According to Wikipedia, as of 2021, there were approximately 2,000 open Candidate Masters, and about 8000 FIDE masters. If the conditions for CM are lower than that of FM, why are there fewer CMs than FMs?

  • I only learnt recently that CM title exists. It is not recognised in France, and I guess in many other countries. And you have to pay FIDE for it.
    – Damien
    Jun 5, 2023 at 4:28
  • 2
    From what I'm hearing, the interest in the CM title is mainly to get the title chess.com Diamond membership and participate in Titled Tuesday Jun 5, 2023 at 8:32
  • CM is a much more recent title
    – qwr
    Jun 5, 2023 at 18:39

3 Answers 3


The FM title already had a reputation that it's less serious than the "real titles" IM and GM, because it doesn't require any norms, only a certain rating (100 points below that of IM), making it much easier to get.

The Candidate Master title was introduced in 2002 (FM in 1978). There is a 50 euro fee for registering it. The requirement is 100 points under that of FM, and from there to FM is still a long way, let alone to the more serious ones. The chess community mostly regarded it as an attempt by FIDE to increase its revenue. Tournaments that are free entrance for title holders still ask CM holders to pay the entrance fee.

So you get the CM title if you're proud of your 2200 achievement and know that that will be your peak, I think. It's a vanity thing. I know someone who got gifted the CM title by his team mates as a prank.

(Having said that, I wish I was 2100...)


The reason is a combination of two facts:

  1. FIDE created the CM title as basically a "vanity title" which it later debauched by giving it away to very young children. In 2017 they tightened up the requirements to make it less of a joke. Although when they really started applying extra rating restrictions is not clear.
  2. Although the FM title has, in recent times, gone through the same devaluation, it has been around since 1978 and so has been debased for a much smaller percentage of its lifespan than the CM title which has only been around since 2002.

"Wow!", you are saying. "That sounds extreme. Do you have any facts to back that up with?"

Well, the old FIDE website had an "Advanced Search" page. The page is still there, it just doesn't work. In the old days I would have gone there and searched for "Players with CM title, sort by Name and Rating ascending" . Now that is no longer possible but, fortunately I maintain my own version of the ratings database produced from downloading and processing the data FIDE make available here.

When I do the equivalent search for CMs this are the top 5 results. Links are to the player profiles on the FIDE website:

Eisa Mohmood, Alkhoori - Rating = 1070 - born in 2007, CM title in 2015
Peter, Noah - 1114 - 2009, CM title in 2018!
Chirinos Mijares, Hector Enrique - 1159 - 2009, CM title in 2016
Robelly Garrido,David Emilio - 1187 - 2008, CM title in 2016
Kaur, Jind - 1212 - 2010, CM title in 2018!

Now let's see what the FIDE Table for Direct Titles effective from 1 July 2014 till 30 June 2017 has to say about the requirements for winning the CM title directly:

Cont. & Regional U10; U8, Cont. Schools U11; U9; U7 - 1st equal, Silver & Bronze - title

There is an accompanying document - FIDE Title Regulations effective from 1 July 2014 till 30 June 2017. This says this about awarding of direct titles:

Direct title (automatic title) is a title gained by achieving a certain place or result in a tournament. For example, winning, or achieving a result ≥50 percent in a tournament. On application by the player’s federation and confirmation by the QC, such titles are awarded automatically by FIDE.

So, if you finished in the top 3 in a continental schools under 7 tournament you were automatically entitled to the CM title.

The same applies in Table for Direct Titles effective from 1 July 2017 except that FIDE Title Regulations effective from 1 July 2017 till 31 December 2021 is a lot stricter than the 2014-17 version. It says this:

0.62 For a direct title to be awarded immediately an applicant has to have achieved at some time or other a minimum rating as follows:

GM 2300 WGM 2100
IM 2200 WIM 2000
FM 2100 WFM 1900
CM 2000 WCM 1800

If an applicant is rated lower the title is awarded conditionally and will be awarded finally on request by the respective federation as soon as the minimum rating is achieved.

According to this table after 2017 you also needed to reach a rating of 2000 to get the title. However FIDE are not always good at reacting to change and two of the weak players above achieved their titles in 2018 despite being a long way below 2000.

  • is there a rating requirement for CM. there are a bunch of unrated CMs as well
    – cmgchess
    Jun 6, 2023 at 5:12
  • @cmgchess As it says in the answer a rating requirement was introduced in 2017
    – Brian Towers
    Jun 6, 2023 at 8:59
  • i went through the unrated guys. the last ones were 2015. however possible exception?
    – cmgchess
    Jun 6, 2023 at 9:31
  • 1
    @cmgchess Indeed and 2 of the players I listed above were awarded their titles in 2018 (i.e. after the July 2017 changes) despite never having got within 700 points of the 2000 minimum rating required. By the way, the same kind of thing applies to the FM title and old guys in weak continental senior championships. There are some sub 1500 FMs out there who got their titles via that route, just fewer of them because there are fewer senior categories than child categories.
    – Brian Towers
    Jun 6, 2023 at 11:48
  • i guess the same goes for olympiad CM titles as well?
    – cmgchess
    Jun 6, 2023 at 13:53

FIDE Handbook

According to the FIDE handbook, the first requirement to achieve the FIDE Master title is a 2300 FIDE ELO rating. For a FIDE Candidate Master, the FIDE ELO rating required is 2200. Additionally, the second requirement is to have at least 30 FIDE-rated games. Check this link: https://handbook.fide.com/chapter/B01Regulations2017

If you are in the United States, at most 5% of the tournaments are FIDE rated. In general, chess tournaments in the United States are USCF rated only. USCF rating is not valid to get FIDE titles. If USCF would use FIDE rating instead of USCF rating, almost all USCF masters would be FIDE Candidate Masters and almost all USCF senior masters would be FIDE Masters. Take a look to this table:

USCF Titles

In the city that I live in California, the highest USCF rated player has 2000 USCF rating points. A good estimate is that the FIDE rating is equal to the USCF rating less one hundred. So, our best player has around 1900 FIDE rating points of strength. He/she would need three hundred additional points to have the strength to achieve a FIDE Candidate Master title. Three hundred points is an enormous difference. My guess is that you would need a minimum of 2 years of demanding work to improve three hundred points. In addition, he/she would need to play 30 FIDE rated games. In the U.S. that would require at least six tournaments if he/she has a perfect performance. As a math lover, I would say that the probability of "a perfect performance" is tiny. A perfect performance is highly unlikely. Combining both factors with the expenses required to play those FIDE rated tournaments are the reasons, in my perspective, why there are not too many FIDE Candidate Master players. It is a challenging task.
To give an example, the National Open will have a FIDE rated section. The entry fee is around $400 if you do not have at least 2200. The tournament will be in Las Vegas, June 14-18, 2023. To play you would also have to pay your air ticket, hotel, etc.

National Open, Las Vegas.

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