Russia still has the most grandmasters compared to the United States.
For the first time ever, the United States has more chess grandmasters than Russia. This is because increasing number of top Russian players are refusing to represent their nation after Vladimir Putin's decision to attack Ukraine, Newsweek reported.
The International Chess Federation (FIDE), the governing body of chess, has released its July rankings for the world's top hundred players. It has 13 players from the United States and 12 from Russia - the first time that US has more players in the list.
According to Newsweek, Fabiano Caruana, 29, Levon Aronian, 39, and Wesley So, 28, are all among FIDE's top 10 players in the world this month, rating fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, while 31-year-old Ian Nepomniachtchi is the sole Russian grandmaster in the top 10, ranked seventh.
Meanwhile, leading Russian chess players, including 32-year-old Dmitry Andreikin, 35-year-old Nikita Vitiugov, 25-year-old Kirill Alekseenko, 28-year-old Alexandr Predke, 27-year-old Vladimir Fedoseev, 20-year-old Andrey Esipenko, 22-year-old Alexey Sarana, 34-year-old Anton Demchenko, and 41-year-old Vladimir Malakhov, have switched to compete under the flag of the game's international body.
Russia still has the most grandmasters (246) compared to 101 in the United States, Newsweek further said.
According to Emil Sutovsky, an Israeli grandmaster and FIDE's director general, outrage over Putin's war on Ukraine has prompted several top Russian players to leave the Russian Chess Federation and join FIDE, he told The Telegraph.
"Five years ago, Russia had 22 grandmasters in the top 100," Sutovsky remarked. "It's just 12 o'clock today." This is not because the elder generation led by Kramnik has dropped off of the list; rather, as the war began, many great Russian chess players felt it was appropriate to transfer to playing under the neutral flag of FIDE, Newsweek reported.