31 January 2013

Countries with World Top-100 Players

It's been a few years since I looked at FIDE rating lists. When I went back to the last post, Players Missing from FIDE Ratings (January 2011), I remembered why. The lists are crippled. Entire countries are missing, apparently because their federations haven't paid their dues.

Mark Crowther, in THE WEEK IN CHESS 948 (7 January 2013), also complained about this.

I use the full rating list for working on tournaments and games and noticed that for [Schachfestival Basel 2013] players outside the top 100 from Hungary (now back in as of 3rd Jan) and Montenegro don't have ratings, presumably their Federations have fallen behind in payments. This and the complete removal of players from the list (eg 20 English players who aren't ECF members, Cubans who have left Cuba those are just the ones I know about) is not terribly convenient if you actually want to use the list for real work.

FIDE earns massive fees from its rating service. A look at the number of players from the 1 January list for each of the past four years shows tremendous growth.

  • 2010: 109556
  • 2011: 114806
  • 2012: 135537
  • 2013: 151322

These numbers don't tell the full story; the last time Argentina, for example, appeared on the list was in 2009, with over 1400 players. It's beyond me why the organization would want to cripple this sort of cash cow, but FIDE often takes mercurial action that makes no sense. Remember when Kasparov and Short were removed from the list after organizing their 1993 PCA World Championship match? Shooting itself in the foot is a long FIDE tradition.

Not having a valid rating list to work with, I decided to look at the January list of top-100 players instead. The chart on the left shows the number of players from each country having at least two players on the list. Not surprisingly, Russia (RUS) leads with 24 players out of the 102 names on the list (three players are tied at no.100 with ratings of 2650).

The 17 countries listed here plus the 14 countries with a single player (Norway included, but what a player!) mean that nearly 20% of FIDE national federations are represented. The Ukraine at no.2 isn't too much of a surprise, but France at no.3? China at no.4? These aren't the results I expected to see.

I would like to take a closer look at the players from the countries that lead the list, so I'll come back to it in a future post. I'll also come back to the full January 2013 list. There are a few changes from a year ago that are worth noting.

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