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Which is the world's biggest chess nation?

10/28/2013 – Russia, of course. Everybody knows that. Well, not even close. The All India Chess Federation has informed us that it is now India, which ties with France as the country with the greatest number of FIDE rated players (35,200). But India, which forty years ago had one (ONE!) rated player, is growing steeply, while France is doing so only moderately. AICF press release and our own statistics.
 

India, France Have FIDE Most Rated Players

India has just moved up to join France as the No. One ranked chess nation in terms of FIDE rated players. India rose to 35,200, and this number will be moving back and forth in the next few days until November when India is expected to be No. One.

Strangely, 35,200 is the same as France, the leader for over ten years. But India is growing steeply and France moderately. This had to happen. This week, one can expect India to surge ahead of the French number and never look back! Asia set to rule world chess.

About four decades back, India had just Manuel Aaron (above) on the rating list. People still remember him since his name was the first entry in the rating list for many decades. For many years he was the only Indian and later among the few Indians.

Since, Anand won the World Junior in 1987 (photo above) and then went on to became World Champion in Tehran 2000, the numbers tended to grow sharply. More players took to the game in the summer of 2001 and the progress kept growing.

Anand might be the primary cause for all this but the organisers, particularly, the All India Chess Federation did plenty of ground work. Rated events were organised all over the country and particularly more in the state of Tamil Nadu, Anand's home state.

In Europe, when Veselin Topalov emerged, Bulgaria's mobile networks supported elite events. In India it was even more basic. NIIT together with many state Governments supported school chess. On its part, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu went several steps ahead and cleared the way for chess in schools programme. Children in the age group 7-17 play chess in Tamil Nadu. Many states have chess in schools programme, but Tamil Nadu is one step ahead. They also practically implement it.

Two years back, India had overtaken the Germans and the Russians in the rating list. Earlier this year, the Indians went past Spain. Now, when experts were expecting India to get the better of France around March 2014, this sudden surge in the chess activity related to the world championship has helped India go past or equal France in October.

India's growth style is pyramid. The base is broad. A recent study related article in The Economist said more Indians play chess than any other nation. This number comes as no surprise. But that it came a few months ago needs to be analysed, since we might be observing a 2013 wave on the back of this Anand v Carlsen match, which could be several times bigger than the 2001 Anand wave after he won the world title in 2000.

The AICF and its administrators have laid a perfect platform for chess to grow in the land which invented the game. Our style will soon be copied by leading lights and European nations. Anand is in his final phase of preparation and not available to react to this good news. "It is all team effort," said V. Hariharan, Honorary Secretary of the All India Chess Federation while reacting to this news. "This is great news," said Bharat Singh, CEO of the AICF. D.V. Sundar, Vice President of FIDE was delighted about the timing of this achievement as India is making the final touches to the organising of the Anand v Carlsen match from Nov 7-28.

AICF Press Release – 28.10.2013


Chess Statistics 2012

Last year Boris Schipkov has taken a closer look at the January 2012 FIDE Rating List and come up with some interesting stats. There were at the time 133,549 players in the list, with an average rating of 1953.7. The greatest number of rated chess players live in (would you have guessed?) Germany – 15,442. The great chess nation Russia has 14,422 players with international ratings.

Number of internationally rated players

Pl Country
Nat.
Jan 2008
percent
Jan 2012
percent
1 Germany
GER
11,123
12.7
15,442
11.6
2 Russia
RUS
10,036
11.4
14,422
10.8
3 Spain
ESP
6,901
7.9
12,054
9.0
4 France
FRA
5,690
6.5
10,099
7.6
5 India
IND
3,370
3.8
7,954
6.0
6 Poland
POL
3,553
4.0
5,416
4.1
7 Italy
ITA
2,441
2.8
4,670
3.5
8 Hungary
HUN
2,893
3.3
4,216
3.2
9 Czech Republic
CZE
2,586
2.9
4,054
3.0
10 Serbia
SRB
2,396
2.7
3,043
2.3
11 United States
USA
1,824
2.1
2,691
2.0
12 Greece
GRE
1,252
1.4
2,375
1.8
13 Ukraine
UKR
1,643
1.9
2,355
1.8
14 Netherlands
NED
1,581
1.8
2,190
1.6
15 Austria
AUT
1,507
1.7
1,987
1.5
16 Romania
ROU
1,386
1.6
1,894
1.4
17 Brazil
BRA
1,041
1.2
1,885
1.4
18 Croatia
CRO
1,363
1.6
1,884
1.4
19 Slovakia
SVK
1,152
1.3
1,810
1.4
Other  
24,003
27.4
33,108
24.8
All  
87,741
100.0
133,549
100.0

Schipkov has examined the trend in the last four years and tracked the increase in the number of players. The greatest increase was in Spain, with 5153 new rated players, followed by India, France, Russia and Germany.

