Statistics of chess players and events

by Martin Huba
2/10/2014 – How many FIDE rated players are there in the different countries? How many open and round robin tournaments are held in each? What is the total number of FIDE rated games played per year in the world, and which country leads the statistics (guess: Russia, India, Germany, France or Spain)? And who are the greatest exporters and importers of players? Numbers and graphs by Martin Huba.

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Within the FIDE Development Committee we have been discussing a lot about how to measure the development of chess in a simple but a clear way.  The objective is to have several performance indicators to give to the chess community information that covers the main trends, to motivate individual federations to think about the situation and to provoke a healthy competition at the same time.

In total there are six indicators discussed by the members of the Development Committee.

1. Number of active players with FIDE rating

The trend is very clear and positive: during the last five years the number of active players with FIDE rating has been almost doubled. 164 national federations contribute to the statistics. The table below shows the top 20 federations as they stood at the end of 2013:

# Federation 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 Spain 6 973 8 430 9 195 9 527 10 149
2 Germany 7 538 8 258 8 553 8 780 9 384
3 France 5 409 6 684 7 606 7 986 9 019
4 India 2 475 3 736 4 735 5 209 7 014
5 Russia 5 196 5 704 6 268 6 511 6 649
6 Czech Rep. 2 297 2 879 3 123 3 463 3 703
7 Italy 2 318 2 811 3 087 3 279 3 437
8 Poland 2 442 2 788 3 062 3 256 3 385
9 Hungary 2 534 2 967 3 060 3 150 3 350
10 Greece 1 214 1 571 1 813 1 985 2 201
11 Serbia 1 422 1 696 1 825 1 955 2 142
12 Slovakia 1 126 1 390 1 563 1 734 1 890
13 Netherlands 1 303 1 553 1 675 1 763 1 840
14 Austria 980 1 203 1 426 1 513 1 662
15 USA 828 1 194 1 415 1 544 1 646
16 Denmark 864 1 155 1 284 1 438 1 619
17 Turkey 660 834 1 000 1 146 1 554
18 Croatia 1 184 1 397 1 427 1 474 1 532
19 Ireland 554 731 1 193 1 393 1 528
20 Belgium 707 922 1 044 1 155 1 371

The top 20 federations have around 74% of all active FIDE rated players in the world. Just two of these federations, India and USA, are not members of the ECU. The share of all 54 European federations is therefore even more crucial.

2. Number of open tournaments

The trend is very positive. Open tournaments are mainly about the mass promotion of chess, about giving possibilities to weaker players to play with stronger ones. The increase is by 37% during the monitored period. But who organised the most of opens? Let's have a look on the top 20 federations in this group:

# Federation 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 France 629 565 697 703
2 Spain 479 497 570 512
3 Russia 354 417 517 503
4 Italy 419 454 515 486
5 Germany 299 311 331 363
6 Poland 230 280 325 344
7 Greece 186 212 259 258
8 Hungary 154 155 172 250
9 USA 155 212 245 211
10 Netherlands 149 168 166 200
11 India 96 132 150 180
12 Denmark 83 126 151 168
13 Czech Rep. 96 114 149 145
14 Turkey 79 79 82 133
15 Brazil 104 118 136 130
16 Portugal 116 118 129 125
17 Romania 96 106 132 124
18 England 45 55 86 116
19 Croatia 112 95 117 104
20 Austria 44 59 70 103

The top 20 federations organised 71.45% of all open tournaments in the world. With the exception of India and the USA, Brazil was the third non-European federation that got into the top 20.

3. Number of round robin tournaments

The number of round robin tournaments went down in 2013. These tournaments are more about quality (of course not always) and therefore more demanding on sufficient sponsorship. The global financial crisis probably had some influence too. The analysis of the average rating of these tournament and the trend could be another interesting topic for further analysis.

# Federation 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 Denmark 71 139 155 187
2 France 102 79 165 141
3 Russia 139 171 145 105
4 Spain 86 81 77 82
5 Hungary 84 97 95 76
6 Germany 67 70 56 62
7 Ukraine 74 58 52 56
8 Sweden 30 35 34 46
9 USA 33 44 53 41
10 Poland 46 40 37 35
11 Argentina 43 34 39 34
12 Brazil 37 61 39 33
13 Czech Rep. 30 34 25 26
14 Australia 21 18 24 25
15 Mexico 18 20 19 24
16 Serbia 13 16 11 17
17 Romania 15 12 24 17
18 Cuba 43 42 24 15
19 Yemen 0 0 0 14
20 Norway 2 7 9 14

The top 20 federations organised 71.43% of all round robin tournaments. The number one position of Denmark is a surprise, but here again we only compare the number of tournaments, not their objective strength. Stronger tournaments are probably organised more in France and especially Russia.

4. Number of games

In 2013 there were almost one million FIDE rated games played in total around the world. Each day an average of 2737 games are played. The trend is also quite positive and it's quite obvious that there is still a very promising potential.

