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Good Luck With That

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While simply trying to see the results at the Staunton Memorial I found this after clicking through the live page:

To view the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament Live Webcast you are required to subscribe to 2 See It Live. A simple 'ONE OFF' payment of £5.00 subscription fee is required which will provide you full access to the live webcast during the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament.

As far as can be told, this is simply to see the moves, no robust video coverage or anything like that. Hey, I hope it works out for them; it would be a first and a whole new business model. Getting people to pay for what they can get for free a few hours later -- the moves without adding any value by way of multimedia, commentary, etc. -- has never succeeded. Or maybe they plan to go with the hostage gamescore model and try to keep the scores secret? I believe Ray Keene is still involved in the organization, so perhaps they're working from the old Einstein/Braingames business plan. How did that end up again?

Maybe one of the, oh, I'd say 14 people who cough up the five quid will let us know how it's going. Intentionally or not, the one game that's on the live page now is "Short, J vs Timman, J". Not sure what that's about but if it's meant as a teaser it's not going to inspire much confidence since Timman and Short (N or J) aren't playing in the same event. Do they not have any sponsors who might appreciate some traffic, name recognition, and appreciation instead of making a few bucks that won't come close to covering the organizer's daily lunch tab? Again, it's not as if it's an unfair price, or even a bad idea on its merits, it's that you're trying to get people to pay for something they are used to getting for free without adding anything. But since some sites don't provide live coverage at all, it's not like the public is getting a raw deal. I just wish they'd try harder to innovate.

Lovely event and all, unless Rupert Murdoch is running things now it would be nice to learn from past mistakes. Put up something worth paying for (hint: exclusive and robust coverage), make it easy to pay for, and people will pay for it. ICC Chess.FM rings a bell here, and ChessBase seems to be paying the rent. I'm sure the sponsor list would appreciate a nice big banner that pops up for 10 seconds before the (free) live board appears, for example.


No money from me.

It's a steep price if you just want to watch a nice game of chess, and if you don't know about the quality of the transmission, or of the game, beforehand. I don't have all week to watch the whole tournament. The payment scheme could work if someone finds an easy way to charge a few cents per game.

That's what some coordination could bring. FIDE, the Grand Slam people, whatever. Sell a pass for a year, sell virtual tickets that get you a day's viewing of any affiliated event, etc. The central seller then pays the organizer based on how many tickets they collect.

There are a million ways to try to monetize things like this without slamming a door in your face and asking you to cough up money on the spot on faith to an entity you don't know at all. First establish professional methods and trust, then see what people are willing to pay for your services. I well understand it's not easy for an event site to do this from scratch, but that's where advance planning and affiliation with other entities comes in.

Again, some events don't have live broadcasts at all, so it's not like it's a crime or anything. But there are so many better ways to go about this, and to provide sponsor value without this sort of method, that it's rather like an encounter with an animal thought extinct. As at least one of the organizers has a known preference for cash on hand over value, I shouldn't be so surprised.

The day's results, for what they're worth (£0.05!?):

GM Adams GM Van Wely 0.5 - 0.5
GM Short GM Werle 1 - 0
GM Howell GM Smeets 0.5 - 0.5
GM McShane GM Sokolov 0 - 1
GM Jones GM L’Ami 0 - 1

Watch out, Keene will be demanding your IP address in order to send you a bill!

Like hula-hooping, chess simply doesn't have much money in it. Never will. The trick is to figure this out at an early age and plan to make BIG MONEY elsewhere (if that's your thing.)

Chess had big money when the World Championship had credibility and major cities wanted (read were willing to pay) to host the title match


Chess offered enough money for 1 person to get semi-rich (before the late 1990s, when two million-dollar paydays no longer qualified as rich.) If you're not a world champ candidate I'd recommend another career.

(I still remember Finegold here whining the pittance he made despite in the U.S. top-10, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL.)

Lots of Class A players I've seen (and even Class B) have successful professional careers, probably make more than most GMs.

