Monday, September 23, 2013

LIFE AS A CHESS PROFESSIONAL?!

Recently there was a post by English GM Danny Gormally who laments about his woes as a chess professional. By that he hopes to be able to make a living doing what he loves, playing chess.

As he'd described in his post, found here , the cash returns from winning tournaments in England are dwindling in view of a weakened EU economy, not forgetting the deluge of Eastern European and former Soviet GMs who now reside in Europe thus heightening the competition. So the few avenues left open to the GMs who wish to eke out a living from chess are to consider teaching students or write books/produce instructional videos. Unfortunately he's not interested in these activities, hence he finds himself stuck in a rut as he put it.

There are 2 main points in his post, ie
a) He chose to be a GM, hoping to make his livelihood through playing chess and not willing to consider other chess-related forms of income, and
b) There is no way he could turn back the clock and do something else to make ends meet.

This is indeed excruciating for someone who'd already sunk his feet into the business and not being able to achieve his ambition, simply because the big bucks in tournament prizes is no longer attainable as compared to the past 20 years where sponsors are readily available. The pace of events in the chess world has quickened thanks to the introduction of computer chess engines, which has somewhat demystified the charm for the game. In fact, the chess audience pool has also shrunk with the advent of computer games created from social media that has converted many chess fans because they are more appealing (and less taxing on the brain to play). Naturally, chess events are no longer attractive to organise and of course with the decline in participating numbers, the sponsors too do not see it viable to come forward. Hence the vicious cycle of dwindling numbers and sponsors plague the chess world and does pose a major dilemma to would-be GMs and titled players whether they should pursue their dream.

As I have long given up any ghosts of trying to be top player, my main livelihood comes from teaching and I put my whole being into this in the hopes of developing young minds into their fullest potential - not on the chessboard but in imparting useful life skills as well. My students will not end up as geeks and misfits because I do not steer them into the path of no return, rather they should see chess as a means to discipline their thinking, sharpen their decision making, able to cope with adversity and other stresses in life. They will surely end up better human beings than just being able to manipulate the 32 figures on the board. Hence being able to expound the benefits of chess in my view far surpasses the notion of moulding the child into a top player. My satisfaction comes mainly when I hear of their successes either in the corporate world or in their field of expertise. My only wish for them is that they continue to play and support the game that has helped them in achieving what they are today.

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