Thursday 17 October 2013

Are the Norwegians best at sport?

One of the books I picked up overseas was a book called 'Soccernomics'. It is about the application of the whole 'Freakonomics' style of analysis to football, although its original title 'Why England Lose' was probably a better choice.
In the chapter 'The Curse of Poverty' the authors attempt to rank the best sporting nations in the world, based on their performance at various 'global' sports. They are fairly generous at including sports (Cricket, Rugby Union and Baseball all get in), and they also include Chess as one of the sports. There ranking criteria for Chess is the number of years the World Championship was held by a player from that country. So for Chess Russia/USSR is ranked first followed by Germany (Lasker), then France (a dubious Alekhine I assume), USA (Fischer) and Cuba (Capablanca).
Overall the USA come in at number 1, followed by Russia/USSR. But the authors then adjusted for population, and it turns out that Norway come out on top (even without Carlsen adding to their total). Sweden is second, with Australia third (they were 8th on the initial list). But it was a close run thing, with Australia finishing 0.01 points ahead of fourth placed New Zealand!

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