Where the US Stacks Up in Chess Expertise Internationally
After we saw how chess expertise was distributed in the US, let's take a look at how things stack up internationally (the numbers include all players over the 2200 FIDE rating, including IMs and GMs).
Rank Country Pop (mil.) #Masters #/Mill.Pop.
|10||B & H||3.8||132||35|
Note: couldn't help but include the non-existent Yugoslavia, the former World #2, having consisted of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, and Montenegro.
Again, these numbers shouldn't be taken too strictly. The number of Masters in a country depends on many factors:
- the general cultural background,
- popularity of the game (for example, in China, the Chinese chess is much more popular than its Western counterpart),
- the efforts that a country is making toward promoting chess (remember how, after the WWI, the USSR made massive steps toward popularizing chess through a large structure of chess schools/academies, Pioneers Palaces, etc. whereby the game became an integral part of the culture and ideological weapon, all in service of propaganda to show superiority of Soviets),
- profusion of other kinds of entertainment (video games, etc.),
- climate (yes climate, "hey comrade, what are we going to do during long Siberian winter nights?" also playing in Sahara with your brain melting wouldn't be such a pleasant thing), and so on.
The point of why I'm presenting these stats is to bring awareness of where we stand regarding chess expertise and how that may help us possibly improve the experts numbers in a community or society.
You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned teaching in the above list. I have learned chess in my old country of Montenegro (#2 in the Table, with 113 experts per mil. population), by the same ("fundamentally wrong," Nimzovich 1929) teaching method with "the moves first," as is in place in the US (#31, with 3 experts), or anywhere else in the World, for that matter.
These fun stats should be considered just as an attachment to the mission of setting out the fundamentals of a new, modern approach to teaching chess, as is being shown in my Principia Scacchorum posts on chess.com, of which three have been published so far.
Chess experts set apart by their quantity and quality of mental representations (that is patterns of functional piece relationships) from the rest of mankind. Purposuful practice, of which deliberate practice is the "gold standard" and ultimate goal (see work of Anders Ericsson, the World's leading expert on expertise), should prove superior to the usual, "naive" approach of practicing and repeating same things, same "methods" and same mistakes, which in the end has produced 3 experts per million population in the US.
It does sound a little bit too low, doesn't it? It is shame that there has been no much awareness, or interest to change this situation here in the US. This prevents millions from learning the game beyond "the moves" where a larger number of strong players would inevitably bring quality and many more chess experts.
Although our early chess teaching is broken (as is the elementary education across domains - think math), the US has the best universities in the World and knowledge and resources to do a little better than 3 experts...
Tags: chess expertise, chess education, chess basics, deliberate practice