Some people don't play chess just to accumulate lots of money.

Chess simply does not generate enough interest to justify charging spectators an "entry fee". The now defunct New York Open once tried charging five bucks at the door; the result is that there was no one watchnig the games! Jose Cuchi - the organizer - abandoned the idea pretty quickly.

Virtually all big events, like Linares, Corus, etc. are the result of chess fans (Renteros, Kok, etc.) using their personal wealth (Linares) or power (Corus) to create these events. Chess is not - and has never been - a self-sustaining endeavour.

This easily explains why Kirsan has been able to kidnap FIDE, without the professional players being able to to do anything about it.

Chess can make money and have big payouts, the managers of events could have it a lot better than they do. It takes marketing, Tech Savy, and a good business model, usually events have one or two, not all three types of people. Mig takes shots to improve the tech savy-side, more big events would make more by highering people who have done it successfully before, instead we get amature event organizers. The major rule of success is butts in seats or eyeballs on screens, once you have that then you can find a way to make money.

A hard look at the economics of chess, and its (few) sources of cash:

1. Amateur Tournaments. [In the U.S., this cash supports organizer jobs, a few GMs, titled tutorers such as Jen Shahade, USCF staff, equipment makers.]
Total f/t chess jobs in the U.S. guesstimate: 500

2. Supertournaments.
Proven sources of supertournament funding:
(a) governments backing native star (e.g. Bulgaria & Topalov matches, India & Anand-Kamsky match)
(b) local governments trying for positive attention (e.g. Linares, Nanjing)
(c) mismanaged Third World governments wasting citizen money for illusory prestige (e.g. Kirsan/Kalmykia, Marcos/Fischer match)
(d) Corporate titans, e.g. Joop Von Oosteroom & Melody Amber
(e) Corporate sponsorship, (e.g. Intel Grand Prix, Corus)

A Harvard MBA could certainly squeeze out more than Kirsan, but it's still peanuts.

COnsider the USCF doesn't top 100,000 members in a country of 300m. Extrapolating to the world population of 7000m (using the U.S. as a reasonable upper bound), our market size is 2.3m.

This is a TINY MARKET. More people watch the average televised MLB game.

(Btw, notice nowhere does chess offer even a single upper-middle-class salary except to the World Champ. How's that payoff for a field with hundreds maybe thousands of geniuses?)

Maybe millions. According to us.

The potential chess market includes, other than paid members of national federations, corporate organizations, advertisers, governments and NGOs, as well as other individuals who would buy chess memorabilia and chess-related merchandise.And more.I hope your prognosis is wrong or we are doomed.

What a fun thread! I don't even know where to start.

1. I'm bubbling over to greet Irv. Hey Irv -- I missed you in McDonald Park today! You even would have met my wife (who the Adams brothers finally got to meet, after all these years!...Hmm, last I heard, Ken and Mark weren't on speaking terms with each other. Then I walk up and there they are playing blitz against one another. I didn't even recognize them, espcially Mark without his hair).

2. Next up is Luke. Lurking, I've seen much of the intense invective against (and some by) him in many other threads.

But how will his critics explain this one? Luke just made what's probably the best comment I've ever seen in my 5 solid years of reading the Dirt!

3. Now to the substance. Irv's remarks are well taken. (But some of the more extreme conclusions I've seen him draw elsewhere don't really follow.)

4. Jim is basically expressing what had been the Susan Polgar / Paul Truong point of view (not accusing him of being a follower of theirs, but basically it's the remedy they had put forward - "highlighting people who have done it successfully before" - only they really hadn't). Good luck with that.

5. Finally there is hcl. Good example of what happens whenever non-Americans try to think/write about America. "Total full-time chess jobs in the US: 500." Try Brooklyn: I'd guess there are close to 500 full-time chess jobs in Brooklyn alone. If you count public-school chess teachers and the staffs of organizations like Chess in the Schools.

