Friday, June 3, 2011

Explaining Chess Success

To what extent can the population or GDP of a country explain its chess success? (pdf)

by Leung Weiwen

Just thought I'd share this interesting study by Weiwen, who is an undergraduate from our neighboring country, Singapore. Below is the abstract:

A country’s population and income can be invoked logically as factors linked to its chess success – measured by number of titled players or average chess ratings of its top ten players. But exactly how much do they contribute to its chess success? This study analyses World Chess Federation and economic data of chess playing countries. I find that depending on how “chess success” is defined, between 17% and 40% of a country’s chess success can be explained in terms of its population and GDP (adjusted for cost of living). Further, there are some countries that are much more successful than would be expected based on their population or GDP. Their training pipeline, national federation policies, and other aspects of their chess culture deserve some study.

Though I think that the study contains great breadth, it can probably be done a bit deeper. This was a cross-sectional study, which means that it was compared for one time period. To go deeper, perhaps the comparison can be done across time. The GDP data is easily available. Not sure if the data for ratings are that easily available, but I can't imagine that previous rating lists would be too difficult to find.

Also, another major concern that I have is that, the study compares the current GDP level with that of the current strengths of the playing nations. When in fact, I would imagine that the playing strengths could lag the GDP, meaning, in order to study the effects of wealth on chess, it would probably be better to take the GDP data from 3-10 years ago, because that could typically be how long it takes for chess talent to develop.

Another further study could also compare the relationship between improvement in the top players in the country with that country's growth in GDP, instead of the level of GDP. That is to study the CHANGE in the average rating of the top 10 players with the change in GDP over say, a 10-20 year period.

If anyone is ever interested in conducting a joint study like that with me, do let me know. If Weiwen ever reads this, it would be awesome if you wish to pursue this study further. I would be happy to contribute.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I've read your comments. Thank you very much for your insightful suggestions, which I will consider. If you haven't already contacted me through either email in my paper, please do so.