How to Become a Candidate Master in Chess: A Comprehensive Guide

Embarking on the journey to becoming a Candidate Master in chess is a testament to a player’s dedication, strategic prowess, and love for the game.

This title, awarded by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), is a significant milestone in a chess player’s career, signifying their potential to ascend to even higher ranks. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the steps, strategies, and requirements to attain this prestigious title, providing you with the roadmap to elevate your chess game to new heights.

Whether you’re a seasoned club player or an ambitious beginner, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and insights to set your sights on the Candidate Master title. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together.

Understanding the Chess Ranking System

The chess ranking system is a captivating labyrinth that classifies players based on their proficiency and performance in tournaments. It’s a universal standard that enables us to compare the skills of chess players from various regions and backgrounds. The ranking system primarily hinges on the Elo rating system, named after its creator, Arpad Elo. This system employs statistical probability to comparatively rank players by strength, with the difference in Elo rating serving as a predictor of the likelihood of a particular player winning a match [^1^].

Explanation of the Chess Ranking System

The Elo rating system is a dynamic, ever-changing entity that adjusts based on the outcomes of games between rated players. After each game, the victor takes points from the defeated. The number of points won or lost depends on the rating difference between the players – a higher-rated player stands to gain fewer points by defeating a lower-rated player and vice versa.

The Elo system is utilized by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), the international governing body for chess, to rate players and award titles. The titles, in ascending order, are:

  1. Candidate Master (CM)
  2. FIDE Master (FM)
  3. International Master (IM)
  4. Grandmaster (GM)

Each title corresponds to a specific Elo rating range, with the Candidate Master title requiring a rating of at least 2200[^2^].

Specifics about the Candidate Master Title and Its Place in the Ranking System

The Candidate Master (CM) title is the initial official title a chess player can earn in the FIDE system. It’s a significant milestone in a player’s chess journey, indicating that they’ve reached a high level of skill and are on the path to even greater achievements.

The CM title is a stepping stone to the higher titles of FIDE Master, International Master, and ultimately, Grandmaster. However, it’s an accomplishment in its own right, reflecting a player’s dedication to the game and their mastery of advanced strategies and tactics.

The Candidate Master title is awarded to players who achieve an Elo rating of 2200 or more. This rating means that CMs are very strong players who actively compete in both open and closed over-the-board tournaments and increasingly online. Only 15% of global players are thought to have ratings above 1400[^3^].

[^1^]: Elo Rating System – Wikipedia
[^2^]: FIDE Titles – FIDE
[^3^]: How Many Chess Players Are There In The World? –

Requirements for Becoming a Candidate Master

Detailed Explanation of the ELO Rating Requirement

The ELO rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in two-player games such as chess. Named after its creator, Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor, the ELO rating system is used by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), the international chess federation, to rate chess players.

To become a Candidate Master (CM), a player must achieve an ELO rating of 2200. This is a significant milestone in a chess player’s career, as it demonstrates a high level of skill and understanding of the game. Achieving this rating requires not only talent but also a great deal of hard work and dedication.

Here’s a brief overview of the FIDE titles and their corresponding ELO ratings:

TitleELO Rating
Grandmaster (GM)2500
International Master (IM)2400
FIDE Master (FM)2300
Candidate Master (CM)2200

Discussion on the Number of Games or Tournaments That Need to Be Played

The number of games or tournaments a player needs to participate in to achieve the Candidate Master title can vary greatly. It depends on the player’s performance in these games or tournaments. Winning against higher-rated opponents can significantly increase a player’s ELO rating, while losing to lower-rated opponents can lead to a decrease.

It’s important to note that achieving the Candidate Master title is not just about playing a certain number of games or tournaments. It’s about consistently performing well in these games or tournaments and demonstrating a high level of chess skill.

chess tournament
Chess Tournament

For more insights on how to improve your game, check out our chess tips for beginners and learn about the advantages in chess.

For more detailed information about the ELO rating system and FIDE titles, you can visit the FIDE Handbook.

