Sunday, 12 July 2015

On the topic of titles

Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the discussion of "cheap" titles always comes up around the top of the Oceania Zonal. Usually it is the same characters returning to the debate as well, proving that some people will never be happy.
In the case of the 2015 Oceania Zonal (Open), there was 1 IM (International Master) title, 3 FM (FIDE Master) titles and possibly 38 CM (Candidate Master) titles awarded. In the case of the IM and FM titles, the Australian Chess Federation (all players were from Australia btw) pay the fees for these titles. For the CM title it is up to the player to pay the 50 euro fee.
In the distant past the angst was about players receiving the FIDE Master title. Up until the turn of the millennium a player needed to score 50% in a zonal for recieve the title. This was fine until Zonal's became large swisses (as opposed to smaller Round robins), when events were awarding a large number of titles. As a lot of players received their FM title by getting their rating above 2300, and a lot of newer FM's did not have this rating, there was a lot of argument about who really deserved to be an FM. But given that the FM title was (at the time), the lowest title you could achieve, I never understood why some FM's felt that 'their' title had been devalued by this process, given that it was designed to cover a whole range of strengths.
Nonetheless FIDE introduced a lower title, the Candidate Master title. One change to the title system saw the qualification level for FM's at a zonal (50%) become the new requirement for the CM, while the FM was moved up to the old IM mark (65%). I would have thought this would have made the previously aggrieved FM's happy (and note, I am referring to a couple of specific and well known FM's in Australia), but it seems that the notion that anyone below a certain strength receiving a title somehow devalues their own title. All this shows to be me is a certain fragility of ego, as I don't see how this effects their own achievements.
My take on the whole matter of CM titles is that they are a good thing. For some players it will obviously be a stepping stone to higher titles, but for others, it will be the highest title they are likely to achieve. In both cases it makes sense to take the title, although I understand the reasons why some may not. Personally I would like to see more CM's in the region as it would combat the snobbery that works against taking the title, a snobbery that comes from people, who as I said previously, are never going to be happy anyway.

(Now for a couple of disclaimers: I have received both the CM and FM titles. Both were achieved for performances at the Chess Olympiad earning the CM title in 2008 and the FM title for my performance in the 2002 Olympiad, although it was awarded much later. I recognise that the FM title I earned is a distinct over achievement based on my actual chess strength, but I did score an undefeated 6/9 at a Chess Olympiad to earn it. And while I may have had concerns about taking it at an earlier time, the whole debate about who was a "real" FM actually made it a simple decision for me!
The second is that my son earned the CM title at the 2015 Oceania Zonal. At the time of writing this he has indicated he will not be claiming the title. He feels that as the FM title is an achievable goal, this is what he is aiming for)

1 comment:

Garvin said...

Hello Shaun,

Hopefully your next blog post will be on the issue of the time control :)