Interesting to note that in Jan 2001 , we were ranked 4th behind Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore in terms of the number of FIDE rated players that we have in the country. Indonesia had 118 players, Philippines 97 players, Singapore 61 and we were next at 60 - only 1 shy from Singapore. 10 years have passed and we are now ranked 2nd with 293 players in the list, behind Philippines who has 330 players. Vietnam is now 3rd in the list with 256 players, Singapore 191 players and Indonesia is now ranked 5th with 190 players. From these number alone, we could probably say that we have made quite a significant progress in populating more FIDE rated players in the country. Without a doubt, we have the numbers but do we have the quality?
Based on the Jan 2011 rating list (for the period between November/December 2011), we were the most active country in the region with 84 of our players (or 29% of that 293 players that we have in the rating list) played at least 1 FIDE rated event. This is more than double of our closest rival Philippines who had only 38 players playing at least a FIDE rated game during the same period. Singapore was next at 28 followed by Vietnam at 26. Indonesia had only 2 players playing at least one FIDE rated game during the same period. I doubt the figures would include the Singapore Chess Festival but even if it did, I am sure we would still lead as there were also quite a substantial number of Malaysians playing in the event. Well it seems that we are also one of the more active country in the region.
What about strength?
Based on the various rating period since 2001 - rating list was published at least once a quarterly between 2001 and 2004 but since 2009, it has been published at least once every 2 months - let us look how we fare as a country. For calculation purposes, the "strength" of the country is based on the average rating of its top 20 players - inactive or otherwise.
Since 2001, we have always been ranked at 5th place behind Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore - but not necessarily in that order, and in front of Thailand and Brunei - again, not necessarily in that order,
There was once in 2006 that Brunei went on top but we would remain at number 5. Our lowest average of the top 20 players was in 2001 when we were at 2274 points (and during that time, IM Mas Hafizul rating was more than 2450!) but even now, we are only averaging 2292 - an 18 points increase in 10 years. But, 3 other countries continued to improve their average:
- Philippines who is the top country in the region, improved its rating points by almost 50 points during the same period.
- Vietnam showed the most improvement with 83 points increased from 2364.7 in 2001 to 2447.8 in 2011.
- Brunei increased their rating strength by 58 points during the same period from 2197 in 2001 to 2255 in 2011
- Singapore also increased their strength by 32 points from 2352 in 2001 to 2384 in 2011
- Indonesia's average dropped by more than 4 points in 10 years from 2412 in 2001 to 2408 in 2011
- Thailand dropped by 12 points from 2228 in 2001 to 2216 in 2011
Whilst we may argue that Singapore's average is being inflated by "unnaturalized" citizens, the island state city can still brag of having produced their own GM in Wong Meng Kong, and IM Goh is also making some kind of commitment to try and reach for the GM title. And whilst similar things can be said for Brunei, for having GM Vakhidov under their payroll, at the rate they are going, it would probably not be long before they overtake us as well.
In terms of player activeness, prior to the rating list that was released in Jan 2011, our most active player played 23 FIDE rated games (Mohd Nabil Azman Hisham) but Philippines most active player played 39 FIDE rated games with Vietname at 22 games ad Singapore 21 games.
It seems that we have been able to create the opportunities to increase more FIDE rated players in the country, and our players are quite active participating in FIDE rated events as well but, whilst we do have the quantity, we seem to be lacking the quality. So, how do we address this?
What say you?
Next: Who is the most active FIDE player in Malaysia 2010? And the "quality" behind the numbers of FIDE rated players that we have in country.