International Chess Federation
Tuesday, 24 Dec 2019 01:26
Rating analytics: The number of rated chess players goes up

Kaspars Migla is the creator and founder of In his column, he analyzes monthly FIDE standard rating changes, career-high ratings, rating distribution by country, continent, region, and other rating-related statistics. In this edition, he looks at the absolute numbers of rated players and the percentage of active players in different countries.

According to the FIDE December data, integrated by, the number of players with a standard rating has surpassed the 350,000 mark (352,234 people to be exact). The number of active (those who have participated in tournaments over the last 12 months) and inactive players is roughly equal.

Over the month’s time, the number of chess players increased by 2546, whereas within a year we have almost 30,000 new players (29 517). If this trend continues, then by 2024 there will be over a half-million chess players with standard FIDE rating. We will definitely inform you when it happens. Stay tuned!

Total number of new players over 12 months

The number of people having FIDE standard rating has grown in almost all countries. This process seems irreversible, provided that there are no radical rules and rating calculation changes. It is enough to say, that the last year Russia was the only country with more than 30,000 rated players, but not anymore. As of December 1, there are 34,811 active players in Russia, whereas in India - 32 494. Given that in the second most populated country in the world the number of players increases faster, eventually, we might see the rise of a new leader.  

The top 5 countries - Russia and India mentioned above plus Germany (26 549), Spain (24 784) and France (23 414) - are head and shoulders above the others. Since other countries have far fewer rated players, we can’t expect real changes in the leading quintet.

Total number of chess players

Currently, there are 172 848 active and 179 386 inactive players with standard FIDE rating. Last year those figures were 166 862 and 155 855 respectively. It is worth mentioning that this year inactive players outnumbered active players.

Comparing to the last month, the list of countries with the greatest number of active players remained the same but there have been some changes inside the upper echelon. Spain tops the list with 15 461  active players, followed by France (13 716) and Germany (11 989). The leaders by the overall number of players India (11 682) and Russia (11 164) round out the top 5. This data suggests that the geographic chess center on our planet is located in Western Europe.     

A closer look at the active players pivot table provides us insight into some things that were hard to imagine before. For example, in the list of Top Federations, the USA is second, but when it comes to active players this country brings up the rear of the top 20, trailing Swede (2741), Denmark (2779) and Serbia (2849).  Subsequently, in terms of large-scale involvement, chess in the USA has great potential. The same applies to China, which is third in the list of top federations. Surprisingly, the most populated country in the world can boast of only 658 active players, which corresponds to 46th position in the list.

Total number of active players

In terms of percentage of active players among the countries with over 5,000 players, the top positions are occupied by Czech Republic (68,6%), Spain (62,4%) and France (58,6%), whereas Brazil (37,6%), India (36%) and Russia (32,1%) round out the list.

One can see that the total number of players inversely proportional to the percentage of active players. The opposite is also true: the fewer players the bigger this percentage. In some countries, such as Oman (89.1%), Faroe Islands  (80.1%), Kosovo ( 77.6%), Slovakia (74,6%) those figures are really impressive.

Kaspars Migla,