Have you ever wanted to learn which country plays the most chess? Or even want to know which countries rule chess?
Chess is a game that is played on a global level and tends to be held to a very high standard.
You can find players of all different ages participating, and many different variations of Chess that are being played (they even have giant Chess these days).
While Chess may be played across the globe, and also possesses professional leagues, there are some areas where Chess is much more prevalent.
To be more specific, we'll be taking a look at the top ten countries where the game of chess is played.
We'll also be looking at exactly why these countries are the top ten, and exactly why these countries made the list. Check out the article below!
The famous game called Chess, and the countries who rule the game
Chess is not just a simple board game, but a game that requires excellent knowledge and skill to play.
Players need to be at their best, and the game requires you to outsmart your opponent. (speaking about outsmarting I've written an article on the topic if playing chess can make you smart)
You'll also need to know a little bit about the titles that you can earn from playing Chess, and the highest-ranking title you can achieve is a grandmaster.
A chess grandmaster is someone who has made the highest-ranking and has participated in at least 9 tournaments worldwide.
We'll touch on the other titles as the article goes on, but grandmaster is held to the highest regard when it comes to Chess.
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Here are some of the things we'll be looking into with each country that makes this list:
- How many chess grandmasters reside in the county
- Their countries rank on a global scale
- The number of participants that play Chess
- The skill level of chess players in the nation
- A brief history of how Chess became so popular in these countries
- Most of these ratings will be derived from global FIDE rankings, which is the organization that recognizes chess playing ability and awards various titles
We'll also determine which country plays the most Chess and if they're the best at what they do.
So if you're a big fan of Chess, or are just looking to see where your country stacks up on a global scale, look no further.
Let's dive right in, and take a look at the ten top countries where the game of chess flourishes.
If you're curious to see who made a list, before we take a more detailed look, here are the top ten countries for Chess worldwide.
If you want to know which country plays the most Chess, this is a great place to start.
- The United States of America
The most popular nation where Chess is played, by the sheer number of chess players, is Russia.
The number of active chess title holders in Russia clocked in over 2,000, and that number is no small feat.
Russia is home to plenty of world tournaments, and Russia is a nation that prides itself on expert level chess play.
So let's take a look at why Russia makes it onto this list.
You may be interested in reading the book “Secrets of the Russian Chess Masters: Beyond the Basics (Vol. 2) (Volume 2)” (Amazon link)
The number of Chess grandmasters in Russia
Russia, the number one country in the world when it comes to the number of chess grandmasters that they have, and this is a number that is generally used to rank a nation.
When it comes to the sheer number of grandmasters, Russia has a total of 255.
The reason this number is so impressive is that the amount of total grandmasters is around 1,600 worldwide.
If you want to know what that percentage is, don't worry, because we did the math for you.
Russia has about 16% of all the world's chess grandmasters, and that makes a statement.
This is definitely why Russia belongs on this list, and they deserve recognition for having some of the best chess players in the world. If you want to know which country plays the most Chess, Russia is a great place to start.
Russia's world ranking in Chess
When it comes to the global rank of the nation, in the world of Chess, it is based on the number of titles that the country has won. Russia is no stranger to winning and has managed to accumulate 2,621 titles.
That is a huge number when it comes to titleholders, and the closest nation is very far behind at 813.
While titles play into a nation's world rank, the average rating of top players is also a key indicator when it comes to a nation's chess playing capabilities.
Luckily, Russia also places first in this category with an average rating 2,743 across their top ten chess players. Pretty interesting right?
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Russian chess players here.
2. The United States of America
The United States of America is exceptional at quite a bit of sport, and Chess is no exception.
The United States has been prominent in Chess for decades and has plenty of grandmasters to help showcase the game.
The United States prides itself on many things, and chess play is one of them.
Who doesn't want to be good at a strategy game right? So let's dive right in, and see how the United States stacks up when it comes to Chess.
When looking at which country plays the most Chess, you'll notice that it can be quite tricky to determine.
You may be interested in reading the book “Fred Reinfeld: The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games” (Amazon link)
The number of Chess grandmasters in United States of America
The United States is another nation that has a massive percentage of chess grandmasters. In the United States, you'll find about 101 grandmasters.
