The title of Grandmaster (GM) is the highest accolade a chess player can achieve, representing a pinnacle of intellectual prowess and strategic mastery. This prestigious title, awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), distinguishes players who have demonstrated exceptional skill and achievement in the realm of chess. But exactly how many individuals have earned the right to be called a grandmaster? Let’s explore the intricacies of achieving this esteemed title and delve into the current statistics that define the upper echelons of the chess world.

The Grandmaster Title: An Overview

Before we dive into the numbers, it’s essential to understand what it means to be a grandmaster. The GM title goes beyond just being a marker of a player’s skill; it signifies a profound understanding of the game, strategic depth, and the ability to outmaneuver opponents in a vast array of positions. Achieving the grandmaster title requires fulfilling specific criteria set by FIDE, including achieving a FIDE rating of 2500 at some point and earning GM norms in high-level tournaments.

The Evolution of the Grandmaster Title

Introduced in 1950, the grandmaster title has been awarded to chess players who demonstrate outstanding prowess and results in international chess competitions. Over the years, the criteria for achieving this title have evolved, but the essence remains the same: a recognition of elite skill and contribution to the game of chess.

Current Grandmaster Statistics

As of the latest update in 2023, FIDE’s database lists over 1,700 grandmasters globally, with 1,315 classified as active in the sport​​. This number represents a dynamic and ever-expanding community of chess elites, underscoring the game’s growing popularity and the increasing level of competition at the highest levels.

The Gender Gap in Grandmaster Titles

An interesting aspect of the grandmaster landscape is the gender distribution. While chess is a game that transcends gender, the current statistics reveal a significant disparity in the number of male and female grandmasters. As of 2023, there are 38 women who hold the grandmaster title, with 30 of them being active in the sport​. This distinction highlights the ongoing efforts and initiatives within the chess community to encourage and support female players in achieving the highest levels of success in the game.

Super Grandmasters: The Crème de la Crème

The term “super grandmaster” refers informally to players who have surpassed an Elo rating of 2700, placing them among the world’s top chess talents. While not an official FIDE title, being recognized as a super grandmaster is a testament to a player’s extraordinary capabilities and achievements in the chess world. Currently, there are 42 players recognized as super grandmasters, with only 2 of them being inactive​. This exclusive group represents the pinnacle of chess excellence, often contending for the World Chess Championship and leading the global chess rankings.

Stripping of the Grandmaster Title

FIDE titles, including the grandmaster title, are typically held for life. However, in rare instances, a title may be revoked if a player is found to have breached the federation’s anti-cheating regulations or used their title to undermine the ethical standards of the sport​. To date, only three grandmasters have had their titles revoked, underscoring the seriousness with which the chess community treats fairness and integrity in the game.


The journey to becoming a grandmaster in chess is arduous and requires dedication, strategic brilliance, and a deep love for the game. As the number of grandmasters continues to grow, reflecting the increasing accessibility and popularity of chess worldwide, these elite players remain beacons of excellence within the chess community. Whether aiming for the title oneself or simply admiring the skill and dedication of these top-tier players, the grandmasters of chess continue to inspire and captivate enthusiasts around the globe.

As the world of chess evolves, so too does the landscape of its most distinguished players. The title of grandmaster remains a coveted goal for many, a symbol of achieving greatness in a game that challenges the mind and spirit.

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