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Chess as a Career


Unless your top 10 material, it seems that most professional chess players aren't particularly wealthy and may even be in financial difficulties at times. The fact is that chess is mainly a one-way road in terms of money. Basically, money goes out, no money comes back in. Of course, some younger lower-rated players do get lucky and strike a major sponsorship deal, but speaking as a 2100 player, I am severely in the red when I play chess, particularly in stronger tournaments when entry fees are often higher and one needs to purchase airtickets, accommodation, etc. It does get better when a player earns his International Master title (or higher), as they are then offered many free services such as free membership on PlayChess and waived entry fees to weaker tournaments.

In an interview, our current World Champion (at the time of writing), Viswanathan Anand, stated that he was financially comfortable "after becoming a GM", although nowadays it is more difficult. Anand advised that only at 2650+, does one have "a good chance of supporting [oneself]". (Click here to see the rest of the Anand interview.)

However, most chess players cannot play professionally and need a 'backup' income source. Either, they can turn to the standard path of a university education followed by a job in that particular field; or, many players are now looking towards the gambling game of poker for income. It is quite obvious why - poker is a strategy game just like chess, so chess minds are easy accustomed to the game. But the main reason is that there is so much more money in poker, so much more sponsorship from large companies. Of course, poker is becoming extremely popular and presumably, it is becoming increasingly difficult to outdo other well-educated players. Nevertheless, some players continually prove that they can beat the majority of the crowd consistently.

My countryman James Obst made the switch from chess to poker. With a rating of 2283 and still being very young, he could be considered a very promising junior player. However, he stopped playing chess tournaments a couple of years ago (although he has remained active on ICC) and has taken up full-time professional poker. He has been very successful in poker tournaments and according to CardPlayer, has won over $1.6 million. Examples of chess players who play poker include Almira Skripchenko, Alexander Morozevich, Joe Gallagher, Etienne Bacrot and Walter Browne.

To purchase products, I recommend Wholesale Chess. They provide the highest quality chess products at the lowest prices (especially for US and Canadian players). They even offer to match prices with other chess websites! Even though I live overseas, this is where I choose to purchase chess goods.

For chess opening training and repertoire maintenance, I highly recommend the software I use, Chess Openings Wizard. This software was approved by Grandmaster Peter Svidler (FIDE rating 2744 as of January 2010) many years ago.


Posted by Webmaster on Saturday, January 9, 2010.


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