Based on the number of views this blog received on two recent posts about Titled Players -- Their Ratings and Their Continents -- there is some real interest in the geographical distribution of chess players. At the risk of beating the subject to death, let's look at one more set of statistics based on the January 2015 FIDE rating list.
The table on the left shows a count of GMs by federation. Nothing special there and I could easily have produced the same table on any other title or combination of titles.
It's the third column that makes the table different. It shows a (rough) count of the number of federations where those GMs started their chess career. Note that it only shows federations with more than 20 GMs, of which there are exactly 20.
How is this table possible? It is based on the FIDE ID, a unique identifier attached to every player with a FIDE rating. I first discussed the code some years ago in Structure of the FIDE ID. Introduced at the end of the 1990s, it is now an integral feature of the FIDE rating system.
A good explanation of the concept behind my table can be found in FIDE ID’s – a Question (zanchess.wordpress.com).
Realizing that the FIDE ID is uniquely given to a player for their entire life allows an interesting analysis of migration patterns of chess players. That is because the FIDE ID gives the location of the player’s first chess federation, while the FIDE nationality gives the location their current federation.
My table only counts GMs by their current federation. I could have done a similar analysis counting GMs by their original federation.
For more about the use of the FIDE ID, see the FIDE Handbook, Regulations on Registration & Licensing of Players. For more from the same source about player mobility, see Registration, Transfer & Rules of Eligibility for Player.