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Competitive play

Organization of competitions

Contemporary chess is an organized sport with structured international and national leagues, tournaments, and congresses. Chess's international governing body is FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs). Most countries have a national chess organization as well (such as the US Chess Federation and English Chess Federation) which in turn is a member of FIDE. FIDE is a member of the International Olympic Committee,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> but the game of chess has never been part of the Olympic Games; chess does have its own Olympiad, held every two years as a team event.

The former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand (left) playing chess against his predecessor Vladimir Kramnik

The current World Chess Champion is Magnus Carlsen of Norway.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> The reigning Women's World Champion is Hou Yifan from China.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The world's highest rated female player, Judit Polgár, has never participated in the Women's World Chess Championship, instead preferring to compete with the leading men and maintaining a ranking among the top male players.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Other competitions for individuals include the World Junior Chess Championship, the European Individual Chess Championship, and the National Chess Championships. Invitation-only tournaments regularly attract the world's strongest players. Examples include Spain's Linares event, Monte Carlo's Melody Amber tournament, the Dortmund Sparkassen meeting, Sofia's M-tel Masters, and Wijk aan Zee's Tata Steel tournament.

Regular team chess events include the Chess Olympiad and the European Team Chess Championship. The World Chess Solving Championship and World Correspondence Chess Championships include both team and individual events.

Besides these prestigious competitions, there are thousands of other chess tournaments, matches, and festivals held around the world every year catering to players of all levels. Chess is promoted as a "mind sport" by the Mind Sports Organisation, alongside other mental-skill games such as Contract Bridge, Go, and Scrabble.

Titles and rankings

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Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion, is considered by many to be one of the greatest chess player of all time.

The best players can be awarded specific lifetime titles by the world chess organization FIDE:<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

  • Grandmaster (shortened as GM; sometimes International Grandmaster or IGM is used) is awarded to world-class chess masters. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. Before FIDE will confer the title on a player, the player must have an Elo chess rating (see below) of at least 2500 at one time and three favorable results (called norms) in tournaments involving other grandmasters, including some from countries other than the applicant's. There are other milestones a player can achieve to attain the title, such as winning the World Junior Championship.
  • International Master (shortened as IM). The conditions are similar to GM, but less demanding. The minimum rating for the IM title is 2400.
  • FIDE Master (shortened as FM). The usual way for a player to qualify for the FIDE Master title is by achieving a FIDE rating of 2300 or more.
  • Candidate Master (shortened as CM). Similar to FM, but with a FIDE rating of at least 2200.

All the titles are open to men and women. Separate women-only titles, such as Woman Grandmaster (WGM), are available. Beginning with Nona Gaprindashvili in 1978, a number of women have earned the GM title, and most of the top ten women in 2006 hold the unrestricted GM title.<ref group=note name="FIDE_top_players">Current FIDE lists of top players with their titles are online at {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

As of August 2011, there are 1363 active grandmasters and 3153 international masters in the world. Top three countries with the largest numbers of grandmasters are Russia, Ukraine, and Germany, with 208, 78, and 76. The country with most grandmasters per capita is Iceland, with 11 GMs and 13 IMs among the population of 310,000.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

International titles are awarded to composers and solvers of chess problems and to correspondence chess players (by the International Correspondence Chess Federation). National chess organizations may also award titles, usually to the advanced players still under the level needed for international titles; an example is the Chess expert title used in the United States.

In order to rank players, FIDE, ICCF, and national chess organizations use the Elo rating system developed by Arpad Elo. Elo is a statistical system based on the assumption that the chess performance of each player in their games is a random variable. Arpad Elo thought of a player's true skill as the average of that player's performance random variable, and showed how to estimate the average from results of player's games. The US Chess Federation implemented Elo's suggestions in 1960, and the system quickly gained recognition as being both fairer and more accurate than older systems; it was adopted by FIDE in 1970.Unknown extension tag "ref" The highest FIDE rating of all time, 2881, was achieved by Magnus Carlsen on the March 2014 FIDE rating list.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>


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