Yeah, I know most of the anti-chess folk don't like to count full-time chess teachers as being "employed" in chess. [Troll deleted. Ogres welcome. -Mig] So, feel free to exclude the teachers if you wish. Then you can go on believing no one makes a living from chess - a belief that evidently is very important to holding your fragile egos in one piece.

(Note: I live in Brooklyn. Not that knowing that will stop any of you know-it-alls who live in Surrey or Vlissingen or St. Petersburg or Caracas, from arguing with me about what's happening in chess in Brooklyn, or elsewhere in America....)

If my above remarks imply that I think hcl is anti-American, no that's not my intent. Actually what I think is so great is his remarks reveal the love-hate relationship so many have with America. By saying only the World Champ makes a "upper-middle class salary" (sic: he meant income not salary), hcl seems to be suggesting he thinks $1 million or so is the lower bound of a "upper-middle class salary" in America. That's pretty funny: even on Wall Street a $1 million income is well above "upper-middle class."

Finally, hcl's method of estimating the "chess market" by extrapolating USCF membership to the world population, is perhaps the most clueless remark of all. Hey hcl: how's about you generate for us an estimate of the world market for beer based on the number of pubs you count in Iran or Saudi Arabia?

What, those countries' populations are too small to make a meaningful sample? Okay then, let's try a big country: India. Estimate the global market for beef, by extrapolating from the per capita beef consumption in India!

@Jon Jacobs

1. I'm often just north in Queens, though no longer active tourney-wise. (Incidentally very impressed with scholastic chess in past decade or so, congrats to the USCF or whoever's responsible.)

2. One could objectively measure the total value-added of the Chess Economy - its share of U.S. GDP - using standard national accounting methods.

3. As to the number of pro chessplayers in the U.S., how about FIVE? I ccouldn't even name five f/t chessplayers. How about ZERO? Other than college-age kids goofing around, ZERO. Adults usually scrape by a few years then disappear.

4. A world champs gets two sure-fire 1-million-dollar paydays: upwards, and downwards. Divide that $2,000,000 by 45 years (age 20 to 65) equals 44K. So let's say the Champ makes $200,000 a year otherwise, for an average of $244,000. Good money, but upper-middle-class.

The Staunton organisers fight back. Did someone just call us all termites? :)

"Predictably enough, there have been a few termitic tantrums about the derisory £5 charge being made to view the games, but given that the provision of live game relays is costing the tournament several thousands of pounds, it seems only reasonable that those who use this service should make some contribution to its cost. Indeed, in the week when the world's largest news media group announced that it intends to start charging for online news content, it would appear that the days of everything on the net being provided for free are numbered, and hallelujah to that. Of course, we at the Staunton Memorial always like to be at the cutting edge of new developments, and are once again proud to be so on this occasion!"


Taking Murdoch as your example is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

Jon wrote:

"Hey Irv -- I missed you in McDonald Park today! You even would have met my wife (who the Adams brothers finally got to meet, after all these years!...Hmm, last I heard, Ken and Mark weren't on speaking terms with each other. Then I walk up and there they are playing blitz against one another. I didn't even recognize them, espcially Mark without his hair)"

Hi, Jon!

Hopefully we'll meet before the summer is over. I haven't seen the Adams brothers in a few months. Hope all's well with them.

"...given that the provision of live game relays is costing the tournament several thousands of pounds..."

Someone is being overpaid.

World Champ makes only $200K a year plus to $1m paydays over entire career (per hcl)?

That's a factual question that Mig is best qualified to settle (far better qualified than either hcl or I, probably better qualified than any other Dirt reader, for that matter).

Just from a casual read of the news, I've seen Topalov and Kramnik each take $250k-plus paydays (some much larger) a few times in the past 5 years alone. Each has been a top-10 player since what, early 1990s? Again, Mig would be the best judge of this, but it seems each has earned at least a few million in match/tournament prizes alone, in the past 15 years or so. That excludes their income from product endorsements, appearance fees (obviously they're each paid $10k-plus, over and above expenses, any time they set foot within a mile of a chess event), any government subsidies, writing/commenting/teaching (I'm sure they have some paid deals for the first two, though not sure WCs give private lessons - maybe some form of group lessons though).

