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View Full Version : If you could be a pro chess player, would you?



Kevin Bonham
23-02-2004, 01:10 AM
This is a spin-off from the discussion about whether working at Maccas is "work", believe it or not.

By professional standards, nearly all of us here are amateurs and could not possibly make a living out of playing chess if we wanted to. The question is: if you could, would you?

Recently another player made some somewhat negative comments to me about people who just live for the game. Along the line of "what sort of life would you have lived, if all you could say you had been professionally was a chess player?" At the same time I'm well aware that some of our few pros are well-educated individuals who have also worked in other fields, and could do so again if the opportunity arose, so the stereotype of the pro chess addict with limited outside experience is hopefully just that, a stereotype.

Chess does have its pitfalls as an occupation. The pay isn't great, unless you're really top-echelon, and it's one of the most high-pressure and unpredictable income jobs imaginable. I've seen some suggestions based on life-expectancy data that really top-class players are unusually prone to health problems, though I don't know if this has been rigorously confirmed.

On the other hand, we all know a lot of the good things about the game, and many of us wish we could devote far more time to it than we do.

Suppose your playing strength magically transformed itself to 2600 (assuming you're not already there) and you could throw in your current lifestyle and make a living out of chess playing, maybe with some coaching or writing on the side. Would you actually do it?

Alan Shore
23-02-2004, 02:53 AM
An interesting hypothetical Kevin. I'm sure, for those who love the game very much would jump at the chance to involve themselves fulltime in chess if they were 'magically transformed' to 2600, indeed there are those who do just this despite being sub-2000 strength, receiving their income solely from coaching.

Of course, the health concerns you raise I believe may be quite justified - I seem to recall a study done that revealed chess was one of the most stressful activities one could participate in (coming after boxing).

Personally, I answered no because my love of the game has dwindled in recent years. While I still coach chess part time and enjoy playing chess variants such as transfer, suicide/losers and crazyhouse (perhaps even moreso than chess itself these days) I find other leisure activities and sports more fun. Pursuing an academic career is the more favourable option for me, for I would find it far more rewarding then living a GM chess-life. So even if I was 2600 strength, I would not be wanting to limit myself solely to a chess career but would want to branch out into other areas if interest too - I've never been one for specialisation.

arosar
23-02-2004, 09:22 AM
I answered no - even if I were 2600.

What it really comes down to is the degree of passion and the commitment. I reckon I'd find find a pro chess life far too boring, unfulfilling and unrewarding. I reckon chess is a bit like one of these gorgeous Playboy chicks, for example. Good for the occassional, you know - but mate, I couldn't settle down with her.

AR

Garvinator
23-02-2004, 10:42 AM
I reckon chess is a bit like one of these gorgeous Playboy chicks, for example. Good for the occassional, you know - but mate, I couldn't settle down with her.

AR

nice huge double generalisation there arosar :lol: :lol: :lol:

Who is to say that a playboy model is actually a good, you know and also some if not all of them might actually be a very nice and intelligent girl for a girlfriend
(well i would like to find out :eek: ;) :lol: :lol: :hmm: :uhoh:

PHAT
23-02-2004, 02:55 PM
Who is to say that a playboy model is actually a good, you know and also some if not all of them might actually be a very nice and intelligent girl for a girlfriend

(well i would like to find out :eek: ;) :lol: :lol: :hmm: :uhoh:


I can tell you, from a large sample size, you do not know what is inside the box until you open it up. Suffice to say, you don't buy a horse without riding it first.

PHAT
23-02-2004, 03:03 PM
Magically become 2600? If I could do anything at a top 0.001% level I would do it. As a Jack of all trades, a bit of an all rounder, I wish I was a god at something. But then again, I wonder how many savaunts wish they could be better than ordinary at other things.

firegoat7
23-02-2004, 03:19 PM
Damn straight I would. Just to have the chance to carve up Kasparov,Kramnik,Shirov,Leko and all those other damn hacks. I'd be there with bells on. I mean how good would it be watching kaspa grovelling for a draw as your about to mate him in 14. I reckon the adrenelin rush would be better then robbing a bank. I mean this is a god damn chess site, lets get real here. How good is the feeling when you club somebody strong. What the hell are you playing chess for if your heart dosent skip a beat.
regards FG7

Kevin Bonham
23-02-2004, 03:53 PM
Damn straight I would. Just to have the chance to carve up Kasparov,Kramnik,Shirov,Leko and all those other damn hacks. I'd be there with bells on. I mean how good would it be watching kaspa grovelling for a draw as your about to mate him in 14.

