 80. So, all that matters is to believe in yourself and keep chasing your dream.

Can you lose the grandmaster title?

Yes, you can lose the grandmaster title. According to the FIDE regulations, a chess player will be exiled from FIDE and end up losing grandmaster title if found cheating or acting against any rating ethics.

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Siegbert Tarrasch once said, “Many have become Chess Masters; no one has become the Master of Chess.”

Therefore, I suggest you venture on the journey of mastering chess instead of focusing on titles. Study chess theories, read chess literature, practice, and most importantly, participate in chess tournaments.

If you focus on achieving excellence in chess, I am sure in no time I will be writing about you alongside other grandmasters.

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