We’re number 1290!

by admin on April 2, 2011

I just learned, courtesy of Bill Brock’s Chicago Chess Blog, that the USCF member pages have added another new wrinkle: a line that indicates your ranking in the whole country. My current rating is 2093  🙁 . That puts me at #1290 in the country, which is actually better than I would have expected. However, the ranking only includes players who have been active in the last twelve months. So it’s #1290 out of 47,241 — not out of the entire membership base.

Naturally I would like to get back into the top 1000, which currently requires a rating of 2139. To crack the top 500, it looks as if I would need a rating of 2230, or perhaps 2231. Mike Splane, a regular reader of this blog, is just on the cusp of the top 500, with a rating of 2229 (national ranking of #506).

If you’re a junior, you can also find out your ranking among juniors in the country. I was quite surprised to find out that 73 percent of the active players in the country are juniors! A more depressing viewpoint is that of the 47,000-plus active chess players in the country, only a little more than 12,000 or so are grownups. I wonder if there will come a day when chess in this country is exclusively played by people under 21 …

Finally, you can also find out your ranking within your state. According to my member page, I’m number 92 in northern California (which is treated as a separate state from southern California). However, according to the top-200 list for the state, I’m number 87. Why the difference? Well, the top-200 list is based on published ratings, which are only updated once a month, while the member page seems to be updated a lot more frequently. (In fact, within the last hour I dropped from #91 to #92! Jeez, I’d better get busy.)

Just for fun, here is the current top-10 list in northern California, along with my lifetime record against them.



My record vs. …

Sam Shankland



Jesse Kraai



Vinay Bhat



Steven Zierk


½ – 1½

Walter Browne


½ – ½

Sevan Buscara



Ricardo de Guzman



Daniel Naroditsky


½ – ½

Dmitry Zilberstein



Vladimir Mezentsev



I’m a little surprised, first of all, that I have actually played 9 of the top 10 players in northern California, and also that I’ve done so well. My overall record against the top 10 is 35 percent (4½-8½), which I think is better than I would normally be expected to do against this opposition.

This table raises one more question: Who is Sevan Buscara? It turns out that he is a 19-year-old French citizen with a FIDE rating of 2259. He has played two USCF-rated tournaments, both of them this year, so his USCF rating is actually only a provisional rating based on 10 games. He has won 9 out of 10 games in this country, with his only loss coming to Ricardo de Guzman. One could argue that he is not really a northern California player — at least not an established one. If we take him off the list and put the #11 player, John Donaldson, in his place, then I am a perfect 10 for 10! I have played all of the top 10 players with established ratings in northern California! My record against John is ½-1½, so this addition lowers my lifetime record against the top 10 to 5-10 (33 percent), with 3 wins, 4 draws, and 8 losses.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Splane April 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I was reading this and about to look up my own rating. I had a good laugh when I saw you beat me to the punch. Thanks for the info!

And thanks for writing up my game with Alex Levitan a couple of weeks ago.


Marc April 4, 2011 at 8:10 am

Not surprised at all about the high percentage of juniors. It’s much easier to convince parents that their kids should play chess than to convince parents to play themselves. The parents are just too busy. I think there is a real opportunity that is being missed right now for marketing chess to parents, and to adults in general. The easiest next step would be to somehow encourage the parents of scholastic kids to play. The goal need not be to bring parents into the regular USCF system of rated tournaments. The goal should simply be promoting enjoyment of the game, and get more adults playing.


Jason April 5, 2011 at 8:05 am

To reply to Marc:

One major problem with our chess culture is the over-emphasis on rating and on weekend cash-prize money tournaments. Most people don’t play golf or tennis on the weekends to get some cash prize or to rank themselves. Why so in chess?

Like you say, we need more events targeted to the non-tournament player. More casual events, more learning opportunities, more creative and alternative chess events. As president of the Boylston Chess Club in Boston, I would love to get more ideas as I try to steer the club in this direction.


Marc April 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

To reply to Jason:

It sounds like BCC has a dedicated leader. Here’s an idea that borrows from either tennis or golf. Do a mixed rating consultation event. On each board, White and Black would be played by 2 players with 200 points rating difference or more. It’s kind of like a tennis doubles, or a golf pro-am. I like the idea of offering an opportunity to play along with a partner. I think that would help get some people to play, especially novices who would otherwise be nervous or afraid of looking stupid. Or if you got some titled players to volunteer, you might attract people to your club for the unique opportunity to observe a master’s thought process. Of course you would need some very patient and understanding volunteers to be the mentors. But really, this is a teaching and publicity event, not serious competition.


admin April 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Thanks, Marc and Jason! I’m so excited to see some actual discussion on my blog! I hope that something comes of these plans.

Why don’t you combine the ideas, and have a tournament for teams, with each team containing one parent and one child? I think this would be a great way to make chess more of a family event. Of course the tournament would not be rated. You could have prizes or not, as you see fit.

By the way, there are two different sets of rules you can play under in a 2-person game. You can have true consultation, where the two players talk about the move and decide together what to do. However, what I don’t like about that is that the stronger or more opinionated player will tend to dominate.

Alternatively, you can play doubles — the form I prefer — where there is no conversation during the game and the players strictly alternate moves. This version really makes both players matter, and rewards couples who can adapt their style to each other.


Frederick "Krakatoa" Rhine April 7, 2011 at 10:21 am

I wish they had lists that included inactive players. I’m 2201, which I would guess would put in the top 800 or so if it were an active rating. My correspondence rating is a gaudy 2417, which probably would put me in the top 100 of all U.S. players, active and inactive. I do have an active quickchess rating of 2213, but sadly they don’t do lists of quickchess players.


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