This is still a considerable number and shows that the United States is more dangerous when it comes to playing Chess.
On a global scale, the United States places second regarding grandmasters.
Don't worry, we did the math again, and found that the United States has about 6% of all the world's chess grandmasters. This is an impressive feat.
The United States world ranking in Chess
When it comes to the United States global ranking, they come in second place, and not a very close second in most categories.
While the United States has a rating of 2,714 across their top ten players, the United States has about 150 fewer grandmasters than Russia.
That is a considerable gap, but they still hold second place in that category. The United States also falls second when it comes to the number of titles, and ranks in at 813.
This is literally over one thousand fewer titles than that of Russia.
So while the United States comes in a close second when you look at the average rating, the game is not that close.
While the United States might not have the most titles or grandmasters, the players are exceptional, and they deserve the number 2 rank.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of American chess players here.
China makes this list for a couple of reasons, but the most important one is that China is home to billions of people.
Not millions, like most other countries on this list, but billions.
This is important because based on the sheer amount of people, a decent portion have to have taken an interest in Chess, right?
Plus, how could you have a list about which country plays the most Chess without China? So let's dive right in, and break down exactly why China makes this ultimate chess playing list.
You may be interested in reading the book “Chinese Chess: An Introduction to China's Ancient Game of Strategy ” (Amazon link)
The number of Chess grandmasters in China
China is a nation that is not shy to grandmasters, and believe it or not, and China has about 48 grandmasters.
In comparison to some other countries on this list, that number is relatively low. When you take a look at the percentage of grandmasters that China has, on a global scale, that number comes in at roughly 3%.
This number may not be too impressive, but it deserves mention. As more of the population begins to focus on Chess, you'll likely see that grandmaster number start to rise slowly.
China's world ranking in Chess
The reason China ranks so high on a global scale is that China has an average talent rating of 2,708.
This number comes in at a close third to the United States, but it is an impressive feat nonetheless. Another area where China thrives is the number of titles that they hold.
China has 176 titled players, which is quite a bit when it comes to Chess. So while China may not have the high number of titles or grandmasters that the United States and Russia have, they come close when it comes to their top ten skilled players.
This is precisely how China earned the number 3 spot, but unfortunately for China, India is very close behind.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Chinese chess players here.
India also makes this list for a few reasons, but just like China, India is home to billions of people.
The sheer population size makes it easy for the people of India to play Chess on a global scale because they have a higher chance of people being interested in the game.
When determining which country plays the most Chess, you'll need to consider India. Let's take a look at what makes India unique when it comes to the game of Chess.
There is an important history of chess that involves India and I've written an article about that here.
Check out our article about “important history of chess“.
The number of grandmasters in India
India is up and coming in the chess world, and this can be easily attributed to their rising number of grandmasters.
The number of grandmasters that India has totalled up to 62 and that number has recently surpassed that of China.
That number of grandmasters pales in comparison to the United States or Russia, but India still holds a nice chunk of the global percentage.
India's grandmaster percentage comes in at about 3%, just like China. In the coming years, that number is expected to grow as chess gains ground in the Indian culture.
India's world ranking in Chess
India comes in at number 4 when you look at their global rank.
While they may have more grandmasters than that of China, the average level of skill across their top ten players is a bit lower.
That number is an impressive 2,669, but it falls a bit short behind China and the rest.
When you look at the number of titles that India has, this is one area where they have been excelling.
In India, you'll find 392 titleholders, which shows you that India may be surpassing China the next time you see this list.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Indian chess players here.
Ukraine is one nation on this list that might shock you, but believe it or not, Ukraine takes the game of Chess very seriously.
You can trace this interest back to the Cold War because Russia had an enormous influence over Ukraine during this period.
Excuse the brief history lesson, but it is essential to know where Ukraine received its inspiration.
So let's take a look at why Ukraine is held to a high standard of chess-playing, and why they need to be considered when looking at which country plays the most Chess.
You may find this unique chess set very interesting (Amazon link)
The number of grandmasters in Ukraine
While Ukraine might be a small country, they're a nation that has a lot of bark in the chess world.
