15 January 2009

Useless Stats/Qs about Ratings

Most people, when they see the new rating lists like the January 2009 FIDE rating list, go immediately for the lists of top players, and you can find the 2009 lists copied on many sites and blogs across the web. I'm a little different in that I like to load the new rating data into a database, do various queries, and discover all sorts of useless statistics which lead to even more useless questions.

For example, a useless statistic is in the following table, which shows that the number of chess players on the FIDE list increased by 11657 from January 2008 to January 2009, a 13.3% increase.

2008: 87562
2009: 99219

The useless question is how many of the players were considered active by FIDE at the time of the list? The answer is in the following table, which shows that the number of active players, as flagged by FIDE, declined by 8122, a 12.3% decrease.

2008: 66006
2009: 57884

A cornucopia of useless statistics is in the following table, which shows the number of titled players at the start of 2008 and 2009.

After the obvious questions -- what's a 'c' title? an 'h' title? -- less obvious is how is it possible that FIDE minted more GMs ('g' in the table) than IMs ('m') in 2008? Or what is the highest/lowest current rating for each of the different titles?

I can't answer the question about more GMs (maybe lots of players received IM and GM in the same year?), but I can answer the highest/lowest question, which is shown in the following table of 2009 players, including those who are inactive.

GM: 2812 - 2216
IM:  2586 - 2007
FM: 2646 - 1724

There are so many other useless stats and questions, like those based on players' federations and/or ages, that I had better stop here or there will be no end to this post.


Note: Listed under 'Chess Culture and Politics' on 2010 Chess Blog Carnival [2010/02]. I originally submitted it for Next Chess Blog Carnival 2/15/09, which never appeared. After I ignored the call for 2010 Chess Blog Carnival [2010/01], it was used there instead.


Later: Long after writing the note above, I discovered that the post had been used in Chess Carnival - February 15, 2009 Edition, which I mention here for completeness.


James Stripes said...


I saw that you've started following my Chess Skills blog, so I stopped in to say hello. If you look back through the archives, among things you might notice is how useful I found your World Chess Championship Index during Bonn 2008--I posted daily, and did some research pieces on the rest days.

Daniel said...

Hi Mark,

Dunno if you're still interested in what "c" or "h" is, but I figured it out.

"c" is Candidate Master, which is a title below FIDE Master. It seems to mostly be rewarded at various continental and world youth tournaments, and it never really caught on elsewhere. It is in the FIDE Handbook, though, and apparently can be rewarded to anyone who has a rating over 2200 and applies for it.

"h" is Honorary Grandmaster. FIDE stopped giving those away about ten years ago, but it has some notable recipients--Golombek was one and I think Dake was another. Apparently it was intended for old-timers who had a strong peak strength but didn't get the GM title for whatever reason. Not too many were given out, and most of the recipients have died, hence the very small number of "h" and "wh" titles in the list. It looks like Corry Vreeken might be the last one alive.

Daniel said...

Hi Mark,

I don't know if you're still interested in this, but "c" is for Candidate Master and "h" is for Honorary Grandmaster.

CM's seem to mostly be top finishers in continental and world youth tournaments. The FIDE Handbook says anyone with a rating over 2200 is eligible, but it never really caught on.

HGM's were various old-timers who never got the regular GM title, apparently mostly players whose peaks came in the 1930s-1950s. Golombek was one, and I think Dake was another. FIDE doesn't award these anymore, so most of them have passed away.

Mark Weeks said...

Thanks, Daniel - In fact I worked out the meaning of the titles a couple of years ago, but never got around to posting. According to my notes, the 'h' title holder was Rudolf Teschner. Wikipedia says he died in 2006 at age 84, so the 2009 FIDE list was out of date. - Mark