How Cool Is ‘GM’?

It was nice to read that the 18 year old Kansas Champion, Conrad Holt, thinks it’s cool to say you’re a Grandmaster. His mum thinks it’s great that you can put ‘GM’ before your name.

Is it cool? Well I guess so. Though after almost two decades as a GM I’ve yet to use it instead of plain old ‘Mr’.

There are some downsides too in that people you meet may get a bit perturbed by such a grandiose title and not know quite how to treat you. Especially if you wear tatty jeans and a t-shirt.

‘Dr’ may be similarly intimidating though most Doctors take themselves rather more seriously and tend to dress for the part. That could also be how male Doctors seem to attract more nurses than Grandmasters, though I suppose a group of us could test this by dressing up and hanging out in a hospital or two. We should probably try either Accident & Emergency or the Psychiatric Department.

Perhaps the main problem for GM coolitude is that most of us don’t make money. Being a wealthy or famous GM, for example the economist Ken Rogoff, is unbelievably cool, and even without hair. It’s also cool to be a top ten GM and poker player and it’s cool to be a World Champion. On the other hand if you try to eke out a living at weekend tournaments your status is considerably diminished.

Is it cool to be a GM chess teacher? Not really, though I can’t say that I’m particularly bothered. And this is one of the few good things about not being 18 any more.