I recently played in a tournament in Iran (Fajr Cup, u2000), where 1600-rated players were a serious threat, and 1400-rated players would fight to the last pawn. I don't think a single opponent of mine made significant tactical errors--they know how to calculate. In my opinion, these players are vastly underrated, maybe by 300+ rating points. I also play in China, which is also considered an underrated country (but Iran seems more underrated).

Players suggest countries for relatively easy rating points and FIDE title norms: A WGM suggested France or Spain, and a WFM suggested Turkey to me. I'm tempted to go norm hunting, but I wonder where.

Question: Which countries are easiest to gain rating points and earn FIDE titles in?

I'm after something a bit more concrete than some random countries, e.g., the usual places players go to get rating points and norms.

  • 4
    Avoid countries with few tournaments. There the players' ratings probably won't be true because they haven't played enough games.
    – Wais Kamal
    Feb 23, 2019 at 13:22

3 Answers 3


Rating is a lagging indicator. That is, it gives an estimate of playing strength in the past. Therefore by definition players who are improving are underrated and players who are declining in strength are overrated.

Therefore as a first step if you can enter late you should look at the age profile of the entries and avoid entering tournaments with lots of very young players (who are likely to be still improving) and try and enter tournaments with old (preferably senile :-)) players (who will likely be on the decline).

Looking at the raw FIDE rating data which FIDE supply from January 2019 (I haven't yet loaded the latest February data in my database) and running a query gives the following results for average Date of Birth year for active players in federations with at least 1000 active players -

P 1. Denmark - 1966.4
2. Netherlands - 1969.5
3. Switzerland - 1970.95
4. Finland - 1972.8
5. Austria - 1974.2
6. Germany - 1974.6
7. Serbia - 1974.8
8. Sweden - 1976.1
9. Ireland - 1976.2
10. Bosnia Herzegovina - 1976.7
P 22. Spain - 1984.9
P 23. Australia - 1985.2
P 34. France - 1986.9
P 56. Iran - 1992.6
P 70. India - 1997
P 71. Turkey - 1997.8
P 76. China - 1999.2

So, for best results try and enter tournaments in countries at the top of the list and avoid countries at the bottom.

Note that Spain and France are not much different to Australia and Turkey is on a par with India - far too young!


In general, countries with many tournaments but not a super strong "chess culture". I think China and Iran tend to not have so many tournaments (if I recall correctly), which explains why their players tend to be more underrated.

Meanwhile, European countries have lots of FIDE rated events (some clubs have such events every weekend!). Since they have more tournaments they're more susceptible to rating inflation, thus making their players a bit overrated.

Since Eastern Europe has a stronger chess culture, you should prefer western European countries. Great candidates are, as you mentioned, France or Spain.

  • "I think China and Iran tend to not have so many tournaments (if I recall correctly)" Lazy! The information is available on the FIDE web site. So, for China - Tournaments Received for March 2019 China = 1 (ratings.fide.com/…) you were right but for Iran Tournaments Received for March 2019 = 103 (ratings.fide.com/…) you were wrong. Clearly there is something else going on here.
    – Brian Towers
    Feb 24, 2019 at 10:10
  • Yeah I wasn't certain so I wrote "if I recall correctly"... in general underrated countries have fewer tournaments. Feb 24, 2019 at 17:19

I am aware it has been 2 years but if you haven't had a chance to go because of pandemic don't go to Turkey it might be the most underrated after India and Azerbaijan.

I am from Turkey. I went to Slovenia for Portoroz open chess tournament in 2019. My national rating was 1600 and fide was 1523. At the tournament I performed 2050 and never lost to u-2100 which was unbelievable for me because till that tournament my highest tournament performance was 1620 fide and my top win was against a 1700.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.