In chess, noting the more common countries I've played (Indian Russia, Australia, France, US, China, Japan etc) I've noticed some similarities in their play style. Like how Japanese players, from what I've seen, play aggressive pawns; France and US play the more typical tactics, China doesn't play gambits, and overall isn't rich in strategy.

While these may just be coincidence, Is there enough similarity within a nationality that it's notable?

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    I would put my money on coincidence (or confirmation bias). Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 19:43
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    What number of players (per country) are we talking about? And what is their level? Also sounds like coincidence to me. Just look at some of the top players from say Russia and you will find all kind of styles there already. Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 20:25

3 Answers 3


Consider this quote from wikipedia regarding the Soviet Chess School:

The main contribution of the Soviet School of Chess was not the style of players but their emphasis on rigorous training and study of the game, i.e. considering chess a sport rather than an art or science.

Emphasis is mine.

Given that chess is taught as a school subject in Russia, then this points to there not being trends in chess style by country.

Moreover there seems to be little evidence that openings named after regions are done so because of their popularity there. If this were the case, then Scandinavians would tend to play the , which has a different style to the . In fact, the Scandinavian is called such because it was first seriously analysed by Scandinavian masters.


Interesting question, I've noticed that as well. In a way, german and english players for instance tend to play solid and wacky stuff respectively, like in soccer. Just kidding :)

Top GM of their countries play also an important role, Trompovsky attack has been popularised by John Nunn and other strong GMs, encouraging english chess school to adopt it. Strong german GMs like Jan Gustaffson usually play more solid openings. But there are exceptions of course.


Chess is a very internationalized game where geographical borders have a very limited impact on playing styles. Every strong player from any part on the world will have studied games from Capablanca, Euwe, Fischer, Kasparov and Carlsen, and that won't make their style more Cuban, Dutch, US, Russian nor Norvegian.

Moreover, in any big enough country, you will find very different players. Best Soviet grandmasters in the 60s where Stein, Petrosian, Smyslov, Taïmanov, Tal, Korchnoï and Spassky [edit: and Geller, and Keres, and Botvinnik, and so many... I should have chosen another country as example!]: but for the fact they all were super-strong players, it would be very hard to point any similarity in between their 'styles' (if such a thing even exists). If anything, their openings were very different. Later, Karpov and Kasparov were very different players too, etc...

For a while, an excellent book published in a certain language or an excellent trainer exercing in a specific area may have had an influence on the development of players in the given area and on their choice of openings: for instance, you would meet the Tarrasch defense more often in Sweden (a Gedeon Stahlberg's legacy) and the King's Indian more often in Yugoslavia (following Svetovar Gligoric's and Boris Ivkov's example). In our era of widespread information, however, I don't think that national borders have any significative influence.

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