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  • Writer's pictureTony Paul

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

Chess is a game that has seen tremendous growth in the last decade. The number of players has increased substantially, and the number of tournaments has grown even faster. It has grown exponentially over the last two decades, with a meteoric rise of young bloods in the FIDE chess rankings top 100. Players like Pragnanandha, Alireza, Gukesh, Nihal Sarin, Abusatatov, etc., are under 20 years old, and they’re already in the top 100 of the FIDE ratings.

The FIDE Top 100 list is an interesting way to measure how much the game has grown. The FIDE ratings are a great way to track the progress of players. The top 100 players are ranked on a monthly basis, and it is interesting to see how the rankings change over time.

Two recent events gave us a nudge to scrape the FIDE rankings and see how young the FIDE top 100 list is. We wanted to conduct an analysis of how the list is and also to compare it with the FIDE rating list of 2000. The analysis was interesting, and it gave a lot of interesting insights into the dynamics of chess.

Let's take a quick look at a few interesting comparisons and then dive deeper into them.

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

Who dominated the FIDE ratings in 2000 vs. who dominates in 2022

The world of chess is dynamic, and how it is played has changed significantly over time. In 2000, Russia was the absolute monster in the FIDE top 100 list, and China followed by 6 at a distant second place. However - the Russian dominance declined in 2022, where the USA was in the first position, and Russia went to second place. An interesting thing to note is that a few Russian players are playing under the FIDE flag. If they played under the Russian flag - Russia would still be first, but the loss in dominance is absolutely visible.

Let us take a look at which countries dominate the world of chess in terms of the number of players in the top 100 and compare it with the same data in 2000.

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

Another trend to note is countries like India are gaining momentum and is in fourth place, whereas in 2000, the presence was limited to Viswanathan Anand. Young players like Gukesh, Arjun Erigaisi, Pragnanandha, Nihal Sarin, and others are penetrating the list.

  1. Insight number 1: Russian dominance is declining in the top 100, but they’re still a formidable force to reckon with.

  2. Insight Number 2: New players from emerging countries are penetrating the top 100 list, and many of them are aged under 20

Age group of people in the FIDE top 100.

Chess is a sport that has traditionally been dominated by older people. But in recent years, we’ve seen more young people break into the top 100 at an earlier age. This is a positive trend for both chess and for the younger players themselves—it means that there are more opportunities for them to develop their skills as they grow older, and it also means that the sport itself will continue to be fun and interesting for future generations.

The average age of a chess player in the top 100 in 2000 was 33.19 years; in 2020, it is reduced to 31.5. The logical inference is that more young people are coming to chess, and they’re breaking into the top 100 at a younger age.

See the age group distribution of chess players in 2000 and 2022 below.

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

In 2000, there were only three players aged 18 or less, but in 2022 there are five players aged 18 or less. A similar trend is visible in the other age groups as well.

The rating list for 2022 is dominated by young players.

Distribution of ratings from 2000 and 2022

The Incredible Growth of Chess - Chess in 2000 vs. 2022 Data Visualizations

Looking at the data - one key observation is that the barrier of entry to the FIDE top 100 list is harder. See the visualization below to get a better understanding of the observation.

  1. The least rated player in the 2000 FIDE list had a rating of 2594, but in 2022 the least rated player has a rating of 2650, a difference of 56 rating points. That is huge.

  2. The average rating of a chess player in the FIDE 2022 list is 2699, but in 2000 it was 2643, a huge difference of 56 rating points.


In conclusion, we have seen a few interesting insights about the dynamics of chess and how it changed from 2000 to 2022.

  1. The meteoric rise of young blood in the top 100 in 2022 compared to 2000 is amazing.

  2. The average rating of a player in the top 100 has increased over the years, making it more competitive to grab a spot in the top 100.

  3. The dominance of Russia diminished compared to the 2000 FIDE rankings, but they’re a formidable force to reckon with.

A game like chess is dynamic as it involves different players playing against each other every day. As such, it is important for researchers to understand how these dynamics change over time so that they can determine what kind of impact these changes have on the game itself. This data analysis aims to analyze some key factors affecting these changes and determine how they might affect future rankings by comparing them with previous ones from 2000.

We hope this analysis has been helpful and insightful for you! Do you need the data we used for this analysis? Download from here:

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1 Comment

Dec 14, 2023

Interesting insights on the evolution of chess from 2000 to 2022! It's fascinating to see how technological advancements, especially in AI, have transformed the game. This mirrors trends in game development, where technology continually reshapes how games are created and played. The parallels between chess strategies and game development techniques are intriguing, particularly in how both fields require a blend of creativity and analytical thinking to succeed


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