International Chess Federation
Friday, 28 Feb 2020 19:11
Rating analytics: True chess grinders of 2019

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 identifies the most active players of 2019, who can be called true chess grinders. 

According to data, collected by FIDE and in 2019 for the first time in history the number of classical games surpassed the 3,000,000 barrier (the sum of individual games by all the players). Last year 174,363 players played at least one game, whereas the total number of games reached 3,009,829. In 2018 this number was equal to 2 882 235 games, in 2017 – 2 785 460, in 2016 – 2 629 460. Since any chess game is played by two people we can estimate the total number of games – 1,500,000. It is a very rough estimation because only games played by rated players in classical chess are taken into account.

Consequently, on average more than 4,100 games played daily and roughly 170 games every hour. Impressive, isn’t it? And those are only games with classical time control!

The portal also identified the most active players. Let’s start with professionals. In 2018 Igor Naumkin (RUS, 2417) and Oleg Korneev (ESP, 2505) shared the top position with 233 games each, but a year later the former became the undisputable #1 with even more impressive figure of 258 games, played in 41 tournaments in 10 different European countries. Two Ukrainian players Vitaly Sivuk (2557) and Vitaliy Bernadskiy (2615) occupy second and third positions with  227 and 223 games respectively.

TOP-20 most active GMs

Nhat Minh To (2368) the most active IM from Hungary has played at least one game a month for 28 months in a row. As chess life in his home country runs high, Nhat Minh To climbed to the top position barely leaving Hungary.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            TOP-20 most active IMs

In the TOP-20 the most active juniors we see a quite repetitive picture as all the players in the list represent India. Although Spanish players are the most active overall (in all age groups), when it comes to individual statistics their Indian colleagues have the upper hand. The list includes two GMs; overall, the range of ratings and titles is very wide.

TOP-20 most active juniors

As the table below demonstrates, seniors are very active players. At least for the second time in a row, the most active senior player in the world is Subramanian T.V. from India (born in 1934!). In 2018 he played 246 games, but a year later Subramanian ramped it up to 290. Somewhat sadly, this sheer increase in the number of games did not translate into his rating improvement. In 2007 his rating was 2052 but now dropped to 1167 mark.

TOP-20 most active seniours

In 2019 Subramanian, T.V. became the absolute leader among active players in all age groups. Back 2018 the #1 in the list was IM Balasubramaniam Ramnathan (IND, 1971), who did not qualify for the top ten after playing “mere” 213 games. Interestingly enough, there are 8 GMs in the top 20 and all of them are from Europe. Maxime Lagarde (FRA, 2659) became the most active member of the top-100 Open after playing 144 games.

TOP-20 most active players (all age groups)

When analyzing the activity of female chess players with titles of WGM and higher, it is easy to notice that men are roughly twice as active. Anda Safranska (2001) who was born and gained her WGM title in Latvia, but currently represents France, tops our list of the most active female players. One particular player really stands out in this list, namely Pia Cramling (SWE, 2470) holding the second position. The experienced Swede from Women’s top-100  plays a lot but manages to maintain a high rating.

Back in 2018, the first position belonged to WGM Bhakti Kulkarni (IND) with 173 games played. Last year she was not as active though, sitting over the board only 117 times.

TOP-20 most active female players (WGM, IM, and GM)

Three things strike immediately when we run through in the list of all active female players: domination of Indian players, no GM in the top echelon, and players' age. Take a look at CM Wiktoria Smietanska (POL, 1661), for example. Last year she played 168 games, although she was not even 10 years old. Indeed, a road to the top is never easy – one should not only work hard on his or her game but also play a lot.

TOP-20 all active women

Looking at the geographic distribution, we see no surprises. The most active players live in Asia (mostly India) followed by Europe, America, and Africa. Africa has great growth potential – its TOP-20 players are rated nearly twice as low as their colleagues from Asia and Europe.

TOP-20 most active players from Asia

TOP-20 most active players from Europe

TOP-20 most active players from America

TOP-20 most active players from Africa