And both men are in their early 30s. That means their best earning years chess-wise may be still ahead of them. Still, if you're going to average the income over a long period (per hcl's method), over the past 15 years any realistic estimate for Topalov and Kramnik's annual average must be much closer to $500k than hcl's 244k. Maybe closer to $750k. The latter exceed the mean (let alone the median) income for employees of Goldman Sachs. In a GOOD year.

Ditto for Anand. And I don't think anyone will dare argue Kasparov averaged less than $750k during his active years; he is widely acknowledged to have become rich (not just semi-rich) from chess.

Even Nakamura seems to have notched well over $100k in each of the past 2 or 3 years, despite several formidable obstacles:
1) Not a full-time chess pro (he is, or was, a full-time college student)
2) Never close to World Top 10
3) American

And what of Karpov? True, his best years preceded the free market in chess (i.e. pre-1990 the world chess economy was controlled by Soviet bureaucrats, as marginal price-setter). But since his decline he's also been more commercial than most current or former top players - selling his image and name much as Picasso is said to have sold his signature during his own declining years. So an estimate of Karpov's chess income would be interesting.

Here's a more objective assessment than hcl's: That $244k figure may be reasonable for expected chess income of anyone in World Top 10 or Top 20. World Champ's (i.e., top 2 or 3) chess income is a multiple of that.

"...it would appear that the days of everything on the net being provided for free are numbered, and hallelujah to that. Of course, we at the Staunton Memorial always like to be at the cutting edge of new developments, and are once again proud to be so on this occasion!"

Ahh, brilliant :) As for calling critics "termites", that tells me Schiller wrote it.

"Several thousand pounds"? Are we supposed to believe this?! I suggest that, just like with Dortmund or other tournaments who tried this move in the past, some professional site (ICC-Playchess-Chessdom etc.) pay the fee and then relay the games for free for the general audience.
Let Mr. Keene and his gang file one more lawsuit (they surely must have plenty on their hands), but in the meantime they'll be exposed to ridicule and may realize that, on the Internet, if you want to earn money you should try to gain the community's respect, not provoke it in such a childish way.
Obviously £5 is not a huge amount of money, but for many people - including myself - it's a matter of principle not to pay an organizer who wants to charge me what the rest of the world is quite willing to offer for free.

Did you nincompoops really just introduce B**thers into a recent and ongoing thread? Go troll somewhere else. I'm getting out my hatchet. And keeping it out for a few days, so you've been warned.

Chessplayers can make a pretty good living if they work their butts off giving exhibitions, running from league to league, starting or working in a school and giving camps, writing articles, giving lessons, etc. Note that being a top player, or even a GM, isn't required for just about any of that. Only the elite substantially enhance this income by actually playing, either by prize money, league salaries, or appearance fees. They also get conditions, which is important (and why players often complain about what seems like small potatoes) when travel, hotel, and food make up a very steep bill over the course of a year. Even if you mostly stick to trains and two-star hotels and buddy up, it's expensive. And you're usually still paying rent back home, of course.

Because it's very much a system in which you only earn as much as you want to work, there's no coherent way to talk about average earnings. And because expenses are such a big part of it you also have to talk net not gross. The #40 might make double what the #20 made last year simply because he's single and can stay on the road full time, or because he's from a good chess country and gets lucrative exhibitions close to home, etc. And you definitely have a few outside the top 100 who write well and frequently, have worked to set up networks of students or schools, that sort of thing. There are a lot of people making a living from chess. There aren't many people making a living only playing chess.

Even if we include simuls as playing, there are few if any outside the top 60 who could claim to make a living only from those, league salaries, appearance fees, and prizes. Note that cost of living is very low in some Eastern European countries, so if you live there but make euros you can stretch them quite far. But I'd be startled to find more than two dozen players grossing more than 100,000 euros per year solely from playing (including simuls). I'd make a bet that you could find a dozen GMs working in chess but barely playing who earn more than anyone outside the top 10 makes just playing.

