Chess For A Living

A complex and much misunderstood area is that of professional chess. And does someone need to improve their chess to do it for a living?

Probably not. An average rainy day player (rating below 1000) is well able to teach chess to non-playing kids in schools as long as they have other skills and personal traits such as kindness and teaching ability. For coaching stronger players (1500+) things get more complex as there are far fewer prospective students plus a marked tendency for people to pass on their own misconceptions to the people they teach.

On the other hand someone really needs to be in the top 50 or so in the World to make a good living as a professional player. And even that might not be enough unless they have an appealing personality which leads to tournament organizers to wanting to invite them!

Of course the reality of so-called ‘professional chess’ is that there are lots of people who define themselves as ‘professionals’ because chess is their only source of income, though meanwhile they barely scrape by or may be supported by the state or their parents. They desperately need to clarify the issues in order to get the most out of life.

So if someone asks me what I do for a living then I tell them I’m a chess teacher rather than the vague and easy to misunderstand ‘chess professional’. It’s true that when I was playing regularly I made a small profit from my tournament activities, but this was not enough to to live from.