Strategies for Improving Your Chess Game

Tips and Techniques for Improving Chess Skills

Chess is a game of strategy and tactics. Each piece has its own strength and weaknesses, and understanding these is key to becoming a better player. Here are some tips and techniques to help you improve your chess skills:

  1. Understand the value of each piece: Each chess piece has a different value. The queen is the most valuable piece, followed by the rook, bishop, knight, and pawn. Knowing the value of each piece can help you make better decisions during the game.
  2. Control the center: The center of the board is a key battleground in chess. Controlling the center allows you to have more room for your pieces to move and can limit your opponent’s options.
  3. Develop your pieces: In the opening of the game, try to develop your pieces to good squares where they have a lot of possibilities.
  4. Think ahead: Try to anticipate your opponent’s moves and plan your own moves accordingly. This requires thinking several moves ahead and is a skill that can be developed with practice.
  5. Learn from your mistakes: After each game, review your moves and try to understand where you went wrong. This can help you avoid making the same mistakes in future games.
  6. Practice different openings: There are many different opening strategies in chess, such as the Sicilian Defense or the Queen’s Gambit. Practicing different openings can help you become a more versatile player.
  7. Use chess software and online resources: There are many online resources and software that can help you improve your chess game. For example, is a great resource for learning new strategies and practicing your skills.

Importance of Consistent Practice and Study

Just like any other skill, becoming better at chess requires consistent practice and study. Here are some ways you can incorporate chess practice into your daily routine:

  1. Play regularly: The more you play, the better you’ll get. Try to play chess every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  2. Study chess theory: There are many books and online resources available that can help you learn more about chess theory. This can include studying different opening strategies, endgame tactics, and more.
  3. Analyze your games: After each game, take the time to analyze your moves and understand where you could have improved. This can help you identify any weaknesses in your game and work on improving them.
  4. Solve chess puzzles: Chess puzzles can help improve your tactical skills and ability to think several moves ahead. There are many online resources where you can find chess puzzles to solve.
  5. Get a chess coach: If you’re serious about improving your chess game, consider getting a chess coach. A coach can provide personalized advice and strategies to help you improve.

Remember, becoming a Candidate Master in chess is not an overnight process. It requires dedication, consistent practice, and a love for the game. But with the right strategies and resources, you can improve your chess skills and work your way towards achieving that title.

In the words of the World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker, “Chess is a struggle, chess is battles.” So, keep battling, keep struggling, and keep improving. Your chess crown is waiting!

For more tips on improving your chess game, check out this article on how to improve your chess skills.

Learning from the Masters

Studying the games of chess masters is a crucial step in your journey to becoming a Candidate Master. It’s not just about understanding the moves they make, but also about understanding the thought processes behind those moves. By studying the games of masters, you can gain insights into their strategies, learn from their successes, and avoid their mistakes.

Importance of Studying Games Played by Masters

Studying games played by masters is like getting a masterclass in chess strategy. These games are a treasure trove of advanced tactics, strategic planning, and positional play. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Learning Advanced Tactics: Masters use a variety of advanced tactics in their games. By studying these games, you can learn and understand these tactics, which you can then incorporate into your own games.
  • Understanding Strategic Planning: Chess is a game of strategy. Masters plan their games several moves in advance. Studying their games can help you understand how to plan your own games.
  • Improving Positional Play: Positional play is a crucial aspect of chess. Masters are adept at maneuvering their pieces to advantageous positions. Studying their games can help you improve your own positional play.
  • Learning from Mistakes: Even masters make mistakes. By studying their games, you can learn from their mistakes and avoid making similar ones in your own games.

For instance, studying the games of Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players of all time, can provide valuable insights into his aggressive and dynamic style of play. Similarly, analyzing the games of Anatoly Karpov, known for his positional style of play, can help you understand how to exploit tiny mistakes in your opponent’s position.

How to Analyze and Learn from These Games

Analyzing and learning from the games of Masters is not just about replaying the moves. It involves a deeper understanding of the strategies and tactics used in the game. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Replay the Game: Start by replaying the game move by move. Try to understand the purpose behind each move.
  2. Identify Key Moments: Identify the key moments in the game. These could be tactical combinations, strategic decisions, or crucial mistakes.
  3. Analyze the Moves: Analyze the moves made in these key moments. Try to understand why a particular move was made and what were the alternatives.
  4. Understand the Strategy: Try to understand the overall strategy used by the master. This could involve a specific opening, a middlegame plan, or an endgame strategy.
  5. Apply the Learnings: Finally, apply the learnings from the game in your own games. This could involve using a tactic you learned, avoiding a mistake you noticed, or implementing a strategy you understood.

