Help to make Sultan Khan a Grandmaster!

by Sagar Shah
5/15/2020 – At his peak Mir Sultan Khan was one of the best players in the world. He was a three-time British Champion, and beat top players like Capablanca, Rubinstein, Yates or Tartakower. However, FIDE has never made him a Grandmaster while many other players were given the title. A petition now asks FIDE to honour Mir Sultan Khan and his achievements with the grandmaster title.

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Sultan Khan: A brief history

Sultan Khan was born in 1905 in  Mitha Tiwana in the Khushab district of the Punjab. 23 years later he became National Chess Champion of India. He went on to win the British Championships three times and won against great players like Capablanca, Tartakower, Flohr, and many others.

Some of the achievements of Sultan Khan:

1. He won the British Championship three times: 1929, 1932, 1933.

2. The first half of 1931 was probably the best period for him: he defeated Capablanca at Hastings (although he only came 3rd after throwing away a game against Euwe).

3. He then played Tartakower in a 12-game match defeating him 6½-5½.

4. In the Prague International Team Tournament he scored 11½/17 against many of the leading players of the day, drawing with the World Champion Alekhine and defeating Flohr.

We, at ChessBase, want to raise awareness what a great player Sultan Khan was and we want to make an appeal to FIDE to consider granting him the Grandmaster title posthumously. In his brief but meteoric career, Sultan Khan rose to the top of the chess world, playing on even terms with the world's best players.

Sultan Khan - A truly deserving Grandmaster

According to, a website that calculates historical chess ratings, Sultan Khan was one of the world's top ten players for a couple of years, and at his peak he was the number 6 in the world.

It would be fitting if he were given recognition for his achievements. In 1950, when FIDE first awarded the titles of International Grandmaster and International Master, Sultan Khan had not played for 15 years. Although FIDE awarded titles to some long-retired players with distinguished careers – e.g. Ossip Bernstein, Ernst Grünfeld, Boris Kostic, Géza Maroczy, Jacques Mieses, Akiba Rubinstein, Friedrich Sämisch, Savielly Tartakower, Milan Vidmar, Carlos Torre, and others – it never awarded any title to Sultan Khan.

Your support is essential

Sultan Khan deserves the Grandmaster title. He died in 1966 but a player of his stature should be recognized and celebrated with the Grandmaster title. If you sign the petition linked below you help to ask FIDE to grant him the title.


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.


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Heavygeardiver Heavygeardiver 5/17/2020 07:39
This honor is well past due!! I will sign and share on my chess social media.
green_pawn green_pawn 5/17/2020 04:10
Hi Frits Fritschy,

With Sultan Khan's grand daughter demanding the book be recalled (see link below) I'm thinking now I must get a copy as it will soon become a collectors item.

But this could be part of plan 'B' to shift some more copies of Sultan Khan : ( the game has turned me paranoid - I look for a scam in everything.)

As I said at Red Hot Pawn. maybe Danny should give his G.M. title to the Sultan and everyone will be happy.

Sultan Khan by Daniel King'- A granddaughter's review:

Hi Quarter Patzer,

It was at one time very hard to become a G.M. Between 1954 and 1959 only three Soviet players, Korchnoi, Spassky and Tal were awarded the title.

Years later FIDE introduced the 3 norm method (and a fee - it's always about the money) where you could spread norms over many years and now the title has been somewhat demeaned with approx 1,500 of them swanning about.

Let's just all agree Sultan Khan was a very good player and deserves an honorary G.M.title. Working out a way to give it to him via the three norm system makes it sound like a fiddle, too ordinary (and who would pay the fee?)
chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/17/2020 03:16
@SUPER_NEZH Nezhmedtinov was an International Master and played some brilliant games, but didn't have consistent results and was less than 2500 ELO.
Quarter Patzer Quarter Patzer 5/17/2020 01:30
Why don't we apply the FIDE rules for awarding the GM title? If we accept the retroactive calculations from, then the tournaments where Sultan Khan had participated can be rated, or not, as competitions that are eligible to give one the opportunity to achieve a grandmaster norm. If Sultan Khan's performances meet all the criteria, the most important one being the achievement of three such GM norms , then it would be only just to award him, post-mortem, the GM title. Can do that for us?
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/17/2020 01:16
I just read the review of Daniel King's book by Dr Atyab Sultan, quoted on redhotpawn, after following your link. Without any rebuttal by King, it is quite devastating. It can be found here: Let's see if Mr. King has an answer.
green_pawn green_pawn 5/16/2020 05:15
In the past FIDE have given out Honorary G.M. titles and this lad appears to have been missed.

Cannot see why not, ever since FIDE lowered the bar for getting a G.M. title (it used to be candidates qualifiers only - making it about 100 'real' GM's ) they have been giving G.M. titles out like confetti.

Yes give the lad his G.M. title (would, as another poster suggests, he want one?) and catch up on all the others (too numerous to mention.) as well.

Also agree with previous poster that the coincidence of Dany's book and this appeal can be seen as a publicity stunt.

Which it obviously is - 10 out of 10 for that one and can anyone join in.

