Once in a while I like to load FIDE rating data into my database software and look at the numbers. A few years, while I was still with About.com, I presented some results in a post titled Ratings of Titled Players (see entry for 17 February 2008). Later I presented other results on this blog, as in Growth of the FIDE Rating System and Useless Stats/Qs about Ratings.
Since that last post was written two years ago using the January 2009 rating list (I use the January lists as a proxy for the preceding year), I downloaded the January data for 2010 and 2011, and started looking at the numbers. One of the first things I noticed was that the number of GMs had declined from 2010 to 2011. How, I asked myself, is this possible? A little investigation revealed that entire countries were missing from the list for January 2011.
Combining the data for all players for the four years 2008 through 2011, I counted 163 different federations (countries) on the list. Of those, 42 had no players listed in 2011. Of those, there were almost a dozen that had more than 100 players listed in 2008.
Is this because the federations haven't paid their dues? Whatever the reason, any statistics using this first 2011 rating list will be completely useless and misleading. Why try to promote chess when you are constantly watching out for its political establishment? Thanks, FIDE!