Remember, becoming a Candidate Master in chess is not just about playing games, but also about studying and learning from the games of others. As the famous saying goes, “Every master was once a beginner.” So, keep learning, keep practicing, and keep improving. Your journey to becoming a Candidate Master is just a few moves away.

Participating in Tournaments

The Role of Tournaments in Improving Your Ranking

Participating in tournaments is a crucial aspect of improving your chess ranking. Tournaments provide the opportunity to play against a variety of opponents, which can help you gain experience and improve your skills. Moreover, your performance in these tournaments directly affects your ELO rating.

In a tournament setting, you’re exposed to different styles of play and strategies, which can be a valuable learning experience. You can observe and learn from other players, especially those who are more experienced or have a higher ranking.

Remember, the more you play, the more your ELO rating can change. Winning games in tournaments can significantly boost your ELO rating, bringing you closer to achieving the Candidate Master title. For more information about the role of tournaments in chess, you can visit this page.

chess tournament

Tips for Preparing for and Participating in Tournaments

Preparing for a chess tournament involves more than just practicing the game. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Study your opponents: If possible, learn about your opponents’ playing styles and strategies. This can help you anticipate their moves and prepare your counter-strategies.
  • Practice with purpose: Don’t just play game after game. Instead, focus on improving specific aspects of your game, such as your opening strategy or endgame tactics.
  • Stay healthy: Physical health can impact mental performance. Ensure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks when needed.
  • Keep a positive mindset: Confidence can significantly impact your performance. Believe in your abilities and stay positive, even when facing tough opponents or challenging situations.

During the tournament, it’s important to stay focused and calm. Don’t let a single loss discourage you. Instead, learn from it and move on to the next game. Remember, every game is a new opportunity to improve your rating.

Maintaining Your Candidate Master Status

Once you’ve achieved the Candidate Master title, the journey doesn’t end there. You need to maintain or even improve your ELO rating to keep your status. This involves continuous learning and practice.

You should continue participating in tournaments to gain more experience and learn new strategies. Studying games by higher-ranked players, such as International Masters and Grandmasters, can also provide valuable insights.

Remember, the goal is not just to maintain your status but to continue improving. With dedication and hard work, you might even achieve higher titles, such as FIDE Master or International Master. For more tips on improving your chess game, you can check out this page.


Becoming a Candidate Master in chess is a significant achievement that requires dedication, strategic learning, and consistent practice. From understanding the chess ranking system to participating in tournaments, each step brings you closer to this prestigious title.

Remember, the journey to becoming a Candidate Master is not just about achieving a certain ELO rating. It’s about improving your skills, learning new strategies, and becoming a better chess player. So, keep practicing, stay motivated, and you’ll be on your way to achieving your chess goals.


  1. What is the ELO rating requirement to become a Candidate Master in chess?
    The ELO rating requirement to achieve the Candidate Master title is 2200.
  2. How many games or tournaments do I need to play to become a Candidate Master?
    The number of games or tournaments you need to play can vary. It’s not just about the quantity, but the quality of your games. Winning games, especially in tournaments, can significantly boost your ELO rating.
  3. What strategies can help me improve my chess skills and increase my ELO rating?
    Strategies for improving your chess skills include consistent practice, studying games played by masters, learning new strategies, and participating in tournaments.
  4. How can I maintain my Candidate Master status once I achieve it?
    To maintain your Candidate Master status, you need to keep your ELO rating above 2200. This involves continuous learning and practice, participating in tournaments, and studying games by higher-ranked players.
  5. Can I achieve a higher title after becoming a Candidate Master?
    Yes, with dedication and hard work, you can achieve higher titles such as FIDE Master, International Master, and even Grandmaster. The journey doesn’t end at becoming a Candidate Master; it’s just the beginning.

Please note that all external links are for informational purposes only and were accurate at the time of writing.

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