What Is A Super Grandmaster In Chess?

Any aspiring chess player dreams to become a grandmaster one day.

But if you are REALLY good at the game, you might even become a super grandmaster one day.

Not sure what the difference is between these two titles?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s see exactly what a super grandmaster is and how they are different from regular grandmasters.

What is a super grandmaster?

The term “super grandmaster” was first coined in 1983 by a German chess journalist, and it referred to chess players with a rating above 2600.

At the time when the term was first used, there were only 13 chess players with a rating above 2600.

You can see all the players in the table below:

RankingNameCountryRating
1Anotoly KarpovUSSR2710
2Garry KasparovUSSR2690
3Ljubomir LjubojevicYugoslavia2645
4Ulf AnderssonSweden2635
5Lev PolugajewskiUSSR2625
6Robert HübnerWest Germany2625
7Mikhail TalUSSR2620
8Lajos PortischHungary2620
9Jan TimmanHolland2605
10Tigran PetrosianUSSR2605
11Boris SpasskyUSSR2605
12Yasser SeirawanUSA2600
13Viktor KorchnoiUSSR2600
The 13 super grandmaster and their chess rating in 1983.

As you can see, there really weren’t a lot of super grandmasters around, and most of them had a rating pretty close to 2600. Anatoly Karpov was the only one who achieved a rating above 2700.

Nowadays, things are completely different.

There are over 200 super grandmasters of which 35 players are rated above 2700 and 2 are rated above 2800.

As a result, the term super grandmaster is now used by most people to only refer to players rated above 2700.

List of all the super grandmasters

You can find all the current rating of all the top grandmasters at the official FIDE rating website.

Below you can find the 35 super grandmasters that currently have a rating above 2700.

RankingNameFedRating
1Carlsen, MagnusNOR2864
2Firouzja, AlirezaFRA2804
3Ding, LirenCHN2799
4Aronian, LevonUSA2785
5Caruana, FabianoUSA2781
6So, WesleyUSA2778
7Rapport, RichardHUN2776
8Giri, AnishNED2773
9Nepomniachtchi, IanRUS2773
10Mamedyarov, ShakhriyarAZE2771
11Vachier-Lagrave, MaximeFRA2758
12Dominguez Perez, LeinierUSA2756
13Radjabov, TeimourAZE2753
14Anand, ViswanathanIND2751
15Duda, Jan-KrzysztofPOL2750
16Nakamura, HikaruUSA2750
17Karjakin, SergeyRUS2747
18Wang, HaoCHN2744
19Grischuk, AlexanderRUS2742
20Topalov, VeselinBUL2730
21Andreikin, DmitryFID2729
22Wei, YiCHN2729
23Vitiugov, NikitaFID2724
24Vidit, Santosh GujrathiIND2723
25Esipenko, AndreyFID2723
26Van Foreest, JordenNED2714
27Dubov, DaniilRUS2711
28Yu, YangyiCHN2710
29Shankland, SamUSA2709
30Bu, XiangzhiCHN2708
31Tomashevsky, EvgenyRUS2708
32Harikrishna, PentalaIND2705
33Vallejo Pons, FranciscoESP2704
34Fedoseev, VladimirFID2701
35Artemiev, VladislavRUS2700
List of all the super grandmasters and their rating in April 2022.

Keep in mind that the rating of these players are constantly updated with every game they play.

So players just above or below the 2700 rating can join or drop off the list at any time.

Difference between grandmasters and super grandmasters

So far we have just been talking about super grandmasters. But what’s the difference between a super grandmaster and a regular grandmaster?

First of all, the grandmaster title is an official title given by FIDE if you have a rating over 2300 and obtain your GM norms. But the term super grandmaster is an unofficial title that doesn’t really hold any real value.

Moreover, most regular grandmasters will have a FIDE rating around 2500, while super grandmasters have a rating above 2700.

A gap of 200 rating points might not seem that huge. But the higher your rating becomes, the more difficult it is to increase your rating. So improving from 1400 to 1600 is a lot easier than going from 2500 to 2700.

This also means that there are simply way more grandmasters out there than super grandmasters. While there are only ~35 super grandmasters, there are over 1700 regular grandmasters.

Finally, super grandmasters are a lot more famous because they get invited to a lot of prestigious tournaments and can often turn chess into a full time career. Whereas the average grandmaster might struggle to earn enough from just their chess career.

Why do we need a title higher than grandmaster?

The main problem with the grandmaster title is that it has become too broad.

A title is supposed to indicate roughly how good a player is. But if you compare a grandmaster with a 2500 rating and one with a 2800 rating, their knowledge and understanding of the game is completely different.

Below you can see the different FIDE titles and what rating you need to have to qualify for them.

FIDE TitleRequired
Rating
Candidate master>2000
FIDE master>2100
International master>2200
Grandmaster>2300
Minimum rating requirements for FIDE titles.

As you can see, for the candidate master, FIDE master, and International master titles the rating range is around 100 points.

So every Candidate master is more or less equal in strength.

But the grandmaster title spans players with a rating from 2300 to 2800+.

Using the FIDE rating system, you can calculate how likely someone is to win from their opponent.

A super grandmaster with a 2800 rating has a 65% to win from a player rated 2700, and a 75% winning chance of against an opponent with a 2600 rating.

Moreover, a 2800 player has a 99.01% winning from a 2300 player. So currently, the grandmaster title doesn’t give a very good representation of a player’s strength.

Why are super grandmaster better than grandmaster?

Super grandmasters rated above 2700 have a much better understanding of the game than grandmasters rated 2500.

They have studied countless opening lines and know how even small move order changes can be exploited. Moreover, their endgame technique is nearly perfect and they pretty much always choose the right plan in the middlegame.

Moreover, 2700 players have the option of preparing for specific opponents. Since there are only 35 super grandmasters, with some hard work you could prepare a special opening and study someone’s weaknesses before each game.

However, since there are so many 2500 rated grandmasters, it’s impossible to prepare something specific for each of your potential opponents. So you’ll have to rely on your fundamental chess understanding more.

The effect of rating inflation on chess titles

Over the past 40ish years, the number of players with a rating above 2700 increased from just 1 to 35.

That’s a huge change!

So can we really say that modern day grandmasters are better than world champions from the 19th and early 20th century?

It’s certainly true that the use of strong chess engines is a big advantage that grandmasters didn’t have access to before.

This makes it much easier and faster to analyze previous games and assess challenging positions.

However, it’s unlikely that the remarkable increase in rating is solely due to grandmasters becoming stronger.

Many people have suggested that rating inflation could play a factor as well in the ever-increasing rating.

However, thorough analysis of grandmaster games using their average centipawn loss suggests that there has been rating deflation instead of inflation the past few decades.

So although modern grandmasters are probably stronger than grandmasters from previous generations, it’s not easy to say exactly how much stronger they are.

Some chess players and journalists have even suggested that FIDE should make it harder to become a grandmaster.