Ukraine has more grandmasters than China and India and comes in just shy of 100 at 93 grandmasters.
When you look at the global percentage, Ukraine boasts a healthy 5% of all grandmasters.
This number is higher than that of India and China, but there is a reason why they place at 5th concerning global ranking.
Ukraine's world ranking in Chess
Ukraine comes in at 5th because their average skill level across their top ten players tends to be a little bit lower.
Their number lands at 2,661, which is not a small number. It is just not high enough to compete with some of the top dogs that are higher up on this list.
Another area where Ukraine does shine, though, is in the number of titled players.
Ukraine holds an impressive amount of established players, and in the country, you'll find 581 titleholders.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Ukrainian chess players here.
Armenia makes this list with ease, and that's because they have a large number of chess players.
Chess is a typical game in Armenia, and you can find people of all ages embarking on the journey of Chess.
Armenia has had plenty of titles and continues to evolve the way the game of Chess is played.
So let's dive right in, and take a look at exactly why Armenia is exceptional when it comes to the set of Chess.
The number of Chess grandmasters in Armenia
Armenia will shock you with their amount of grandmasters because Armenia has a total of 44 chess grandmasters.
Compared to some other nations, that number is right up there with the best.
When you look at their global percentage, you'll notice that Armenia holds about another 3% of the world's chess grandmasters.
This is definitely why Armenia deserves to be on this list and should be considered when trying to determine which country plays the most Chess.
Armenia's world ranking in Chess
Armenia's numbers across the board are also pretty strong, and believe it or not, Armenia has 131 titled players.
For the smaller population size, that number is something to be proud of.
When it comes to their global ranking, Armenia ranks in at number 6, which is right behind some of the most significant Chess playing countries in the world.
Armenia can hold their weight in the chess world, and their numbers are projected to keep growing.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Armenian chess players here.
While this may be a country you're not all too familiar with, Azerbaijan belongs on this list.
This country is a lot less known in the chess world and tends to have lower numbers across the board.
While Azerbaijan may not have the most grandmasters or titles, they have the skills to play with the best.
So let's dive right in, and take a look at where Azerbaijan ranks when looking at which country plays the most Chess.
The number of grandmasters in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has the lowest amount of chess grandmasters on this list and is one of the reasons they're not as strong as some of the higher-ranked Chess-playing nations.
Azerbaijan is home to only 25 grandmasters, which means that on a worldwide level, Azerbaijan only accounts for roughly 1% of the world's chess grandmasters.
Their number may not be that large, but they're up and coming.
Azerbaijan's world ranking in Chess
Azerbaijan has some of the lowest numbers across the board but can keep up with the rest of the world.
The average skill level ranks in at 2,648, and Azerbaijan is home to 157 titleholders.
So while Azerbaijan might not have the large number of grandmasters that other countries have, they have the skill to keep up.
Azerbaijan ranks in at number 7 in the world when it comes to overall chess capabilities. Pretty impressive right?
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Azerbaijani chess players here.
Hungary is another nation that might shock you on this list, but believe it or not, and they have quite a bit of prominent chess players.
You'll find plenty of grandmasters, champions, and hobbyists playing the game of Chess in Hungary.
So let's take a look at why Hungary deserves to be on this list, and why they should be considered when establishing which country plays the most Chess.
You may be interested in reading the book “Budapest 1896: The first great chess tournament in Hungary” (Amazon link)
The number of grandmasters in Hungary
Hungary may not be as well known in Chess as some of the other nations, but that doesn't mean they lack in the grandmaster department.
Believe it or not, Hungary has 57 grandmasters. This grandmaster total falls right between India and China and provides Hungary with 3% of the world's chess grandmasters.
Hungary is a country that can throw its weight around in the chess world.
Hungary's world ranking in Chess
While Hungary might be home to plenty of world-class chess grandmasters, there is one area that it doesn't compete as well in.
When you look at the average across their top ten players, their magic number comes in at 2,646 despite being home to 494 titled chess players.
While they certainly have a big chunk of the world's grandmasters and have the titles to back it up, the skill level is not quite there yet.