Geoff Chandler
daftarche daftarche 5/16/2020 03:17
Yes! Sultan Khan should be awarded GM title so Daniel King can sell more copies of his recent book on Sultan Khan.
wb_munchausen wb_munchausen 5/16/2020 12:59
Just being the Devil's Advocate here, but giving the GM title to Mir Sultan Khan now may even degrade his standing, in that it throws him into the mix as an equal to all the current players who are awarded the title.
malfa malfa 5/16/2020 11:34
Frankly I see no reason for awarding post mortem titles, but that of celebrating themselves by the people who promote such initiatives.
doctormate doctormate 5/16/2020 03:48
Thanks for doing this! I am reaching out to all my chess friends on facebook and also multiple sites to help get the petition filled. -Paul Leggett
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 5/15/2020 11:00
Maybe chessbase should retract this initiative for the moment and reintroduce it in normal times, because it now smacks a bit like you are getting desperate to fill this space. No problem when you do this with New York 1924, but I don't like it when you use the memories to a great chess player for this. Reaching out to your Indian audience?
saturn23 saturn23 5/15/2020 10:36
Isaac Kashdan was another player who did not get the GM title in 1950. And he was top 10 for almost 10 years. He was even number 2 for almost 2 years!
saturn23 saturn23 5/15/2020 10:31
And shockingly, even Efim Bogoljubov did not get the title of GM in 1950! He got it later. Bogoljubov played twice for the WC title.
He was top 10 for more than 16 years and he was even number 1 at some point!
saturn23 saturn23 5/15/2020 10:19
Vladimir Makogonov was one player who did not get the GM title in 1950. And he deserved it more than Sultan Khan according to chessmetrics:

- Peak rating: 2735 (compared with Sultan Khan's 2699)
- Top 10 for about 4 years (compared with 3 years)
- Best world rank: 5 (compared with 6)
- He played for about 15 years before 1950 (compared with 5 years).
saturn23 saturn23 5/15/2020 10:02
For good reasons, FIDE did not award the GM title to Sultan Khan in 1950. He was not as strong as the other players who got the GM title at the time and especially he played much less than all of them. He played for about 5 years while most of the players who got the title played for 40-50 years!

You should retract the petition and start a new one for awarding the GM title to the real legends of the chess: Morphy, Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine!
saturn23 saturn23 5/15/2020 09:55
Sultan Khan has been a top 10 player for about 3 years, according to chessmetrics:

1930 July: 21 (rank)
1931 Jan : 15
1931 July : 14
1932 Jan: 10
1932 July: 8
1933 Jan: 7
1933 July: 8
1934 Jan: 8
1934 July: 7
1935 Jan: 10

His highest rating was 2699. By contrast some of the players who got the GM title in 1950 had (much) higher rating:

Oldřich Duras - 2743
Géza Maróczy - 2820
Akiba Rubinstein - 2789
Milan Vidmar - 2731
Ernst Grünfeld - 2715
Saviely Tartakower - 2719

Sultan Khan played for about 5 years. By contrast, all the player who got the GM title in 1950 played much longer:

Ossip Bernstein - 51 years
Oldřich Duras - 13 years
Ernst Grünfeld - 36 years
Boris Kostić - 44 years
Grigory Levenfish - ~50 years
Géza Maróczy - 44 years
Jacques Mieses - over 60 years!
Viacheslav Ragozin - over 30 years
Akiba Rubinstein - 28 years
Friedrich Sämisch - almost 50 years
Milan Vidmar - 48 years
Saviely Tartakower - 48 years
saturn23 saturn23 5/15/2020 09:25
I DO NOT support this petition! Sultan Khan was a great natural talent. However, people should really to some research and think before supporting this petition.

First of all, if we want to award the GM title to chess players from the past we should start with Morphy, Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine.

When FIDE awarded the GM title to some of the older players in 1950 they have used some criteria to decide who deserves the title. All the players who have received the title at the time had long careers, while Sultan Khan played only for a few years.

If you look at the chessmetrics rating for the decade 1925-1934, Sultan Khan is not among the top 12:
PhishMaster PhishMaster 5/15/2020 02:54
I agree.

@SUPER_NEZH, I recently sent this letter to FIDE requesting just that, and never heard back.

Dear President Dvorkovich,

My name is Kevin Cotreau from New Hampshire in the USA, and I am a long-time USCF Master (when I was active, it was very hard to get a FIDE rating in the U.S., so I am not FIDE rated). I have been well-known on ICC, and other chess sites, as PhishMaster since 1997, and I recently answered a question on Stack Exchange Chess about why Rashid Nezhmetdinov was not a Grandmaster.

That brings me to the point of this email, and that is, I would love to see “Super Nezh” be awarded the GM title posthumously. Since titles have been awarded in 1950, he is probably the strongest player ever not to get the title, and it was only due to the restrictive ways of the former Soviet Union. Is there anything that can be done? I think that this is an honor that is long overdue.

Thank you for your time.


Kevin Cotreau aka PhishMaster
(address and phone number redacted)

P.S. Here is a link to the question and answer I referenced:

P.P.S. I follow American Football, and the Hall of Fame voting every year includes one “Senior Candidate”. That is a player, who played at least 25 years ago, who they now believe should be a member of the Hall of Fame. FIDE should consider such a process, not for a Hall of Fame, but to grant the GM title to someone, who clearly was a GM, but for some reason was unable to earn the title. The criteria, while subjective, should be overwhelming so as not to start giving it away.
SUPER_NEZH SUPER_NEZH 5/15/2020 02:19

Why Rachid Nezhmetdinhov not decerned a grandmaster title too?!
Nice day!