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What's the difference between a chess master and a regular coach?

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

A chess Master is a player who has achieved a top high level of skill by winning international tournaments. These titles are given by FIDE (the International Chess Federation).


For example, a chess master who’s a FIDE Master has a chess rating of 2300 or higher. A coach is someone who teaches chess to other people, regardless of their own skill level. It’s that simple.


The master title comes in different forms:

  • Grandmaster: The highest chess title awarded by FIDE, considered the pinnacle of chess achievement. To earn the GM title, a player must achieve a FIDE rating of at least 2500 and earn three norms (norms = winning a tournament against other high-level players). GMs are considered exceptional chess players who have demonstrated exceptional strategic thinking, tactical prowess, and positional understanding. They are the elite of the chess world, capable of competing for world championships and other top-tier tournaments.

  • International Master: This is the second-highest chess title awarded by the FIDE. To earn the IM title, a player must achieve a FIDE rating of at least 2400 and earn three norms, which are exceptional performances in international tournaments.

  • National Master: This title is awarded by national chess federations to players who have demonstrated exceptional skill within their respective countries. While the specific requirements for the NM title vary by country, it generally involves achieving a high national rating and performing well in national tournaments.

  • Women’s International or National Master: The requirements for these titles are similar to those of the IM and NM titles, respectively, but with lower rating thresholds to account for the smaller pool of female players.

  • FIDE Master: The third-highest chess title awarded by FIDE. To earn the FM title, a player must achieve a FIDE rating of at least 2300 and earn two norms.

  • Candidate Master: The CM title is awarded to players who achieve an established classical FIDE rating of 2200.


These titles are not just honorary; they carry significant weight in the chess world, reflecting a player's ability to compete at the highest levels and contribute to the advancement of the game. In fact, less than 1% of chess players are chess masters.


What are the benefits of having a chess Master as a coach?


Chess masters can offer a number of benefits to their students, including:

  • Deep understanding of the game: Chess masters play on a professional level, so they sure know what it takes to win a game of chess.

  • Ability to teach effective strategies: One of the most crucial aspects of mastering this ancient game is understanding the theory, and no one knows this better than a Master.

  • They serve as role models: Since they’re high achievers from a young age and they understand the process of compound improvement, chess Masters can keep kids motivated for long periods of time.


What are the benefits of having a chess coach who is not a chess master?

Chess coaches who are not chess masters can still offer a number of benefits to their students, including:


  • Patience and understanding: Many chess coaches are school teachers or other types of teachers, which can help them ideate teaching programs designed for each student’s needs.

  • Coaches can better relate to students: Though our goal is always to set a high bar for our kids, it’s sometimes better to have realistic standards when it comes to skill. They won’t push a kid towards becoming a Master, but to learn to play and love the game.

  • They can provide a fun and positive learning environment: As I said, many of them are teachers, which gives them the necessary experience to identify fun subjects that can yield an engaging learning experience.


Which type of coach is right for my child?

The best type of coach for your child depends on their individual needs and goals. If your child is a serious chess player who is looking to reach a high level, then a chess master may be the best choice. However, if your child is simply looking to learn the game of chess and have fun, then a chess coach who is not a chess master may be a better option.


How can I find a good chess coach?

We made a complete guide to find the perfect coach, you can check it out here.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to choose a chess master or a chess coach for your child is up to you. However, by considering the factors discussed above, you can make an informed decision that will help your child reach their chess goals.


Hire a chess master as a coach

If you are looking for a chess coach for your child, please contact us today. We would be happy to help you find a qualified coach who can help your child reach their full potential.



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