It is official now. By 2 p.m., Indian standard time on October 29, 2013 the Elo ratings list revealed that India actually went ahead of France. India has 35,221 rated players while France is at 35,215.
India’s lead will be more clearer in the weeks and months ahead as our growth is far steeper than the modest growth of the French.
It did not happen overnight. In the 1990s, we overtook the British, USA and became the nation with the largest number of rated players in the English speaking zone.
In the last eight years the floor rating drop had also helped the Indian cause. We went ahead of Germany, the nation with the world’s best chess league.
In February 2013 India crossed Spain, the nation which supports chess through is various budgets of local city Mayors.
The support for French chess is similar to India in some ways. “Government support is there but not much. Ninety percent of the prize money in French tournaments comes from entry fee,” said O Narayanin, who is the President of Noisiel Echecs, a chess club on the eastern suburb located 20 km from Paris.
“I am not surprised this happened at all. In the last five years I see huge activity in India,” said Narayanin, who is a former Madras University Chess Team captain. Narayanin is in India for Diwali vacation and has already bought tickets for the upcoming Anand v Carlsen match.
India has moved to No.1 place in sheer numbers and will hold this spot for decades. Our hope will be to have more players in the world top 10.
Here is a look at how the standings are: India 35221, France 35215, Spain 31794, Russia 27938, Germany 27173.
India has the most rated players but we need to have more Grandmasters and International Masters, said Manuel Aaron who for decades was the first name in the alphabetical FIDE rating list.
There are plenty of tournaments in India and the domestic activity is large. Players have greater choice to play and win prize money.
Indian players are also heavily underrated. Analysing the Indian results at the Golden Sands Tournament held in June 2013 in Bulgaria will reveal that our players gained rating from the Europeans. Strangely, Europe is the most overrated region in chess!