Increase in the number of rated players

Pl Country
Nat.
Jan 2008
Jan 2012
Increase
percent
1 Spain
ESP
6,901
12,054
5,153
74.67
2 India
IND
3,370
7,954
4,584
136.02
3 France
FRA
5,690
10,099
4,409
77.49
4 Russia
RUS
10,036
14,422
4,386
43.70
5 Germany
GER
11,123
15,442
4,319
38.83
6 Italy
ITA
2,441
4,670
2,229
91.32
7 Poland
POL
3,553
5,416
1,863
52.43
8 Czech Republic
CZE
2,586
4,054
1,468
56.77
9 Hungary
HUN
2,893
4,216
1,323
45.73
10 Greece
GRE
1,252
2,375
1,123
89.70
11 Iran
IRI
550
1,638
1,088
197.82
12 United States
USA
1,824
2,691
867
47.53
13 Turkey
TUR
610
1,466
856
140.33
14 Brazil
BRA
1,041
1,885
844
81.08
15 Ukraine
UKR
1,643
2,355
712
43.34
16 Slovakia
SVK
1,152
1,810
658
57.12
17 Serbia
SRB
2,396
3,043
647
27.00
18 Denmark
DEN
1,024
1,664
640
62.50
19 Peru
PER
258
871
613
237.60
20 Netherlands
NED
1,581
2,190
609
38.52
21 Belgium
BEL
635
1,229
594
93.54
All
87,741
133,549
45,808
52.21

Players from China now have the highest average rating – 2193.39. Players from Indonesia have the second highest average rating – 2163.53. Schpkov only took into consideration countries with more than 100 rated players. You should note that the general decrease in the average ratings is to be expected, as large numbers of new players join the lists. As beginners they are inevitably at the bottom of the ratings lists.

Average ratings of the rated players

Pl Country Nat.
Players
Ø Jan 2008
Ø Jan 2012
Change
1 China CHN
468
2235.60
2193.39
-42.21
2 Indonesia INA
212
2212.42
2163.53
-48.89
3 Kazakhstan KAZ
487
2184.24
2126.43
-57.81
4 Israel ISR
905
2175.11
2124.01
-51.10
5 Macedonia MKD
220
2173.25
2120.93
-52.32
6 United States USA
2,691
2193.93
2119.83
-74.10
7 Canada CAN
631
2155.56
2106.21
-49.36
8 Estonia EST
193
2155.65
2104.19
-51.46
9 Ukraine UKR
2,355
2182.17
2101.77
-80.40
10 Cuba CUB
1310
2140.39
2097.57
-42.82
11 Uzbekistan UZB
292
2171.56
2085.40
-86.16
12 Armenia ARM
422
2190.23
2081.91
-108.32
13 Sweden SWE
1,109
2146.03
2081.57
-64.46
14 Serbia SRB
3,043
2145.38
2080.95
-64.43
15 Montenegro MNE
279
2147.32
2064.06
-83.26
16 Finland FIN
586
2126.44
2059.97
-66.47
17 Russia RUS
14,422
2141.40
2059.80
-81.60
18 Latvia LAT
294
2141.32
2059.12
-82.20
19 Turkmenistan TKM
159
2148.79
2056.55
-92.24
20 Algeria ALG
131
2127.49
2056.48
-71.01
21 Netherlands NED
2,190
2112.81
2056.00
-56.81
All
133,549
2073.94
1953.70
-120.25

The largest number of titled players – grandmasters, International Masters and FIDE Masters – live in Russia. In second place is Ukraine, in third Germany. Here are the number of GMs and their average ratings.

Titled players

Pl. Country
2008
2012
Ch
AvR
IMs
FMs
WGM
WIM
1 Russia
177
206
29
2539.36
475
926
42
91
2 Ukraine
65
76
11
2556.29
192
114
20
30
3 Germany
67
75
8
2509.83
223
718
14
37
4 United States
61
69
8
2513.6
112
288
11
21
5 Serbia
46
52
6
2486.63
97
305
12
16
6 Hungary
40
49
9
2520.57
103
202
8
16
7 France
32
45
13
2540.53
95
155
5
17
8 Israel
34
39
5
2529.33
45
51
4
8
9 Spain
30
36
6
2505.53
102
254
3
10
10 England
35
35
0
2523.60
55
88
3
10
11 Bulgaria
25
33
8
2497.57
50
14
5
12
12 Poland
25
32
7
2548.19
96
115
10
24
13 Armenia
20
32
12
2540.97
22
14
4
7
14 Croatia
29
30
1
2517.23
54
122
3
8
15 China
20
29
9
2561.97
22
20
18
10
16 Netherlands
22
28
6
2543.93
74
136
3
13
17 Czech Republic
23
27
4
2508.33
68
120
5
12
18 India
16
25
9
2554.16
76
41
8
16
19 Georgia
22
24
2
2542.71
37
10
11
13
20 Romania
19
20
1
2532.00
68
87
12
13
21 Azerbaijan
16
20
4
2574.65
16
12
5
8
22 Cuba
13
19
6
2522.89
28
136
8
10
Other
282
283
1
2509.89
760
1696
41
168
All
1,119
1,284
165
2525.43
2,870
5,624
255
570

Source: Chess Siberia

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