FIDE – An Inglorious Inventory
By Léo Battesti, Vice President of the French Chess Federation

It seems incredible, but the work of Fabrice Touvron is a first. His tables (link at the bottom of the page) give details, federation by federation, of the number of FIDE rated players by rating classes as well as the number of rated games that are played. This data allows to better understand the state of chess in the world. And a few months before FIDE elections, this analysis reveals the sorry state of our sport in the world.

Elitist politics

Imagine that football (soccer) only had, in the whole world, players from the First and Second Leagues. That’s a bit the way it is in chess, in the large majority of the 143 concerned countries.

Most federations have, effectively, an elitist policy which neglects amateur players. Evolutionism replaces politics, and the only survivors are the best armed. The mass is not organised. There are few competitions and specific activities. Did you know, for example, that the French Federation is the only federation organising a national youth championship with more than 1,000 players.

Germany, at the head of the numerical standings, gives the tone: 8,394 players above 2000, with barely 5,388 for all the other categories put together. It is even more drastic for Russia (8,813/3,610). The importance of the Russian elite should be taken into perspective according to its population and the number of games taken into account. Compared to France, the figures are surprising: 0.0088 of the Russian population against 0.012 of the French; and 18,114 rated games against 21,349 in France. So Russian players over 2000 only play occasionally. But then what are their 1,501 titled players (GMs, IMs and FMs) doing?

The same thing can be observed in most countries, in the USA, for example, you can only find 297 players rated under 2000 among a deceptive total number of only 2227. But the leaders in this are the Chinese: just 398 FIDE rated players, barely 9% of whom are rated under 2000. This is for a population of 1,338,000,000 !

On a worldwide scale, the consequences of this elitist choice are instructive: 42,894 have a rating greater than 2000, 32,460 have a rating between 1800 and 2000, and just 19,888 players in the world have a FIDE rating under 1800! Note that France and Spain represent 17% of this category (and the top ten countries represent 67%). These two federation have, effectively, the most harmonious distribution, with 3628/6434 and 2751/5282 players respectively in the categories above and below Elo 2000.

Here is the full article on Chessbase.

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