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FIDE Statistics Suggest That Chess Is On The Rise

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 12.02.14 02:09.

Recently published statistics suggest that chess is growing - FIDE regulated chess, that is. During the last five years the number of active players with a FIDE rating has been almost doubled. In the same period there was an increase of 37% of open tournaments organized world wide. In 2013 almost one million FIDE rated games were played worldwide.

Last week the FIDE Development Commission published a report with data that give an idea about FIDE's performance. In his introduction Martin Huba, the President of Slovakian Chess Federation, writes:

“The objective of having several performance indicators is to give to the chess community a message covering the situation and trends and to motivate individual federations to think about the situation and to provoke a healthy competition at the same time.”

The commission used six indicators:

  1. number of active players with a FIDE rating;
  2. number of open tournaments;
  3. number of round robin tournaments;
  4. number of games;
  5. number of games played by foreigners in the country (chess export);
  6. number of games of the country players played abroad (chess import).

1. Number of active players with a FIDE rating

As can be seen from the first diagram, during the last five years the number of active players with a FIDE rating has been almost doubled. Whereas the report speaks of a “very clear and positive” trend, it's unclear whether we can really speak of an increase of (serious) chess players. Whereas there used to be a rating threshold of 2000 in the old days, currently (per 1 July 2012) the rating floor is 1000. It does mean that more and more chess players are playing in FIDE regulated events.

The statistics in the report are based on data of 164 national federations. Below you can find the top 20 of largest chess federations:

According to the report, these top 20 federations have around 74% of all active FIDE rated players in the world.

2. Number of open tournaments

Also in the number of open tournaments there is a clear upward trend. In the monitored period there was a 37% increase in number of open tournaments organized. Below you can see where most of these events were held.

These are the top 20 federations as it comes down to organizing open tournaments. Together they organised 71.45% of all open tournaments in the world. These figures seem to suggest that e.g. one-day rapid events are also considered “open tournaments” (because otherwise e.g. Netherlands would never reach 200 in 2013).

3. Number of round robin tournaments

The number of round robin tournaments (mostly IM/GM events, but super tournaments should be in this category too) actually went down in 2013. Such tournamements tend to depend more on sponsorship instead of entry fees, and as the report suggests, the financial crisis might have played a role here. 

The top 20 federations organised 71.43% of all round robin tournaments. Denmark surprisingly tops the above chart; no less than 187 closed events were held by the Danes in the past year!

4. Number of games

The Development Commission calculated that almost one million FIDE rated games were played worldwide in 2013. This comes down to an average of 2737 games a day! Imagine Mark Crowther would have to publish all of them...

Especially notable is the rise of India in the above chart. In the last four years the number of rated games has more than doubled, from 86,652 in 2010 to 182,640 in 2013.

5. Number of games played by foreigners in the country (chess export)

The last two indicators are about “chess export” and “chess import”. The above chart is about “chess export”, meaning the number of games played by foreigners. According to the report, of all FIDE rated games, 25% on average is played by foreign players.

As is mentioned in the report, the trend here is not so important. More interesting is the comparison of countries, to find out which locations are the most popular for chess travelers. 

The report writes that “France and Germany are leaders of this group. The Czech Republic ranks the third and proves that belongs to the world ́s top chess exporters.” However, this statement is based on the total number of games played by foreigners. 

What is not mentioned is that Czech Republic is the “winner” as it comes down to the relative number of FIDE rated games played by foreigners: 19.7%. Greece, Germany and Poland follow with 13.6%, 11.3% and 10.8%. French is fifth, with 9.6% of the rated games played by foreigners.

6. Number of games of the country players played abroad (chess import)

The last part of the report might seem somewhat confusing. After discussing “games played by foreigners”, there are separate charts for “games played abroad”. 

What is clear is that France had the most games played by foreigners, while the Germans have travelled abroad the most. (For an even more accurate picture, these numbers should be divided by the total number of FIDE rated players in the individual countries.) The Netherlands is on the 20th spot as it comes down to attracting foreign chess players to their tournaments, while they are the number 4 chess travellers!

As Martin Huba writes at the end of the report, it would be interesting to analyse the “chess trade balance”: whether a country attracts more foreign players to its tournaments (chess export) or whether its players travel to play abroad more (chess import). Huba gives his own federation as an example:

“Slovakia for example has a negative chess trade balance totalling -1210 games. It means Slovak players played abroad by 1210 games more than foreigners in Slovakia in 2013. To make the balance equal there would be a need to organise few open tournaments more in Slovakia and probably there would be a market for such a step.”

