A few statistics from the USCF database


At the USCF website, in the Member's Section, the "Golden Database" is available for download.  This database contains the member name, USCF ID, member expiration date, member state, and rating of all current (and non current) members.

Not that anyone cares, but here are a few statistics from that database:

  • Total records in database:  835,861
  • Number of these records with established (regular) ratings:  258,165 (30.89%)
  • Number of these records with provisional ratings:  319,106 (38.189%)
  • Number of these records with no established or provisional rating:  258,590 (30.94%)
  • Number of active memberships (expiration date is 7/31/2014 or later):  79,701
  • Number of Life Members, with expiration dates of 12/31/2099: 11,928 (14.97% of active members.  This is more than I would have guessed.)
  • Number of active memberships that will expire by 7/31/2015:  57,140 (71.69%)  This inititally seems like a lot, but most members only renew for a year at a time.
  • Number of memberships that expired within the past 12 months, from 6/30/2013 thru 6/30/2014:  34,920
  • Number of memberships that expired within the past 24 months, from 6/30/2012 thru 6/30/2014:  63,010
  • Number of memberships that expired within the past 36 months, from 6/30/2011 thru 6/30/2014:  87,643
  • Number of active members with an established rating:  40,616 (50.96%)
  • Number of active members with a provisional rating: 25,362 (31.82%)

Using Excel, a lot more data and stats can be extracted and determined than this.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here's the rating distribution graph, for active members with established (regular) ratings:


Why the hell do 31% of the members have no established or provisional rating?


That number is also more than I would have guessed.  Apparently, a lot of members simply don't wish to enter tournaments at all, for one reason or another.  I do know several people who love and follow chess, but they don't wish to compete.

Note that stat includes ALL the records.  Let's check more recent data...

There are 360,574 records with memberships that are current or have expired within the last ten years... since 6/30/2004. 

Of those 360,000+ records, 114,169 of them (31.66%) played 25 or more games... enough to acquire an established, regular rating. 

166,715 of them (46.24%) played in at least one tourney and acquired a provisional rating. 

So with this data, only 22.1% of the members over the past ten years did not acquire a regular, established rating or a provisional rating.


Still seems like a lot.  How are these people signing up without playing a game?  I would've figured the vast majority of new signups were people physically at a tournament registering with USCF for the 1st time.

Can you see the ages of the players when they joined?  My next guess is scholastic players whose school registers them as part of their chess club, but they never go on to play any rated games.


No, in the Golden Database, the age of the players is not listed in the file. 

From what I've read, there is a new, experimental database, in an XML format, that supposedly contains a bit more information.  Maybe I will download this database, and see if I can figure out how to extract data from this XML format.  (Something I've never done before.)

There are some people who might sign up to become a USCF member just so they can read the monthly magazine.  Or maybe they sign up with the intention of evetually playing rated games, but then later "chicken out" for whatever reason   But I agree with you.  I would suspect this percentage to be very small... just a few percentage points, not 21 to  30%.


You also would have to consider that some people sign up only to play correspondence chess and have neither the time nor interest in playing in OTB tournaments. In those cases, you'd still have an active individual with no established regular rating.


Good point. 

Also, just to be clear, there are a very, very small percentage of players (less than 1%) that don't have a regular rating and they don't have a provisional rating, but they DO have a blitz rating listed.


Rating Distribution for all 258,165 members in the database, with established ratings:



Great insights. I suspect there are many scholastic players in the bunch. It would be interesting to know the rating distribution of active players with an established rating.


Interesting. I suspect the reason there are so many total records but less active players is simply the competitive nature of the game. People join and want to see how far they can advance. Once they plateau, or stop improving their ratings rapidly, they will lose interest and not be so active. So I'm curious what is the turnover rate, how many players drop out each year  -- fail to play in any new tournaments. 


Kids who obtained memberships and quit after just one tournament might account for many of the non-playing members. Also, could it be that some people join just to get the magazine? 



There seem to be some inconsistencies in USCF data.  I looked up the stats for a 1611 rated player.  He ranks 9457 out of 63907 active players (played in at least one tournament in the last 12 months).  The Post 1 graph shows about 15000 out of 40000 rated above 1600.  A much larger percentage.

I may be comparing apples and oranges because there are so many variables (active, inactive, total, juniors, scholastic, established, provisional, etc.)

Note:  This piqued my interest because the other graphs that I have seen have the peak at 1100 or 1200.

whiteswanblackswan wrote:

Kids who obtained memberships and quit after just one tournament might account for many of the non-playing members. Also, could it be that some people join just to get the magazine? 

That's basically how it goes. A lot of people play 2 or 3 tournaments as a kid and that's where it tends to end. The people that actually play the 20-ish games to get past the provisional rating are usually more into chess than most.


These graphs are from 2,5 years ago. Could use an update.



I did some research, and I was comparing apples to oranges.  When I look up a player's ranking, active is defined as having played in at least one tournament in the last 12 months.

The Golden database appears to define active as anyone whose USCF membership expires after the end of the year in which the data are published.  That would include many players who no longer play in tournaments.  Higher rated players are probably more likely to extend their memberships beyond their "playing days," so that would account for the distribution curve being skewed to the right.

whiteswanblackswan wrote:

Kids who obtained memberships and quit after just one tournament might account for many of the non-playing members. Also, could it be that some people join just to get the magazine? 

Pretty sure we covered this 3 years ago.


I may be missing something, but does the 31% who don't have a rating include correspondence players?  I know many players who don't like or due to physical challenges cannot play OTB, but who enjoy CC.


Perhaps a fraction of the 31% who don't have a uscf rating includes foreign players with fide ratings who are active in other countries but also wish to subscribe to Chess Life.


Also, I'm curious about something that hasn't been discussed, namely uscf membership IDs. My guess is that ID numbers likely correspond to the year the member joined. My ID number is 10425611 and I joined in 1961. Do lower numbers correspond to those who joined prior to 1961 and vice versa? Looking at the IDs of the top 100 rated seniors seems to support my hunch (they generally have low IDs). Conversely, the top 100 list of those 14 years old shows much higher numbers. 


Why do you think they use 8 digits when 6 or 7 would have been sufficient?



Keep this thread going. 


It's been five years.  Can someone with access give us an update?