ChessMastermind
ChessMastermind
7 min read

A Global Look at the Popularity of Chess: Which Countries Love the Game the Most?

Discover the top chess-loving countries worldwide, and explore the cultural and social factors that contribute to their enduring love for the game.

Chess is a game that has captivated minds and inspired competition for centuries. Whether played as a casual pastime or as a serious pursuit of mastery, chess is a game that transcends borders and cultures. But which countries love the game the most? In this article, we will take a global look at the popularity of chess and explore the reasons why some countries have become hotbeds of chess activity.

The Most Popular Chess Countries

When it comes to chess, certain countries have become synonymous with the game. These are the places where chess has the deepest roots, where it has been played and celebrated for generations. So, which countries can claim the title of the most popular chess nations?
According to data from the World Chess Federation (FIDE), Russia is currently the most active country in terms of registered chess players. As of 2021, there were over 100,000 registered players in Russia, making it the clear leader in terms of sheer numbers. This should come as no surprise, as Russia has a long and storied history with the game of chess. The Soviet Union produced some of the greatest chess players of all time, including Mikhail Botvinnik, Anatoly Karpov, and Garry Kasparov.
India is another country that has seen a surge in the popularity of chess in recent years. As of 2021, there were over 60,000 registered players in India, and the country has produced some of the world's top players, such as Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna. One reason for the popularity of chess in India is its strong tradition of intellectual pursuits and academic achievement. Chess is seen as a way to develop critical thinking skills and mental agility, and it is often promoted in schools and universities as a way to cultivate these abilities.
China is another country that has seen a rapid rise in the popularity of chess in recent years. As of 2021, there were over 55,000 registered players in China, and the country has produced several strong players, such as Ding Liren and Hou Yifan. The Chinese government has been actively promoting the game of chess as a way to cultivate strategic thinking and intellectual prowess, and this has led to a surge in interest in the game across the country.
Other countries that have a strong tradition of chess and a high number of registered players include Germany, Spain, France, and the United States. In each of these countries, chess is seen as a serious pursuit that requires dedication, skill, and intellectual rigor.

Chess in Developing Countries

While chess is popular in many developed countries, it has also become a tool for social development and education in many developing countries. In places where access to resources and education is limited, chess can provide a way for young people to develop critical thinking skills and engage in meaningful competition.
One country that has been at the forefront of using chess as a tool for social development is Uganda. In 2002, the Ugandan government launched a national chess program, which has since grown to reach over 300,000 children in more than 1,200 schools. The program has had a transformative effect on the lives of many Ugandan children, providing them with a way to develop critical thinking skills and engage in competition with their peers.
Another country that has embraced chess as a tool for social development is South Africa. The South African Chess Federation runs a program called Chess in Schools, which aims to introduce chess to children in disadvantaged communities. The program has been successful in developing critical thinking skills and fostering a sense of community among the children who participate.
In Brazil, chess has become a popular activity in favelas, or low-income neighborhoods. The program, called Chess in the Favelas, has introduced chess to thousands of children living in poverty, providing them with an opportunity to develop their minds and learn critical thinking skills that can help them overcome the challenges they face.

In many developing countries, chess is also being used as a way to promote gender equality and empower young women. The Chess Queens of Africa program, for example, aims to develop a new generation of female chess players and leaders across the continent. The program has been successful in promoting the game of chess among girls and young women and inspiring them to pursue their dreams.

Chess in Western Countries

While chess has a long and rich history in many parts of the world, it has also been embraced by Western countries as a way to promote critical thinking skills and intellectual development. In the United States, for example, chess has become a popular activity in schools, with many schools offering chess clubs and programs to their students. The United States Chess Federation, which is the national governing body for chess in the country, has over 85,000 members and hosts numerous tournaments and events throughout the year.

In Europe, chess has a deep cultural tradition and is seen as a serious intellectual pursuit. Many European countries have produced some of the world's top chess players, including Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Fabiano Caruana of Italy. Chess is also a popular activity among young people, with many schools and universities offering chess clubs and programs.

One area where chess has seen significant growth in recent years is in online play. With the rise of online platforms and mobile apps, chess has become more accessible than ever before. Players from all over the world can now connect and compete with one another, regardless of their location or level of experience. Online chess has also opened up new opportunities for coaching and education, allowing players to learn from some of the world's top chess coaches and experts.


Chess is a game that has captivated minds and inspired competition for centuries. From its origins in ancient India to its current status as a global phenomenon, chess has transcended borders and cultures, bringing people together and inspiring them to pursue excellence. While certain countries have become synonymous with the game of chess, its appeal is truly global, with millions of players and enthusiasts from all over the world. Whether played as a casual pastime or as a serious pursuit of mastery, chess remains one of the most beloved and enduring games in human history.