It is a supposed cliché that the chess world is dominated by Eastern-European players. At least, the FIDE world rankings are led by a Norwegian – Magnus Carlsen – and the current World Champion has been Visvanathan Anand from India since 2007. But now it becomes obvious again that Eastern-Europe is still the stronghold of chess.
Top 40 of the FIDE world rankings in Eastern-European hands
A quick look into the current FIDE rankings confirms the obvious: 25 Eastern-Europeans place among the Top 40 chess players in the world. Some of them have emigrated and now line up for Israel (Boris Gelfand) or the Netherlands (Anish Giri). The only German among the Top 40 is Arkadij Naiditsch originating from Riga. In the women’s category a similar quota of Eastern-Europeans in the Top 40 list can be recognized.
Eastern-European players with tight hold in latest tournaments
When taking a gander at the most recent results from tournaments all around the globe, it is evident that they have all been dominated by players lining up for Eastern-European countries. For instance, the Azerbaijani Nadjat Mamedov (Elo 2618) came off winner at the Open Teplice 2012 International Chess Tournament, outperforming two locals from the Czech Republic and even a grandmaster from Latvia. The German Sebastian Plischki (Elo 2599) found himself in 5th rank – the first non-Eastern-European in the overall standings. The 6th Karen Asrian Memorial in Armenia was won by the local player Robert Hovhannisyan (Elo 2533) and the Byelorussian Andrey Gorovets (Elo 2470). At the Ilmar Raus Memorial in Estonia was obtained by another Byelorussian – Vladislav Kovalev (Elo 2651).
High significance of chess can be seen in international youth tournaments
The main reason for the strength of the Eastern-European countries in this sport is due to the importance of chess in these countries, which can hardly be found in countries of the western world. Emphasizing the magnitude of chess in the early childhood stage results in triumphs at, for example, the European School Chess Championship in Serbia and the European Youth Chess Cup in Ureki. Overall, 258 children from 10 nations competed in this event. Along with 9 Eastern-European countries, only Sweden was represented, but did not have a shot at any titles. The meaning of chess in Eastern-Europe can definitely be recognized in the outstanding performance of the juniors in international competitions.
written by Michael, translated by Birthe