HomeLearn to Play ChessImprove Your GameChess HistoryChess for FunChess Blog

FIDE : Fédération Internationale des Échecs
The International Chess Federation was founded at Paris in 1924. Gens Una Sumus!

FIDE (pronounced fee-day) is a French acronym for the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, better known in English as the International Chess Federation or World Chess Federation. In June 1999 it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an International Sports Federation. This made it the body responsible for the organization of chess championships at the global and continental levels.

The IOC recognition was long overdue -- FIDE had organized the Olympiad since 1927 and the World Championship since 1948. FIDE also issues the rules of chess, calculates international ratings, and awards titles for over-the-board play and for chess composition. Its support stems from member countries and their delegates, who meet at the annual FIDE Congress.


In his first tournament after winning the World Championship title from Emanuel Lasker, Jose Capablanca won a master tournament at London in 1922, where he was followed by Alexander Alekhine and Akiba Rubinstein. During the event, part of the British Chess Federation Congress, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, a Russian master living in Paris, announced that the French Federation would host an international team competition in 1924 to coincide with the Olympic Games in the French capital.

That first world team competition was called the Chess Olympic Games. It is not counted as an official Chess Olympiad, because it was not organized by FIDE and because the scoring was not the same as for later events.

The year 1924 is important in chess history, not because of this competition, but because of the formation of FIDE by the players present in Paris. Founded on 20 July 1924, the protocol was signed by the delegates of 15 countries.

The Frenchman Pierre Vincent (d.1956) is credited as the visionary who put forward the idea and took the first steps towards its realization. The first President of FIDE, Dr. Alexander Rueb of the Netherlands, was also elected in Paris and served the office for a quarter of a century.

FIDE's first competitions were organized in conjunction with the FIDE Congress, Budapest 1926. The 4th Congress, London 1927, was held with the first Men's Olympiad and the first Women's World Championship.

Although it had more ambitious objectives, FIDE limited its activities to organizing these events during its first two decades. It exercised no influence on the system of competition for the World Championship title. FIDE's weak point was the small number of member countries, especially the absence of the Soviet Union.

Following the death of the reigning World Champion Alekhine in 1946, FIDE took control of the world titles for over-the-board chess. It gained unquestioned acceptance as the supreme chess organization when the Soviet Union joined in 1947. It then undertook the organization of a system for the World Championship.

The system started with a series of qualifying events, known as Zonal tournaments, organized in designated FIDE zones around the world. The winners of the Zonals progressed to an Interzonal tournament, from which the top finishers qualified into a Candidates event. The winner of this event qualified for a title match with the reigning World Champion. The full cycle repeated every three years, with the Zonals for the next cycle held the same year as the title match for the current cycle.

The system was tweaked through the years -- the Interzonal was split into two and then three tournaments, and the Candidates tournament was replaced by a series of knockout matches -- but the cycle continued to produce a recognized World Champion for almost 50 years. In 1997, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov replaced the Interzonal, Candidates, and title match with a series of knockout matches designed to produce a champion after only 1-2 months of play.

FIDE Presidents
1924-1949 Rueb, Alexander Netherlands
1949-1970 Rogard, Folke Sweden
1970-1978 Euwe, Machgielis (Max) Netherlands
1978-1982 Olafsson, Fridrik Iceland
1982-1995 Campomanes, Florencio Philippines
1995 Ilyumzhinov, Kirsan Kalmykia


FIDE awards the titles of International Grandmaster (GM), International Master (IM), FIDE Master (FM), Woman Grandmaster (WGM), Woman International Master (WIM), Woman FIDE Master (WFM), and International Arbiter, as well as other titles. In 1950, when FIDE took control of assigning titles, the initial selections were based on subjective considerations, and were limited to living, not necessarily active, players. 27 players were identified as GMs in the Golden Book of FIDE. The first list also included 94 IMs and 17 WMs.

Objective criteria for title candidates were introduced in 1957. Before the criteria were revised, the list expanded to 43 GMs, 189 IMs, and 40 WMs. The new criteria were based on title norms, achieved in events where titled players participated. The norm was the sum of a required score against each of three categories of player : GMs, IMs, and untitled players.

The first international ratings were calculated for 200 active players in international tournaments during the 1966-68 period. A dozen players had USCF ratings, making it possible to align FIDE and USCF ratings. Results from 1969-70 were used to adjust the initial ratings and to produce the first official FIDE list in 1971. The rating list was then incorporated into the title process.

The average rating of the players in a tournament was used to assign the event to a category. A title norm was earned whenever a minimum percentage score for that category was achieved. For example, in a category 10 event (with an average rating of the participants in the range of 2476 to 2500), a GM norm required a 67% score, an IM norm a 47% score, and a WGM norm a 40% score.

The current regulations require that a GM title can be obtained by achieving two or more GM results (norms) 'in events covering at least 24 games (30 games without a round robin or Olympiad) and a rating of at least 2500 in the FIDE Rating List current at the time the FIDE Congress considers the application, or within seven years of the first title result being achieved'. The IM title requires two or more IM results and a rating of at least 2400.

The FIDE web site (follow the link box at the bottom of this article) has a wealth of information on FIDE practices. For more information on how FIDE is organized, see the FIDE Handbook.

 Related Resources
• Chess Events (offsite)
• Chess Ratings
 Elsewhere on the Web (offsite)