:lol: Maybe I should have said 2900 not 2600. Then I think it's a rather different question, if you get to be an "immortal" of the game - some people would probably take that for a living but not be so interested in the more standard professional GM experience.

I've answered "yes" to my own question (after thinking about it for a bit) because I'd always be happy if I could make a living out of something I enjoy and was (hypothetically in this case) really good at. I'd want to do other things with my life than just that but I'd assume that even for a chess professional, chess doesn't have to be all-consuming. (Cue numerous GMs arriving on the thread to tell me otherwise no doubt. :p )

Oepty
23-02-2004, 04:58 PM
I don't think so. Antway I think I would have some difficulty finding enough tournaments to play in if I stayed with my current discision not to play competively on Sundays.
Scott

Lemonv1
25-06-2005, 01:53 AM
I'd most definitely do it. I would also, however, take up another job, a part time one, at the same time (in something I find interesting).
I would even love being a pro player without it bringing any particular money benefits.

Aaron Bellette
27-06-2005, 04:04 PM
Not I, said the fly. I think some of the happiness I get from Chess (because it's my hobby) would be lost if it was my job. In addition, I would never be able to earn as much in Chess as I do with my work - or if I did, I would never be around my wife and daughter! :(

Ideally, I'd like to be like my chess idol Max Euwe - World Champion as an amateur but an Anaesthetist instead of a Maths Professor! ;)

AB

pballard
28-06-2005, 04:18 PM
I voted yes. I mean, I play chess for fun. Wouldn't it be cool to be paid to play!

p.s. if it's not prying too much, as a "mid-strength" GM, how does Ian Rogers put bread on the table? Is it mainly prizemoney, appearance fees, writing, coaching, or something else?

eclectic
28-06-2005, 04:26 PM
I voted yes. I mean, I play chess for fun. Wouldn't it be cool to be paid to play!

p.s. if it's not prying too much, as a "mid-strength" GM, how does Ian Rogers put bread on the table? Is it mainly prizemoney, appearance fees, writing, coaching, or something else?

i would guess chess journalism as his main source of income

eclectic

Aaron Bellette
28-06-2005, 04:45 PM
i would guess chess journalism as his main source of income
He also does quite a bit of work for "New in Chess", especially for the "Secrets of Opening Surprises" publications.

AB

EGOR
12-07-2005, 05:49 AM
I would be happy to work as a chess professional. There would be good and bad sides to it, but that applies to any job.

Carl Gorka
21-07-2005, 10:27 AM
Not I, said the fly. I think some of the happiness I get from Chess (because it's my hobby) would be lost if it was my job. In addition, I would never be able to earn as much in Chess as I do with my work - or if I did, I would never be around my wife and daughter! :(

Ideally, I'd like to be like my chess idol Max Euwe - World Champion as an amateur but an Anaesthetist instead of a Maths Professor! ;)

AB

I turned one hobby into a profession with circus skills, and soon hated practising while working most days. Saying that, I would love to be good enough to be a chess pro. I would then be able to stop performing and take that up as a hobby again. :)

Carl

Kaitlin
02-08-2005, 12:06 PM
:( turning a Art form into a Trade....
..
but then it would be a bit kewl :) and you would get to travel to the citys... hmmm im stuck in wat to write so I'll go bak to my poll answer of "not sure'

Carl Gorka
03-08-2005, 08:27 PM
:( turning a Art form into a Trade....
..
but then it would be a bit kewl :) and you would get to travel to the citys... hmmm im stuck in wat to write so I'll go bak to my poll answer of "not sure'

It may be ok to turn a hobby into a job, but I just lost interest as what I loved became routine.

I've just started coaching with chesskids in Melbourne so we'll see if the same happens with chess :eek: