In the history of FIDE chess competitions or rankings, why hasn't there been a black super GM (2750+ elo)? What could be the hindrance or what is it that the black players are not doing right that other players from other races are doing right in chess?

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    Another similar question: "Why are there so few non-Asian Go professionals?"
    – ahiijny
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:20
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    Chess is historically an Indo-European game, mostly played by Europeans (and in India). Minorities in European countries will be under-represented in chess because they are minorities - they are under-represented in the main population where chess is primarily played at very high levels. A similar question might be why there are so few white Mancala players.
    – J...
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 12:27
  • Neuris Delgado is currently no. 72 in rapid chess FIDE ranking. Isan Ortiz had a rating performance of 2766 in the 2014 Chess Olympiad: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isan_Reynaldo_Ortiz_Su%C3%A1rez Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 14:26
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    I recall 11 GMs that have evident black African ancestry: Amon Zimutowe, Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Zamora, Juan Carlos Obregon Rivero, Maurice Ashley, Neuris Delgado Ramirez, Oleiny Linares, Orelvis Perez Mitjans, Ramon Mateo, Román Hernández Onna (first black GM, died this month), Pontus Carlsson. And I believe these may have some African ancestry, maybe mixed with European and Ameridian: David Arena Vanegas, Yago Santiago. Black international masters are too many to list. Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 14:26
  • @ahiijny NICE. LOL.
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


The number of players was already mentioned. But lets go one level deeper than that.

There are two driving factors in the chance that a player becomes a top player:

  1. Talent
  2. Education

And once you know the chance that someone becomes a top player, you can multiply this with the number of players. Which depends on the population and chance of someone playing.

A very simplistic formula might be:

Expected number of top players = Population size * likelihood to play * likelihood to have enough chess talent * likelihood to have enough chess education

Now, let's look into each of the factors:

Likelihood to have enough chess education

This is both cultural and economical.

Beginner level: The more people play chess, the more likely you have access to someone who can explain you the rules, and teach you how to play

Intermediate level: If more people play, you are more likely to find suitable opponents to develop against. If the local economy is better, it is more likely that you can afford basic training materials or have the chance to play/study online. A combination of economy and player density will determine if you are able to play many tournaments.

Advanced level: At this point training will require a serious investment of time and money that not everyone can make. Logistics are slightly easier if there are several strong tournaments nearby, but you will still expect to travel international. Also don't underestimate the fact that you will likely not be able to work (or at least less) outside chess if you want to climb to the top.

Likelihood to play

Once a sport is popular, it is much more likely to be picked up by new people. A clear example can be found in the Netherlands, where the sport got really booming for decades after Max Euwe became the world champion. Not only will this lead to more players, it will often also lead to more facilitating infrastructure/clubs which may encourage people to play.

Likelihood to have enough chess talent

There are plenty of controversial statements that could be made here, but I think it is fairly safe to say that starting with general education and calculation/reading skills have a positive impact on chess talent coming out.

Population size

More people leads to more potential players.


The reason why there are less Black top players, is because the population in general has a lower average likelihood to become one. For people in less faverable circumstances the answer so far should already explain things clearly. For other people (e.g. those in the US) I think the main reason is that they have a reduced likelihood to become a player. If earlier generations did not play themselves, and there are no past champions to inspire you, that will slow down adoption.

That being said, as education and economical development increases across the globe, I think we just need one black world champion of a few top players in general before we start seeing many black players grow to the top :)

  • is this perhaps similar to why there are few (is only 1 in standard FIDE ratings right?) female super GMs and no active female super GMs?
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 1:45

I would say the main reason here is the low proportion of black players. If you look at statistics from the 20th century, you will find very few top players from Asia. But as chess became more popular in countries like China, now there are plenty of Asian super GMs.

I guess something similar will happen to still underrepresented races

  • is this perhaps similar to why there are few (is only 1 in standard FIDE ratings right?) female super GMs and no active female super GMs?
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 1:45
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    @BCLC that could be a harder question, but so far we haven't found any of the differences between male and female brains to be relevant for chess performance. So yes, the most reasonable explanation we have today for why there aren't many female GMs is that there aren't that many female chess players.
    – David
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 11:51

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