This sweat of the brow model continues up to #1 and world champs, just on a different scale that allows them a lot more free time and the ability to only take the invitations and projects they want. It's certainly not an elite gravy train, since keeping your rating high enough isn't as easy as it looks. But obviously once you make the Grand Slam level and put yourself in position to get prizes and appearance fees in the five digits, sponsorships, and much better money for exhibitions, it's a different lifestyle. A top 20 player with a good international reputation (and/or local following) can pull 10-20K for one day of activities with a simul and signing.

Of course opportunities aren't limitless and there's always another guy who will do it for less. This is why I always talk about how important schmoozing is, for better of for worse. When Nakamura didn't show up for the Ordix prize ceremony and autograph sessions, for example, I shook my head. He later told me he smoothed things over with Schmidt, the organizer, and said he thought he would be out of the prizes so didn't come. That was good to hear, because even if you get to the very top and people can't ignore you, being sociable will get you at least the opportunity to make a lot more money.

Not just from playing, mind you. Just notice that at most big events there are a few simuls before, during, and after, often involving the players in the tournament. There are fees there, so note who is giving them. Some players can't be bothered. They enjoy their rest, don't enjoy simuls, don't need the money, whatever. Again, that's why there's no linear plot of how much different players of different strengths earn.

The social aspect also becomes more important as the players get older and, as their ratings fall, can no longer support themselves just from playing. It's all but essential to have good contacts and be on good terms if you want to stay in the biz as a commentator, author, teacher, etc. Not much of a retirement plan for GMs!

Round 3 - though listed as round 2 on the website, and yesterday the download link for round 2 games led to round 1 games... they really need to work a bit harder for their money! :)


GM Adams GM Smeets 0 - 1
GM Short GM Sokolov 1 - 0
GM Howell GM L’Ami 0.5 - 0.5
GM McShane GM Van Wely 1 - 0
GM Jones GM Werle 0.5 - 0.5

The tournament seems pretty interesting, at least. Short's on a roll - and has a real chance of getting back to being the no. 1 rated English player after Adams' loss today.

We'll be safe as long as we don't say the b - word. I promise I won't.

However, if he's after idiots in general, look out! Thomas, chesshire cat, Luke, Manu, stendec, greg koster, noyb, Theorist, mishanp, acirce…wow, the list is endless. We could all be hatcheted.

The position of Van Wely's queen against McShane after white's move 14 is a thing of wonder! Well worth the download: http://howardstaunton.com/hsmt2009/PGN_Download.html

Nice, thanks mishanp. If they're going to start posting games promptly I may have to pay attention to the event!

Btw, broadcasting live games is fairly expensive not because of the bandwidth and web space, which are both dirt cheap these days. But the sensory boards are expensive and hiring someone with the expertise to use them and connect them isn't always easy. It's significantly more complicated to do that than post html results and pgn and commentary with diagrams. So while you have the sunk costs of the electronic boards (which break down regularly) and software, which you should be able to use for years, the attendant expenses could definitely rise to thousands of pounds. In other words, as hard as it may be to believe from something emanating from the vicinity of Keene, that part is true.

That's why my point is about how to get your value's worth from the live broadcast instead of trying to recoup a few bucks. Sponsors want value and you have to translate that into cash the best you can. One fairly minor event trying to sell online tickets isn't going to be it. Free live coverage is one of the things, perhaps the main thing, you have to have to draw significant traffic. What matters is how well you sell that traffic to sponsors and advertisers.

Thank-you for clipping the b-- thread!


OK, apparently it was Giddins. I was reminded about this rant, among other things (Edward Winter has also received the "termite" label): http://www.chess.com/article/view/staunton-memorial-behind-the-scenes (starting at "But will it? I hope so. The foundations of the event are, however, being undermined by a tiny minority of “termites” ...")

