According to its Handbook, FIDE awards the following titles for “over-the-board standard chess" - Grandmaster (GM), International Master (IM), FIDE Master (FM), Candidate Master (CM), Woman Grandmaster (WGM), Woman International Master (WIM), Woman FIDE Master (WFM), Woman Candidate Master (WCM).
These titles are “valid for life from the date confirmed.” But how are these titles awarded?
“Titles may be awarded for specific results in specific Championship events, or are awarded on achieving a rating as laid down in these regulations. Such titles are confirmed by the Qualifications Committee (QC) Chairman on advice from the FIDE Office. They are then awarded by FIDE.
Titles are also awarded based on applications with norms with a sufficient number of games. These titles shall be awarded by the General Assembly on recommendation by the QC that the candidate meets the requirements. The Presidential Board or Executive Board may award titles in clear cases only, after consultation with the QC."
Simply, if you want to be bestowed the title of “Grandmaster”, there are four things necessary -
“First, score three Grandmaster results or ‘norms’ in FIDE-sanctioned tournaments;
Two, reach a minimum rating of 2500 in the FIDE rating system;
Three, have the federation to complete all the required paperwork including norm certificates and pay the processing fees;
Four, receive conferral by FIDE.”
However, achieving a “master title” in chess is not easy. The road to that much coveted title is riddled with frustrations. IM Silman in an article about getting an IM or a GM title says that -
“Getting an IM or GM title demands endless effort. You will fail, you will continue to study, you will fail again, etc. etc. for years. Pain (losing and failing is agony, and few can handle it as time goes by), time (as I said a moment ago, years and years), and money (chess books, chess software, traveling to tournaments, chess teachers, etc.) must all be dealt with to become a grandmaster.”
While a “title” is important, it is not necessary to enjoy chess. Just like the old man at the chess plaza, chess is a means to enjoy life in the most simplistic manner. With chess, everyone can control a kingdom and be a “king” or a “queen”. The game does not discriminate between young and old, rich or poor. Chess speaks a universal language understood by everyone. It connects all people and it does not recognize any form of boundaries.
A title hunt despite the tremendous effort it entails is never wasted. After all the training, study, books, coaches, and tournaments - everything will eventually translate into improving yourself as a chess player and as a person. Always remember that chess gives several benefits which far outweighs any "title". Just play and enjoy chess!