All data courtesy of Martin Huba/FIDE

9188 Aufrufe 26 Kommentare
6 Stimmen


  • vor 13 Monate


    Further to the comments on figures I can add that Italy has about 15.500 national rated players plus about 5.700 FIDE rated players (active and inactive).

    Ireland has more like 1.000 active players and only 800 FIDE players (incuding inactive).

  • vor 13 Monate


    Chess is kind of game easy to try but uncertain in a way that you can't guarantee to win being so good as you may be taking up against big minds out there.But aside from this constraint, popularity is peaking, it's true.

  • vor 13 Monate



    how about africa????????????????????????????????????/


    Probably lask of stats. How popular is chess in Zimbabwe and Africa generally? Is chess taught in many schools?

  • vor 14 Monate


    In fact, from looking through all the tournaments played in Ireland as per the FIDE website in 2013, which includes blitz and rapid, the toal games played was certainly less than 5000, nowhere near 30000

  • vor 14 Monate


    This can't be right, there's no way that there's only 120 active fide rated members in USA than in Ireland, also there are very few FIDE rated tournaments in Ireland, find it very hard to believe that there were 30000 FIDE rated games played here last year.

  • vor 14 Monate


    3 comment

    I wonder, does that mean there's something rotten in the state of Denmark ?

    (Sorry just had to:)

  • vor 14 Monate


    FIDE and its current leadership are nothing but a joke. There's so much corruption there it's not even funny.

    FIDE = JOKE !!

  • vor 14 Monate


    It's good to know the popularity of chess is on the rise and it is quite likely that the numbers are increasing with the help of internet play, IT and free broadcast of tournament games which is a wonderful thing. But there is a severe problem in top level administration in chess which and there is a structure that largely depends on the FIDE president's image and the world champion's image which as a major source to woo sponsors (it's good to have that as a bonus but that shouldn't be the only thing). Sponsors need to come for the image of chess and that's a slow process. There needs to be more funding in FIDE's budget to market the game and for more centralization of the game (which will in turn benefit a lot of grandmasters and not just top 10). I believe currently Fide's measures are really poor in terms of marketing the game. The only thing FIDE has done reasonably well is to keep the world championship tradition alive and have a million dollar match once in every 2-3 years. For anyone interested, I recommend watching this interview by Nigel Short. 


  • vor 14 Monate


    You can't conclude on these numbers that chess is on the rise.

    According to this article the number of fide-rated players in Denmark is on the rise, but that doesn't imply that the number of organized players is. On the contrary - the number of members of the danish chess federation from 2009 to 2012 is declining.

    2009: 864 fide rated members out of 4719 members

    2010: 1155 fide rated members out of 4584 members

    2011: 1284 fide rated members out of 4473 members

    2012: 1438 fide rated members out of 4384 members

    Chess is not growing in Denmark.

  • vor 14 Monate


    how about africa????????????????????????????????????/

  • vor 14 Monate


    Ok maybe the growth is proven with the rise of the number of games. But the first figure, Number of active players with a FIDE rating,
    doesn't say aynthing. Previously there was an ELO limit at 2000, then 1800, player which had a lower strength didn't have an ELO rating. Since those limits are now gone, it's natural, that the amount of players with a FIDE rating is rising. For a fair comparison they'd have to compare players with rating above 2000 only.

  • vor 14 Monate



  • vor 14 Monate


    Regardless, Ilyumzhinov must go!

  • vor 14 Monate


    It would be interesting to compare the # of FIDE players with the member count in various chess federations. Fide is only the tip of the iceberg, for sure.

  • vor 14 Monate


    Even if the number of serious chess players isn't rising, the number of casual players is. I think this number is far more important.

  • vor 14 Monate


    Very interesting, great analysis.

  • vor 14 Monate


    How can we conclude this is right, there could just be more individuals with FIDE ratings because the world population is growing. We should be comparing the ratio of chess players to total population over this time period. It seems like these values are only for the total number of players.

  • vor 14 Monate


    Great news! +1      Important for us!

  • vor 14 Monate


    Great presentation. Thanks!

  • vor 14 Monate


    Good news and nicely-put-together article.  Thanks.

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