How to Become a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) in Chess – ChessForSharks

woman grandmaster

So, you want to become a woman grandmaster in chess, do you? Becoming a WGM is no easy feat and requires dedication, skill, and perseverance. But the rewards of joining this elite club of the world’s top female chess players make all the effort worthwhile.

To become a WGM, you need to achieve three norms, which are high-level chess tournament performances, as well as reach an Elo rating of at least 2300. Easier said than done, right? It can take years of competing in qualifying events, traveling internationally, and of course, spending countless hours practicing your craft.

What Is a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) in Chess?

To become a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) in chess, you’ll need to achieve three norms and have a minimum rating of 2300 with at least 30 rated games. But what exactly does that mean?


A norm is a performance rating achieved at an official FIDE chess tournament. To earn a WGM title, you must achieve three norms with required play expected to be greater than equal to a 2400 performance against opponents with an average rating greater than or equal to 2180 all according to FIDE.

To have the best chance at earning norms, play in the strongest tournaments you can against the toughest competition available. Aim for an average opponent rating of at least 2100-2300, the higher the better. Earning one norm can take 3-5 rounds in a 9-round tournament, so be prepared for intense focus over multiple days of play.


In addition to norms, you need a minimum FIDE rating of 2300 to become a WGM. Ratings are calculated based on your performance and results in official FIDE-rated events. Consistently win or draw against higher-rated players and your rating will steadily increase over time.

Tips for Improving Your Chess Skills and Rating

To become a WGM, you’ll need to achieve new heights in your chess skills and official rating. Here are some tips to improve:

Focus on tactics. Solve tactical puzzles and play lots of blitz games to sharpen your pattern recognition. Look for forks, pins, skewers, removal of the guard, and other tricks to gain material or checkmate.

Study master games. Replay games from strong female players like Judit Polgar, Hou Yifan, and Aleksandra Goryachkina. Try to understand their strategies and reasoning behind each move.

Work on your endgame technique. Know how to win basic endgames like king and pawn vs. king to turn small advantages into victories. Study theoretical endgame positions.

Get a coach. Work with a strong chess coach, ideally a WGM or GM. They can evaluate your games, point out weaknesses, and give you a tailored training plan to improve. Online coaching is convenient and affordable.

Play in women’s events. Compete in women’s chess tournaments and matches to gain experience, increase your rating, and work towards WGM norms. Norms require strong performances against higher-rated opponents.

Analyze your own games. Review the games you play, especially your losses. Look for mistakes and missed opportunities. See what your opponent did well. Think about how you can avoid similar errors and improve your decision-making in the future.

Maintain a regular practice schedule. Consistent practice and study are key. Aim for 2-3 hours of focused chess time, 3-4 times per week. Stay active in the chess community to keep motivated. Success is a marathon, not a sprint!

With dedication and persistence, you have the potential to become a woman grandmaster. Keep learning, stay determined, and never stop improving your craft. You’ve got this! Now get out there and checkmate.

Notable WGMs to Study and Emulate

To become a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) in chess, studying the games and careers of notable WGMs can provide inspiration and guidance. Some of the all-time greats include:

Judit Polgár

image 15
Judith Polgar

Considered the strongest female chess player of all time, Judit Polgár reached a career-high ranking of 8 in the world. She was the first woman to qualify for a men’s World Championship and defeated eleven world champions in rapid or classical chess during her career. Analyzing her aggressive and tactical style of play can help you develop a killer instinct.

Hou Yifan

image 13
Hou Yifan

The youngest-ever women’s world chess champion, Hou Yifan of China is a prolific writer and has won four consecutive world titles. Her style focuses on strong positional play and endgames. Reviewing her games will strengthen your fundamentals and show how to grind out wins even in drawish positions.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

image 12
Alexandra Kostenuik

A chess prodigy, Alexandra Kosteniuk earned the WGM title at just 14 years old. She has won the European Women’s Chess Championship a record seven times. Her games feature creative openings and attacking chess. Studying how she achieves winning positions out of the opening can enrich your opening repertoire.

Humpy Koneru

image 14
Humpy Koneru

A winner of the 2019 Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship, Humpy Koneru of India has a dynamic playing style with a strong tactical sense. Analyzing her quick-witted attacks will sharpen your ability to spot combinations and deliver checkmate. At just 15, she became the youngest WGM at the time, showing what determination and hard work can achieve.

Other notable WGMs to study include Maia Chiburdanidze, Pia Cramling, and Anna Muzychuk. By emulating the games of these champions, you’ll pick up patterns and strategies to become a more formidable player on your quest to become a WGM.

Opportunities for WGMs – Tournaments, Coaching and More

As a WGM, several opportunities may open up for you in the chess world. Here are a few to consider:


Once you’ve achieved the WGM title, you’ll have the opportunity to compete in major women’s chess tournaments worldwide. These include the Women’s World Chess Championship cycle, Women’s Grand Prix series, and top invitational women’s events. Doing well in these events may lead to additional sponsorship and coaching opportunities.


Many WGMs work as chess coaches and trainers. Private or group coaching is a great way to share your knowledge and experience with up-and-coming players. You can coach players of all levels, from beginners just learning the game to students hoping to earn their own WGM title someday. Coaching is a rewarding opportunity that allows you to shape future generations of female players.

Writing & Media

WGMs are in high demand as chess journalists, writers, commentators, and presenters. You may have opportunities to write for chess magazines or websites, appear on podcasts, commentate live tournament games, or host your own video series. Sharing your experiences and insights through writing or media is a way to inspire other female players and promote women’s chess.


Many women’s chess governing bodies and committees seek WGMs to serve in leadership and administrative roles. You may have the chance to join FIDE’s Women’s Chess Committee or serve on committees for continental chess confederations like the Women’s Chess Commission of Americas. Helping to organize and shape policies for women’s chess competitions is a way to give back to the sport that has given you so much.

Becoming a WGM opens up a world of possibilities beyond competitive play. Whether through coaching, media, administration, or a combination, there are many opportunities for you to positively impact the game, promote women in chess, and forge your own path.


So there you have it, the key steps to reaching the title of Woman Grandmaster in chess. With passion, dedication, and persistence you can achieve this prestigious title and join the ranks of elite chess players worldwide. Don’t get discouraged if you stumble at first. Even the greatest players were once beginners. Stay focused on learning, improving your skills, and enjoying the game. Play as often as possible, study master games, get a strong coach, and participate in tournaments to gain experience. Before you know it, you’ll be achieving norms, reaching the required rating, and proudly adding WGM next to your name. Stay determined and keep your eyes on the prize.

Was this helpful? Share it with a friend :)
Follow ChessForSharks on social media
  • How to hack your chess improvement speed

    This is just placeholder text. It's just here to fill up space until we have real copy.

  • join the conversation

    Leave the first comment

    Work With Us

    We help chess brands create engaging and converting content
    We help innovative Chess brands and influencers create content that sparks engagement and drives revenue
    Content WritingContent PromotionContent StrategyContent Optimization

    Subscribe to our Newsletter

    Google reCaptcha: Invalid site key.

    Call to action

    You may also like...

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

    Get notified once the ebook is live

    * indicates required