Chess masterchess player of such skill that he can nearly always beat players of the general strength found in chess clubs, who themselves typically can nearly always prevail against the level of play generally possessed by the average player in the general population. Among chess players, the term is often abbreviated to master, the meaning being clear from context.
From the dawn of recorded chess, to the establishment of the first chess organizations, the term master was simply one of opinion. Strong players demonstrated their strength in play, and gained the informal reputation of being chess masters.
As chess became more widespread in the latter half of the 19th century, the term began to be given out by organizations. For example, in Germany, there arose sponsored tournaments, the winners of which were awared the title of "National Master". Emanuel Lasker, who later became World Champion, first earned a master title in one such tournament.
The establishment of the world chess body, Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), saw the creation of titles superior to the "national master" titles. FIDE created the titles "International Master" and "Grandmaster", awarded according to those achieving set requirements. FIDE eventually created the tile of "FIDE Master", as the lowest master title it awarded.
In the United States, players who achieve a United States Chess Federation (USCF) chess rating of 2200 are automatically awarded a National Master title, though they must keep their rating over 2200 or the title is rescinded, unlike FIDE titles which are permanent.
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