Friday, May 16, 2008

How to become a grandmaster

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

THE title Grandmaster is awarded to world-class masters by the world chess organization Fide. Apart from “World Champion,” Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. It is awarded for performance in tournaments and once achieved, the title is held for life.

There are several criteria before one is conferred the title or gets a GM norm.

1.) The applicant must have an ELO of at least 2500 at some time or other 2.) The minimum rating of the opponents must be greater than 2250.3.) Play to be governed by the Fide Rules 4.) The number of games played per day must not be more than two. 5.)

Time control during play must be at least 120 minutes. 6.) An International arbiter must be in charge 7.) The applicant must play at least nine games in each of the tournaments to qualify and needs a total of 27 games in two or more norms for a GM title 8.) There must be at least two federations other than those of the applicant 9.) The applicant must play at least three GMs in a nine-round tournament 10. The applicant must have a performance rating of 2601 to get a GM norm 11.) Where a player exceeds the norm requirements by one or more full points, then the length of the tournament is considered to be extended by that number of games when computing the total number of games.

An applicant is awarded automatically a GM title if he reaches the last 16 in the World Cup, wins the Women’s World Championship, the World Junior Championship or the Senior Championship. A nine or more games performance rating of 2600 plus in the Olympiad or Continental Championship is equal to a 20-game norm.

As of January 2008, Fide listed 1109 GMs, with 1002 counted as “active.” The GMs represented 81 national federations, of which the top five were Russia with 174 GMs, Germany 67, the Ukraine 64, the USA 61, and Serbia 46. A total of 13 federations had 25 GMs or more. The Philippines has eight. If the goal of Fide is to promote the game, the organization has certainly succeeded with estimates of over 700 million players worldwide.

In 1972 there were only 88 GMs with 33 representing the USSR. This huge increase is because Fide ratings have an inherent inflationary effect, making grandmaster norms much easier to achieve because of more tournaments and easier travel. According to one researcher, ratings inflated by about 100 points between 1985 and 2000.

In order to restore the full prestige of the GM title, it is sometimes suggested that it ought to be reserved for those who are serious contenders for the World Championship. Former world championship runnerup Nigel Short has even suggested that the title should be abolished.

Incredible. I have always been an admirer of Vassily Ivanchuk ever since he played in Manila in 1988 in the World Juniors together with Anand and Econg Sevillano.

The prestigious M-Tel Masters competition is now on-going in Bulgaria famous for its “Sofia” rule meaning no draws are allowed unless with the consent of the arbiter.

Vassily 2740 has rolled to an incredible five straight wins in the first half over Veselin Topalov 2767, Teimour Radjabov 2751, Levon Aronian 2763, Ivan Cheparinov 2696 and Bu Xiang Xi 2708 for a performance rating of 3537, the highest ever achieved by a player.

Second Philippine Open. Although Wesley So and Joey Antonio did not place as expected, Bong Villamayor and Julio Sadorra took up the slack and tied for first with Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, Li Chao and Zhou Weiqi of China with similar 8/11 points.

The 3rd Philippine Open will start tomorrow with Eugene Torre playing after a good rest.

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