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Marc Cressac; Chess Fact-Checked by Marc Cressac | Updated 2022-06-14
Founder of Chessily.com

Candidate Masters in Chess: Everything On The Title

Perhaps you have heard of the term “Chess Grandmaster” before. But you might not have known that there are several other FIDE titles, that chess players can obtain. In this article, we’ll look specifically at the title of Canditate Master. Let’s dive in!

What is a Candidate Master in Chess?

The title Candidate Master was introduced by FIDE in 2002, as the longest level title in chess. It is awarded to players that show great potential in chess and is usually used as a stepping stone towards higher titles, such as FIDE Master, International Master and Grandmaster.

The title is awarded for life, and any player that meets the qualifying requirements can proudly call themselves Candidate Master, after being awarded by the FIDE.

The title of Candidate Master is abbreviated with the letters “CM”; they are usually placed in front of the player’s name like this: CM John Doe.

How Strong Are Candidate Masters?

The Elo rating requirement for becoming a Candidate Master is 2200 or more. Meaning, any player that has an Elo rating of more than 2200 is certain to be able to attain the title of Candidate Master.

However, the title may also be awarded for especially good play in national, or international competitions. Hereby, the percentage wins contribute towards the title. So, not every CM has a rating of 2200 and above!

Despite the relatively low requirements compared to other FIDE titles, Candidate Masters are incredibly strong players! To put their strength into perspective, let’s quickly look at the ranking distribution among all FIDE registered players.

To be in the top 10% of all FIDE registered chess players, you need an Elo rating of roughly 2000 and above. Candidate Masters are usually even stronger than that. And that distribution does not account for all other players, that are only registered nationally or not at all!

How Do You Become A Candidate Master?

Becoming a Candidate Master is relatively easy compared to other FIDE titles.

  1. You need to be registered with FIDE. You can be the best player on lichess.org, but you still won’t be able to get any FIDE title without being officially registered.
  2. Your Elo rating needs to be above 2200. You can also gain the title by scoring very well in some tournaments, but the requirements are highly specific and can be found in the FIDE Handbook on titles. In addition, you will need to have played at least 30 rated games.
  3. You will need to pay a fee to FIDE for handing out the title. The fee is roughly 50-75$.

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