54 ( +1 | -1 ) Because chess was (and still is) a household game in USSR. Just like American kids play video games all day long (too bad there is no World Championship in Sega ...), Russian kids play chess.
Almost every single person in Russia above age 6-8 knows how to play chess. That's why they have so many strong players - when the base is so wide, it's easy to build a huge pyramid.
In other countries, the players' base is just not as wide, so the pyramid is smaller (with less GMs on top)
41 ( +1 | -1 ) Wellthe answer is not complete. They have so many GM's because they have so many population too! Actually Russia is at the 24th place in the world if ranked by inhabitants per GM. It's beaten by many eastern countries, and many nordic too.
Full stats in my beautiful table at e4e6.com submenu Stuff option FIDE stats.
56 ( +1 | -1 ) zdrakThe base in Russia is wide and the pyramid is huge. If you go back 50, 60, 70 years---pre video games, pre televison, pre everything---chess, even then was not very popular in this country. Why? Why did certain countries embrace chess and other countries did not? In England, only a few decades back, someone put up a hugh cash prize for the person who became England's first grandmaster. Tony Miles won rthe prize. Why the long dry spell in England? I think you would be hard pressed to name a world class player from Italy in the last 100 years,
35 ( +1 | -1 ) Italy?Why this example? :( Anyway we had our first GM Sergio Mariotti being in the 70's one of the best western Europe players, making it into the Interzonal too. Not the world top 10 of course. But surely he could be named a world class player. Apart from him, I must admit that Italy hasn't produced great players after 1800.
129 ( +1 | -1 ) The Soviet Union first embraces chess because of Lenin. He was a big fan of the game, and what's good for the Leader must be good for the masses.
Also, one of the first Soviet Ministers of Culture, Krylenko, was an avid chessplayer and had good connections within the Kremlin.
It is, in my opinion, ironic, that Russia produced its biggest chess talent (Alekhine) long before the Lenin/Krilenko pair turned chess into a "national sport"
And a comment to brunetti, who wrote: "Actually Russia is at the 24th place in the world if ranked by inhabitants per GM"
The statistic might be true, however there are far more players in Russia (and formerly, in Soviet Union) who DESERVE to be GMs than those who actually ARE GMs. This is because the amount of strong players is so great that it was impossible to let all of them compete in international tournaments, since they'd dominate them entirely.
In the Soviet era, dozens of GM-strength players never got a chance to compete in international tournaments and earn GM norms.
This tendency (although not as acute) is still continuing even in the post-Soviet era. For example, Alexander Khalifman (former FIDE world champ) didn't get the GM title until he was rated 2620 - while the average western player gets the same title at a 2500-2550 rating.
15 ( +1 | -1 ) GMs/Inhabitans ratio for RussiaAlex, I think if you would count GMs all over the world who was born in Russia, but now play for another countries, you will get slightly different ratio:)
6 ( +1 | -1 ) Yesbut I haven't the time to check all the 700 GMs birthplaces! Maybe one day... :)
39 ( +1 | -1 ) 701 now !!Sergey Karjakin, the twelve year old kid from the Ukraine has just become the world's youngest ever Grandmaster. He first came to my notice when Ruslan Ponomariov asked him to become his trainer for the World Championships, which Ruslan subsequently won on the back of some first rate analysis and preparation from the (then 11 year old) Sergey Karjakin.
58 ( +1 | -1 ) RussiansThomas jefferson (for one), an early leader of this country, was an avid chess player---didn't seem to affect the masses here. Also Ben Franklin, who had very good connections with our government, pushed chess at every opportunity and didn't have much luck. Sorry I mentioned Italy---didn't realize it was off-limits in our discussion. But Mariotti? Come on get real! Poland (approx. half the population of Italy) is teeming with GMs past and present. Why this disparity. Inquiring minds want to know the answers to these perplexing questions.
147 ( +1 | -1 ) BecasueEastern Europe countries, and communist countries like Cuba (but not China), put a great effort in developement of chess, from the beginning of the 20th century. So you have Hungary stronger than most western Europe countries, for example, at least until 1990. Only in the last quarter of the last century western countries put a little interest in chess, and Italy had/has one of the less interested/active federations, so there were no great developement. Even if we have some talented juniors, no one helps them to develop, no trainings with grandmasters; so they can't develop. Look at England, again an example of yours. When Miles became GM, England and Italy were comparable, more or less. But in 20 years England produced a bunch of grandmasters, because they made a strong work.
Back to the Russia analysis: zdrak says that more players deserved the title and so on; well, if you check the table you'll find that ranking countries by population per rated player - a measure of the pyramid base - Russia falls down to 45th place. The same place if you rank'em by rating points per inhabitant (even if in this classifications there're a few countries in the top places because they're very small).
So, the main statistics where Russia is #1 is the top-4 rating, that is they have the strongest top players. And it's good :)
Dry rating statistics won't help you to assess the amount of strong russian chessplayers. We have a lot of former Russian immigrants here in Israel, and you'd be amazed to see how well they play chess - and that's just the UNRATED players I'm talking about.
In Russia, it's easy to encounter people who play at 1800, 2000, and even 2200 level, yet never bothered to get an official rating. All their lives, they were perfectly happy playing at a local friendly level.
You see, because chess is such a household game in Russia, it's not even necessary for them to go to tournaments to find suitable opponents - they can just play with their friends and neighbours (who are also 2000-strength).
On the other hand, in USA, Italy, or Germany, it's very likely that a player cannot find a strong opponent UNLESS he goes to a tournament and gets a rating. So it's very likely that Germany, for example, has more rated players per capita than Russia, but, paradoxically enough, this doesn't mean Germans as a nation are better in chess than Russians ...
39 ( +1 | -1 ) ...nickname.....one reason i chose frodan was it sounded eastern european ,thus my opponents wud shake in their boots even before the first(shot was fired) pawn was pushed...am seriously considering adding -nsky or -zov to get "frodansky" or "frodanozov",this shud boost my rating thru the roof,waht do you all think?....
3 ( +1 | -1 ) re: frodanFrodan is a Romanian name.
4 ( +1 | -1 ) re:zdrakthanx ,i did not know this,honest!
26 ( +1 | -1 ) ficsherwas born in chicago, and raised in Brooklyn, NY. but he was a genius, never mind the pyramid-he could jump higher...i know, kinda corny, innit? but anyway-eninstin might have been an excellent chess player if he took the game up, could he not?
77 ( +1 | -1 ) russiansThere is an old joke that goes---There are three kinds of Grandmasters; Jewish Grandmasters, Russian Grandmasters and Jewish Russian Grandmasters. Perhaps it was the large Jewish population in Russia that was the reason for so many Grandmasters. More than half of all world chess champions were Jewish. Steinitz was the first Jewish champion and he lost to Lasker who was Jewish. Lasker defended his title against several Jewish grandmasters: Janowski, Tarrasch and schlecter. The next Jewish champion was Botvinnik who defended his title against Bronstein who was Jewish. Botvinnik lost his title to the Jewish grandmaster Tal. Spassky, who was a Jew, won the championship in 1969 and lost it to Fischer* who was Jewish. Kasparov* is jewish. * Fischer's mother was Jewish---Kasparov's father was Jewish.
9 ( +1 | -1 ) Finally there’s something reasonable, but not b......t about Lenin & Co, well done, tonlesu
6 ( +1 | -1 ) einsteinDid play some chess but I hear he didn't like it ;).