Michael McDowell sends these thoughts -
“The new solving ratings list has recently been published on the PCCC website. It makes interesting reading. A few years ago the PCCC decided to change the title qualification rules. Before it sufficed to obtain the appropriate number of norms - two for FM and IM, three for GM. The rule change introduced the additional requirement of achieving at some time a minimum grade in order to gain the respective title - 2400 for FM, 2500 for IM and 2600 for GM.
The new list includes highest achieved gradings for each solver. No less than nineteen titled solvers (five GMs, four IMs and ten FMs) have never achieved the minimum grading requirement for their title. In addition, two of the GMs have never achieved the minimum grading requirement for the IM title! No-one can argue with the validity of the titles, as the holders fulfilled the requirements in force at the time. The only other option would have been to rescind the titles until the solvers achieved the appropriate gradings.
The new rules were a response to the increase in the number of events (mostly national championships) which are now eligible for norms. Most of these take place in central Europe, and examination of the results reveals a group of solvers who compete in most if not all such events. While it is pleasing to see more solving tourneys taking place and more solvers taking part, it has become harder for those outside of central Europe to gain titles. When norms alone were required, two (or three) good performances would suffice. A high grade is something which takes participation in many more events to achieve. Perhaps this is something that was not anticipated when the rule change was introduced.”