How to Become a National Master in Chess – ChessForSharks

national master

Ever wondered what it takes to become a national master in chess? You’ve come to the right place. Reaching the prestigious NM title is no easy feat and requires dedication, skill, and a whole lot of practice. But don’t let that intimidate you. With hard work and the right mindset, you absolutely have what it takes to join the ranks of national masters.

Over the next few minutes, I’m going to walk you through the key steps to becoming an NM. We’ll look at how to improve your game through deliberate practice, build an opening repertoire, analyze master games, work with a coach, compete in tournaments, achieve norms, and apply for the title. The road ahead won’t always be easy, but stay focused on your goal and keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you follow the advice in this article, polish your skills, and never stop learning, you’ll be well on your way to earning the coveted NM title next to your name.

Study and Master Chess Fundamentals

To become a national master (NM) in chess, you need to study and master the fundamentals.

Focus on openings, endgames, and common strategies. Learn popular openings like the Ruy Lopez or Queen’s Gambit and understand typical middlegame plans. Study endgame positions to know how to convert advantages into wins. Familiarize yourself with strategic concepts like controlling the center, using all your pieces, and weakening your opponent’s position.

Play often. The only way to really improve is to gain experience by playing frequently. Aim for at least 3-5 rated games per week. Review your games afterward to analyze your mistakes and see what you can learn.

Solve tactical puzzles and problems. Tactics are the building blocks of great chess. Do puzzles regularly to sharpen your pattern recognition and calculation skills. This could be the key to gaining an advantage or avoiding a quick defeat.

Work with a coach.

A strong chess coach can help point out your weaknesses and give you a customized study plan to improve faster. They can review your games, solve problems with you, and give you guidance specific to your needs. Private or group coaching is ideal for becoming an NM.

Continuously learn chess theory and strategy. Stay up to date with the latest openings, endgames, and master games. Read books and articles. Watch tutorial videos. The game is constantly evolving, so never stop learning.

Play Regularly in Chess Federation-Rated Tournaments

To become a national master, you need to play – and win – regularly in Chess Federation-rated tournaments. Here is an example of the US federation upcoming chess tournaments.

Find Local Tournaments

Check with your local chess club or search online for upcoming tournaments in your area. Even small local events can be rated and help boost your rating.

Play Whenever You Can

Take advantage of holidays, weekends and any time off you have to participate in more competitions. The more you play, the faster your rating will increase. Try to compete in at least one rated event per month.

Focus on Your Game

Don’t get distracted worrying about your opponents or the prize fund. Concentrate on playing your best chess. Have a plan for how you want to approach each game to give yourself the best chance of winning.

Learn From Your Losses

Even the best players lose sometimes. When you do lose, review your games to see where you made mistakes and how you can improve next time. Use your losses as an opportunity to strengthen your strategy and skills.

Maintain a Healthy Perspective

Don’t get discouraged if you hit a plateau or your rating drops temporarily. Becoming a national master is a long game.

Achieve Norms and Rating Requirements for National Master Title

To earn the title of National Master (NM) in chess, you’ll need to achieve certain norms and rating requirements.

Achieve Norms

A norm is a performance rating achieved in a competition against other titled players. To become an NM, you must achieve at least two norms. Norms are calculated based on your performance rating and the average rating of your opponents. As an NM candidate, aim for tournaments where the average rating of your opponents is at least 2200. Play consistently well against higher-rated opponents to achieve norms.

Meet the Rating Requirement

In addition to norms, you need to achieve an established rating of at least 2200. The most well-known ratings are the FIDE ratings, calculated from your performance in official FIDE-rated events. A high rating alone doesn’t earn you the NM title – you still need at least two norms. However, with a 2200+ rating and strong, consistent performance in competitions, achieving those norms becomes more feasible. See the way Tani, a rising chess star did it.

To improve your rating and work towards NM norms and requirements:

  • Play in as many FIDE-rated events as possible, especially round-robins and opens with titled players.
  • Study master games and learn from the stronger opponents you face.
  • Work with a chess coach or look for feedback on your games to address weaknesses.
  • Solve tactical puzzles and puzzles to keep your mind sharp.
  • Stay active in the chess community to find the best events and training opportunities.

While becoming an NM is challenging, with dedication it is an achievable goal. Keep practicing, study hard, compete often, and don’t get discouraged if it takes time. Stay focused on constant progress and learning, develop your skills, and success will follow. You’ve got this! With hard work and persistence, the NM title can be yours.


So there you have it, the key ingredients you need to become a national master in chess. It will take dedication, hard work, and persistence, but with passion for the game, the right mindset, focused practice, studying master games, and competing in tournaments, you absolutely have what it takes to reach this milestone. Don’t get discouraged if you face setbacks or plateaus. Stay determined and keep your eyes on the end goal. Becoming an NM won’t happen overnight, but if you stick with these principles, continue learning and improving, challenge yourself, and never give up, you’ll get there.

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