FIDE, the world’s chess federation from time to time keeps on conferring various titles to chess players. These titles are generally a combination of ELO ratings and norms. These FIDE titles are generally for lifetime until and unless a player has done an act of moral turpitude. These titles can be received by both men and women.
Under women’s titles we have four titles namely the Woman Grandmaster, the Woman FIDE master title, the Woman International Master and the Woman Candidate Master titles. The title of International Master was instituted in 1950 and it is a lifetime title. The ELO ratings for an International master ranges from 2400 to 2500. However FIDE may confer the title of the International Master under some special occasions as well. After a woman chess player attains the title of International Master the next aim is to become the Grandmaster.
However it is very much possible that a player who has never been an International Master can go on to become the grandmaster. Larry Christiansen of the United States (1977), Hao Wang of China and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia have all become Grandmasters without being International Masters.
There is an increasing trend of more and more women chess players winning the Woman International Master title these days unlike in the past. Inception of this separate title of women shows the increasing supremacy of women in the world chess arena. Men outnumber women in the game of chess and this is the only reason why women win fewer titles and this has nothing to do with their talent in the game of chess.
It must be noted that the International Master Woman title can be achieved at a rating of 2200. Earlier this title was named the International Woman Master and was institutionalised in 1950. This year marked the beginning of women’s entry in the international chess arena in the sense that they were fully recognised. From then on many women chess players started winning this prestigious title. Looking into the ratings the title of Woman International Master has less requirements than the title of the FIDE master which requires a rating of 2300.
This relaxation in terms of rating is to encourage more and more women to participate in the game of chess which by far was considered to be dominated by men. The runners-up of the World Girls Junior Championship are automatically awarded in the case of the Woman International Master title. As per November 2010 in the FIDE list there were 599 women who were possessing the woman International Master Title. Now that’s an interesting and at the same time encouraging figure for women playing professional chess no matter where in the world.