# Federation 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 Spain 155 675 163 243 174 018 189 945
2 India 86 652 125 131 131 830 182 640
3 France 127 061 151 458 160 598 180 281
4 Germany 114 761 119 678 121 692 139 928
5 Russia 121 929 134 884 137 486 137 614
6 Poland 57 665 65 598 64 807 81 508
7 Czech Rep. 62 943 67 633 63 577 78 871
8 Italy 59 849 70 263 74 314 72 702
9 Hungary 60 046 61 747 59 942 71 116
10 Greece 37 055 53 985 52 584 55 841
11 Serbia 25 994 28 101 32 759 35 039
12 Turkey 24 290 19 241 35 559 34 856
13 Austria 19 905 27 894 23 355 34 319
14 USA 23 100 29 442 33 001 33 421
15 Romania 25 468 26 678 27 409 32 823
16 Slovakia 24 388 27 891 31 479 32 530
17 Denmark 17 659 22 934 26 145 31 419
18 Ireland 15 217 19 433 26 824 30 665
19 Croatia 33 441 24 986 30 603 29 328
20 England 15 961 18 483 21 040 26 631

Spain, India and France are leaders in this group, with the growth of FIDE rated games in India being the most promising. Probably the former World Champion has had some influence.

5. Number of games played by foreigners in the country (chess export)

This indicator is interesting from the point of view of organisers of chess tournaments, who want to know whether they can attract foreign players. The trend is not so important – the fact to remember is the 25% of all games are in average played by foreign players. The federation that has the higher indicator (for example 28%) is successful and most probably very active in getting foreign players in the country.

# Federation 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 France 16 434 18 936 17 694 17 460
2 Germany 12 152 10 999 13 301 15 837
3 Czech Rep. 15 162 13 740 8 972 15 530
4 Spain 16 702 14 962 13 881 15 161
5 Austria 5 492 8 498 5 326 10 270
6 Poland 5 668 4 162 4 484 8 807
7 England 5 681 6 619 8 702 8 565
8 Greece 5 363 14 492 8 748 7 592
9 Russia 16 229 9 576 8 818 7 453
10 Montenegro 505 492 679 7 208
11 Italy 7 831 10 562 8 649 6 890
12 Switzerland 6 428 7 073 6 139 6 409
13 Croatia 9 235 4 126 6 359 6 359
14 Hungary 6 852 6 611 6 948 6 329
15 USA 3 580 5 018 6 597 6 179
16 Bulgaria 4 262 9 218 8 094 5 508
17 UAE 1 390 2 337 4 402 4 608
18 Serbia 5 137 2 256 3 048 4 400
19 India 2 919 3 227 3 812 4 016
20 Netherlands 3 319 4 002 4 827 3 977

France and Germany are leaders of this group. The Czech Republic ranks the third and proves that it belongs to the world's top chess exporters.

6. Number of games of the country players played abroad (chess import)

Chess import reflects the travelling of national players abroad. There can be at least three reasons:

  1. Travel to an interesting destination and combining the pleasant stay with a hobby.
  2. Trip to a tournament of better quality to gain experiences or titles.
  3. Play abroad as an invited player with a title to try to make money.
# Country 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 Germany 17 023 19 461 15 532 20 403
2 Russia 15 975 14 997 14 730 19 160
3 Ukraine 8 987 9 729 8 476 8 730
4 Netherlands 6 450 6 821 6 123 7 113
5 India 5 531 5 228 7 107 6 734
6 France 5 974 6 366 5 202 6 664
7 Poland 5 630 6 066 5 570 6 300
8 Serbia 5 566 5 359 5 261 5 892
9 Italy 5 396 5 072 5 248 5 535
10 Hungary 4 293 4 736 4 732 5 075
11 Belgium 4 373 4 372 4 446 5 068
12 England 4 261 4 067 4 663 4 955
13 Norway 3 505 3 839 3 718 4 715
14 Romania 4 160 4 631 3 897 4 660
15 Czech Rep. 4 746 4 199 4 439 4 462
16 Spain 3 333 4 073 3 084 4 258
17 Slovakia 4 035 4 223 2 956 4 017
18 Slovenia 2 679 3 111 2 787 3 694
19 Sweden 3 150 2 817 3 044 3 622
20 Bulgaria 4 112 3 855 3 591 3 608

Germany, Russia and Ukraine are leaders in this group.

It would be interesting to analyse “chess trade balance” whether a country attracts more foreign players to its tournaments (chess import) or whether its own players tend to travel to play abroad (chess export). Slovakia for example has a negative chess trade balance totalling minus 1210 games. It means Slovak players played 1210 more games abroad than foreigners in Slovakia, in 2013. To make the balance equal there would be a need to organise a few more open tournaments in Slovakia, and probably there would be a market for such a step.


Topics Huby, Statistics

Martin Huba graduated at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Slovakia. He has worked as an IT expert, marketing and sales person and has extensive experience in strategic planning.
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