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War is like a game of chess: with guts on top of it! And instead of chess pieces, there's just brave blood-hungry sons-of-bitches who love war!
The Soldier

The Grandmaster is a promotional cosmetic item for all classes. It is a team-colored hard hat, with a small chess board attached by a rubber spring and two strips of rubber, which bounce around as the player moves. On top of the chess board, a small device projects a small red bomb hologram on the RED team, and a blue wrench hologram on the BLU team, both of which rotate. As the player's killstreak rises, the hologram projection changes to various chess pieces.

This item was awarded in Genuine quality to players who purchased the Exclusive Team Fortress 2 Chess Set from ThinkGeek or the Valve Store.


The Grandmaster possesses an unique mechanic that changes the design of the hologram based on the wearer's killstreak. The design changes based on how many enemies were killed during a single life:

Number of kills RED BLU
0 kills Pawn Piece
Grandmaster RED Level 1.png Grandmaster BLU Level 1.png
1 kill Rook Piece
Grandmaster RED Level 2.png Grandmaster BLU Level 2.png
2 kills Knight Piece
Grandmaster RED Level 3.png Grandmaster BLU Level 3.png
3 kills Bishop Piece
Grandmaster RED Level 4.png Grandmaster BLU Level 4.png
4 kills Queen Piece
Grandmaster RED Level 5.png Grandmaster BLU Level 5.png
5 or more kills King Piece
Grandmaster RED Level 6.png Grandmaster BLU Level 6.png

Update history

October 2, 2013 Patch

  • The Grandmaster was added to the game.

November 11, 2013 Patch

  • The Grandmaster will now update its model based on the owner's current kill streak.

August 21, 2014 Patch

  • Fixed the Demoman not being able to equip The Grandmaster


  • The Grandmaster has its own Killstreak counter and does not require having any Killstreak weapons equipped to level up.
  • Assists does not contribute to the cosmetic's killstreak counter, and will not change the design of the hologram, meaning that kills made by the Medic's healing target does not contribute to the cosmetic's killstreak.
  • Sentry Guns built by Engineers will count towards the killstreak, and the holograms will be updated accordingly.
  • Killing Bots will contribute to the killstreak counter.


  • If a Spy is disguised as an enemy with The Grandmaster, the hat will appear as the Spy's team color.
  • There is a bug with the "Inspect Item" menu not allowing for the BLU version of the Grandmaster to be shown in the preview.
  • Touching a ressuply locker will reset the hologram's design back to the first one.


  • The item's description refers to a pair of chess matches in 1996 and 1997 between Garry Kasparov, a former World Chess Champion and considered by some as the best of all time, and Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer developed by IBM with the intent of beating a human world champion.
  • The title Grandmaster is awarded to chess players by the world chess organization FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can earn.