Thursday, 1 October 2009


I've been doing a lot of media recently (both on the KvK match and the Solomon Islands Tournament) and as a result I've had to answer a lot of chess questions from 'non-chess' reporters. One question most commonly asked is "Who is the best chess playing country in the world?" And the answer I give, "Armenia", seems to provoke the most surprise from the questioner. Even after I qualify the answer by explaining that they have won the last 2 Olympiads, there is still a level of disbelief.
But at least one media organisation has decided to do its own homework, with the BBC sending a reporter to Armenia to investigate why that country is so strong. You can read the report here.


Anonymous said...

Country (Federation) Ranking from September 2009 FIDE Rating List
Country rank by average rating of top 10 players

1 Russia 2728
2 Ukraine 2697
3 Israel 2651
4 United States of America 2642
5 China 2641
6 Azerbaijan 2641
7 Hungary 2634
8 France 2632
9 India 2632
10 Armenia 2630

Kevin Bonham said...

The Olympiad outcomes may have more to do with champion teams beating teams of champions. They don't show that Armenia has the best players but they have shown that Armenia performs extremely well in team competition. National pride appears to be a big factor here.

If I was asked the same question I would respond with a question in turn - does the asker mean outright or on a per capita basis? According to stats I did several years ago, Iceland is way in front of the rest (excluding tax-haven micronations) when it comes to number of high rated players per head of population. But the nation with the most very strong players is clearly Russia. said...

I agree with Kevin, Armenia just doesn't seem to be a top ten chess country.

Kevin Bonham said...

Oh, top ten is probably fair enough, and supported by the ratings (barely). But top one on account of winning two Olympiads is a bit of a stretch!