Titles for sale

by admin on August 25, 2009

Time for another reader poll! You guys helped me decide to play in the U.S. Senior Open instead of the U.S. Open, and now maybe you can help me make another decision.

While I was researching the rules about National Master titles for an earlier post, I came upon a fact that I didn’t know before. Did you know that there is an official FIDE title called Candidate Master (CM)? To qualify for the Candidate Master title, all you need to do is achieve a FIDE rating of 2200. It’s analogous to the FIDE Master (FM) title, for which you only need to achieve a rating of 2300. Neither title requires you to achieve a norm of any kind; the rating is all that matters.

A long time ago, January of 1996 to be precise, I actually did reach a FIDE rating of 2200. I don’t think the CM title even existed then. A couple weeks ago I sent an inquiry to the U.S. Chess Federation asking if I could qualify for the CM title with a rating from 13 years ago. They answered that they could put in the application for me, and I would need to pay an application fee of $75 to FIDE.

WHOA! Seventy-five dollars just for the privilege of adding two letters in front of my name? When I heard that, this Candidate Master title started sounding a little bit more like a money-making gimmick than a bona fide title. So I sent an e-mail to Michael Aigner, aka fpawn, to see what he thought. Why did I ask him? Well, he just seems to know about everything.  😎

Michael’s reply was very interesting. He agreed with me that FIDE is probably doing this to make money. Of course there are many players in the U.S. who are eligible for it, but he said you could probably count the number of actual CM’s on the fingers of two hands. Maybe you might need some toes, too, but the point is it’s a very small number. I think that if most people saw “CM Dana Mackenzie” on a pairing chart, they would say, “Huh? What’s that?”

Another thing that I don’t like about this CM title is that it frankly doesn’t sound impressive. To me, the term Candidate Master means that you are not a master. National Master (NM) sounds better, even though it’s not. (The requirements are similar: a 2200 USCF rating qualifies you for the NM title. However, it’s generally considered harder to get a 2200 FIDE rating than a 2200 USCF rating.)

On the positive side, Michael said that achieving a 2200 FIDE rating is a significant accomplishment, and the CM title recognizes that. Also, even though the CM title is unfamiliar to most people now, so was the FM title when that got started. Now it is pretty well accepted.

So, what do you think? Should I pay $75 for two letters? Or should I save the money and spend it on a new copy of ChessBase instead?

P.S. If you vote for ChessBase … Does anyone have any opinions on the relative merit of ChessBase 2009 Light (50 Euros, or about $72) versus ChessBase 10 Starter Edition ($188)? Is there any reason to pay all that extra money just to have the data base on your own computer, instead of out there on the Internet somewhere?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

fan August 25, 2009 at 8:43 am

I vote for:

1) CM title is pointless, unless you need it to feel good about yourself.

2) I’d go w/ the Starter Edition. Sometimes you won’t have internet access. Also, the games available online from Chessbase have no annotation. Invest in Mega.


Rob August 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

I thought that CM stood for ‘Country Music’.

I also agree with point #1 by fan.

I have a less expensive edition of Chessbase and there are many games in the database that seem to be just fillers(if I can use that word).

There are a number of websites that offer games from recent tournaments that you can download and add to or make your own db.

Certainly going to Chessgames.com offers much for study and consideration-
and also provides for downloading.

And Chessbase magazine which is available at a reasonable price with lots of recent games to add to your CB database may be a good alternative as well.


padlersb August 25, 2009 at 9:53 pm

hi dana – stay away from this CM-crap. the overwhelming majority of european players is giggling about this title … there’s really no point in it. i’d suggest you invest the 75 bucks in a nice evening with your wife and apply for the BHOA-title 😉


Jim Krooskos August 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

I think an upgrade to your chessbase database software would be more fun!! I agree with your idea that currently NM sounds better and is more known than CM. Also, the option to obtain the title may always be there for you.

– Jim Krooskos


Matt August 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm

CM is well known in Russian chess but less so here in the US. It’s not something I realized was an official title actually. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, however… it’s your money after all!


Michael Goeller August 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I think I’d sooner put it toward ChessBase. I agree with you that the NM title is more impressive on a CV or something….


Howard Goldowsky August 27, 2009 at 6:49 am

Ask NM Dan Heisman what he thinks about the CM title. He seems to have paid for it.


Freddy August 31, 2009 at 11:52 am

I find it a small prise.

13 yrs ago you reacht the requerments, and now you can get it on official paper.

I also think that CM D. MacKenzie opens more doors then just D MacKenzie

So i see lifetime opportunity,s for just 75 dollars.

If you buy that chessbase There wil be a new version in less then a year.
And what is it doing more and better then the former version. just a few tiny things.. big price for something you already have.


Cecil.D.Lee July 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm

I played in the 1983 Pasadena U.S Open, which was held at Huntington Sheraton Hotel, Pasadena, California, USA.
I participated in the OPEN section; and scored EIGTH points out of a possible Twelve. My RATING at the end of that tournament was 2241.
I got nothing for that performance. One of my best games was against The Late GM Arnold Denker. The game was drawn.
I have records that I even played in the event.

In March/ April 2014 I played in the Sub zonal tournament 2.3.5 in which I scored 4.5 points out a possible 9. I was awarded a CM tile for my efforts. I am very proud of it.
I am approaching seventy three years (73) on the 24/09/2014.

Do not make fun of my CM Title.
Help me to find someone who can sent me the result of 1983 Pasadena, US Open.

Thank You,
Cecil Dennis Lee of Trinidad and Tobago. FIDE ID 7700164.
I am still aspiring to achieve an IM TITLE


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