This is the reason that Hungary lands at number 8 on the global scale. Hungary can play some chess, so don't let this number fool you, because the competition at this level is quite close.
Hungary only ranks in at number 8 due to being off by a few numbers when compared to the rest of the competition.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Hungarian chess players here.
Poland tends to be a relatively quiet nation, and you generally don't hear too much about the Polish people.
The one thing you'll want to hear about, though, is their chess-playing ability. Poland has a large amount of chess world titleholders and has plenty of grandmasters throughout its history.
Let's dive right in, and take a look at exactly what makes Poland standout when it comes to the game of Chess.
You may be interested in reading chess strategies that can improve your game.
The number of grandmasters in Poland
Poland may not be as big as some of these other nations, which is a reason why their grandmaster number is a bit lower than some of the competition.
This does not mean that Poland lacks when it comes to grandmasters, and you might be surprised when you hear that Poland has 45 chess grandmasters.
That number is up there with plenty of other larger nations, so Poland doesn't make any excuse when it comes to the game of Chess.
Due to having 45 grandmasters, Poland also has roughly 3% of the world's chess grandmasters. Pretty impressive for a smaller country, right?
Poland's world ranking in Chess
When you look at Poland's world ranking, despite having 3% of the world's grandmasters, they only rank in at number 9.
This is because their skill number comes in at 2,644. While this number is not wrong, it is a tad bit lower than some of the competition.
So how does Poland make up for this? Poland makes up for this with their number of title holding players. Poland, believe it or not, actually has 440 titleholders.
That is a pretty good number for a smaller country. So while Poland may not be the most significant and baddest Chess-playing country, they have some bragging rights.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of Polish chess players here.
The French may be better known for their exquisite cuisine, but believe it or not, France is one of the top nations in the world when it comes to Chess.
To put it, Chess has taken very seriously in France, and it should be no shock that the French take this game very seriously.
So let's dive right in, and see why the French boast a robust set of Chess. It is no surprise that France should be considered when looking at which country plays the most Chess.
You may be interested in reading the book “My Best Games of Chess, 1908 – 1937” (Amazon link)
The number of grandmasters in France
France has an impressive amount of grandmasters, and you'll find that France is home to 50 total chess grandmasters.
When you look at this on a global scale, you'll also find that France is home to about 3% of all chess grandmasters. Not too bad for the French right?
France's world ranking in Chess
Also check out our article about “What happens when you don't say check?“
When it comes to France's world ranking, they happen to fall a bit short in some other areas of Chess.
French comes in at the number 10 spot on this list, and this is because their average skill level of 2,636 is a bit lower than some of the other top nations.
While the overall level of skill might be a bit smaller, you'll find that France has quite a bit of titleholder. France, believe it or not, is home to 457 titleholders.
So while France may place at number 10, they're no slouch when it comes to Chess.
Further reading: Wikipedia has published list of French chess players here.
There you have it! this was a fun and interesting article…
I do hope you were able to get some good insights about chess and different countries that can be considered as chess rulers… 🙂
So which country plays the most Chess?
When looking at this question, there is only one clear winner. While many countries tend to be pretty good at Chess and hold plenty of world titles, Russia has the world beat.
The number of people they have playing Chess is enormous, yes, but they also have about 16% of the world's grandmasters.
That is no easy feat and deserves some respect. Nations, like the United States, China, and India, are close behind but don't have the sheer numbers required to be the best.
Russia holds first place in all of the significant chess categories established by the FIDE and based on some of the numbers, and you can see why Russia is the nation that plays the most Chess. They are the best at it, hold the most titles, and have the most grandmasters by a rather wide margin.
The other nations of the world have a lot of catching up to do, but for now, Russia is the top dog in all things Chess related. When you have over 2,000 titles, you've earned some global bragging rights.
If you are new and ready to start playing chess, you may find ChessDelights chess recommendations handy to you.
Gary FloresGary is a chess enthusiast and has three children who also enjoy learning the game. He is a co-author of the "Chess Fundamentals" digital interactive book a ChessDelights Edition. He founded ChessDelights.com in order to brush up on his understanding of this tactic and strategy game. He also enjoys encouraging those who are learning, re-learning, or instructing their children in the game of chess.
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