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Professional Chess

The Numbers of active Chess Grandmasters has increased over time.

Year Number
1950 – 27
1972 – 88
2008 – 1300

Is it worthwhile becoming a professional Chess Grandmaster?

If you have the talent (the brain) to play chess on a high level you might finally become a grandmaster if you are willing to put in a lot of work. However, is this really worthwhile? Or would it be better to invest your time and talents in other fields of work?

Hassles of being a professional Chess Grandmaster

Sleeping in different Hotels

When you are a grandmaster hotel rooms are paid by the organizer who has invited you. When travelling from tournament to tournament you have to sleep in different hotels all the time. This can be quite disturbing because you never feel at home. Often organizers expect you to share a room with a fellow grandmaster to save costs. If the other guy snores at night or drinks a lot of alcohol or runs around naked then you have to accept this. Grandmasters participate in chess events for free and have to pay no entry fees.

Eating unhealthy Food

While travelling you can’t cook for yourself so you often may eat junk food or quick snacks.

Most likely you can’t effort to go to a restaurant every day as this might get too expensive over time.

Using cheap Airlines

“Today I had booked my next three flights with Ryanair in the next 40 days, no insurance involved, it is always gambling to fly with low budget airlines but what to do, basically if shit happens on the hight of 10000 feets or so I don’t think there is anyone going to save you, but what to do, it is always a gamble…” by GM Bogdan Lalic

Using cheap Bus lines

Often the cheapest bus line is used to save money. Sometimes a grandmaster spends over 20 hours in a bus.

Waiting for Buses and Trains

A lot of hours are wasted in waiting at bus stops and railway stations.

National Strike of Railway Workers

If there is a strike you may arrive too late at your next tournament.

Playing against Cheaters

Often it is not clear if you play against a cheater or not. Your lower-rated oppenent seems to make the best possible moves. He may use a software program somehow, but you are not aware of it. It sometimes happens that you have a feeling playing against perfect moves, but you can’t prove that your opponent uses a computer. This is an awful feeling. Should you offer a draw then or play on and might lose against a chess program?

Win Prize Money

You are under constant pressure to win prize money to be able to pay your expenses. If you have a bad day and lose a game this might mean that you make no money at all in this tournament.

Getting older

When you get over 50 years of age you have the feeling that it becomes harder to compete versus young players. When you play against a young ambitious player you often have no confidence and nerves to play equal positions until the very end because you are afraid of losing. You offer an early draw to get out of this unpleasant situation. Your rating drops gradually because of this behaviour.


It may be difficult to have a girlfriend because you are on the road most of the time. I doubt that any woman can accept this.

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