Becoming a Professional Chess Player: A Path to Mastery and the Financial Realities

Becoming a Professional Chess Player: A Path to Mastery and the Financial Realities


Chess, the “Game of Kings,” has long captivated the hearts and minds of enthusiasts around the world. For many, the dream of becoming a professional chess player, traveling the globe, and earning a living from their passion is an alluring prospect. In this article, we’ll explore the journey to becoming a professional chess player and the financial considerations that come with it.

1. Mastering the Fundamentals

Becoming a professional chess player requires a strong foundation in the game’s fundamentals. Start by learning the rules, basic tactics, and common openings. Practice regularly, analyze your games, and study the classics played by grandmasters to improve your strategic understanding. Joining a chess club or finding a mentor can be immensely beneficial in accelerating your progress.

2. Tournament Experience

Participating in chess tournaments is crucial to refining your skills and gaining valuable experience. Local tournaments, regional events, and eventually national and international competitions will expose you to a diverse range of opponents and playing styles. Tournament play also helps build mental resilience and emotional stability, both essential traits for a professional chess player.

3. Achieving a FIDE Rating

To be recognized as a professional player, you’ll need an official FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) rating. FIDE is the governing body for international chess competitions, and obtaining a rating requires consistent tournament participation and strong performances against rated opponents. As your rating improves, you’ll climb the ranks and gain recognition within the chess community.

4. Seeking Sponsorship and Financial Support

One of the main challenges of pursuing a career in chess is financial sustainability. Professional players often rely on sponsorships, financial support from federations, or private patrons. Securing sponsorships is a gradual process that demands a combination of strong results and a charismatic personality to attract potential sponsors. Some players also supplement their income by coaching, writing chess books, or giving simultaneous exhibitions.

5. Grandmaster Title

The pinnacle of achievement for a professional chess player is the prestigious title of Grandmaster (GM). Attaining this title requires a FIDE rating of 2500 and three GM norms, which are earned through exceptional performances in high-level tournaments. Becoming a GM signifies a level of skill achieved by only a select few in the chess world, providing access to elite competitions and greater financial opportunities.

Financial Considerations: Is it Worth It?

The financial viability of a career as a professional chess player varies greatly. While top-tier players, especially those who achieve GM status and perform well in elite tournaments, can earn significant income from prize money, sponsorships, and appearance fees, the vast majority of professional players face financial challenges.

For many, the financial rewards may not match the time, effort, and financial investments required to reach the pinnacle of chess. Additionally, the unpredictability of tournament results and the competitive nature of the chess world can make it challenging to maintain a stable income.


Becoming a professional chess player is a journey that demands unwavering dedication, passion, and persistence. While the financial rewards can be substantial for the elite few, the reality is that the majority of professional players face financial uncertainties. Aspiring chess players should weigh their passion for the game against the financial realities, consider having alternative income streams, and be prepared for the challenges that come with a career in professional chess.

In the end, the value of pursuing a career in chess extends beyond financial gains. It is a journey of personal growth, intellectual fulfillment, and a chance to leave a lasting mark in the world of this timeless game. Whether or not it is worth it financially, only the individual player can decide, but the love for the game itself can make the pursuit truly rewarding.