Even trolling is something that requires some refinement. If you want to draw people's ire it's usually more sucessful if you attempt to imply rather than shout out the insult.
Lately the volume has increased from an annoying hiss to megaphone proportions. One considers the possibility of imminent mental crisis/collapse.
In my area, one can make a few bucks coaching kids, especially if you organize it with the schools. The non-chess savvy parents will usually fork out, being somewhat in awe of chess as a kind of genius activity. They won't know anything of the credentials of the coach, of course, they just assume he's some kind of genius himself.
Mind you I never tried coaching myself-consider it unethical cos I'm too weak (1900).
But I know at least one guy whose sole income is derived from chessic activities, and he gets by. His rating is around 1600. So, any of you hit by the recession.... :)
Be interested to hear about other weak players you know who do this stuff full-time.

"But I know at least one guy whose sole income is derived from chessic activities, and he gets by. His rating is around 1600."

Pretty good. Does he have a car? Own a house?

Yes and yes.

The average chess professional (IM and above) does not have a way to make chess into a career. Even top-10 players will not have much left after their (5-10?) peak years are over.

Yes, there are exceptional players like Kasparov, Karpov, Kramnik, etc., who must have made a lot of money from their chess. They fully deserve it; but they are the exception. The rule is Elvhest, Susan & Judith Polgar, Mecking, Yudasin, Epishin, Georgiev, Salov, Timman, Speelman, Seirawan, Short, Miles, Lubojevic, Portisch, Morozevich, Ponomariov, Kamski, Benko, Bacrot, Karjakin, etc. They will probably average far less than $50K/year over a 25-year career.

And I'm just mentioning fairly well-known names, top-20 people -. The under-2600 crowd is struggling to break even.

In fact, it would be much easier and faster to mention the handful of players averaging $100K/year or more over any 20 year span. I'm pretty sure there is not a dozen of them in the entire history of the game. Hint: Fischer is not part of this group (but he could have been, if he had been a bit more "normal").

Irv, it's like golf or skiing or tennis or music...very, very difficult to get good enough to make a living at it performing, but teaching is a different matter. There any many, many people who can teach very well but are no where near performing at a professional level. And in chess, a 1600 player who is good with kids and business skills should be able to make a living bringing kids from 450 Elo 4th graders to Class A 9th graders.

Uff Da wrote:

"There any many, many people who can teach very well but are no where near performing at a professional level. And in chess, a 1600 player who is good with kids and business skills should be able to make a living bringing kids from 450 Elo 4th graders to Class A 9th graders."

Sorry, Uff. That's a myth perpetuated in good faith. If it were not a myth, we would all know of a few such people, but in my many years playing chess and frequenting chess clubs (always as a pure amateur!), I have never me anyone who made a decent living teaching chess. Even in a big city like New York.

I personally know at least 2 guys who earn well over $100k / yr from givin private chess lessons alone. Both are rated around 2200, but haven't played in years, if not decades (so would probably have trouble maintaining a 2200 rating in practice at present - as one of them admitted to me).

They don't even own for-profit chess-teaching organizations.

Others, who do own and operate substantial chess-teaching organizations and employ others to do do the actual teaching - in the NY area, Sunil Weeramantry and Mark Kurtzman immediately come to mind - earn what appear to be sizable incomes too, from my outside perspective. (i.e., I have no direct knowledge of what they make.) Those two are also around 2200, by the way.

And that's not even counting Chess in the Schools, which employs dozens of staffers plus part-time and full-time teachers. IM Yuri Lapshun was an employee and probably still is, and earned a salary sufficient to live on from that alone - and of course, any prize money and other chess income he earned (Yuri has had at least 2 chess books published in the past 18 months that I know of) would be in addition to that salary.

I'm told one of the above-named outfits, whose clientele is concentrated in an especially well-heeled suburban region, is desperate for teachers. They take on 1600s and START them at $40 per hour to teach private or group lessons. (I don't recall just when I heard this. If it was over a year ago, then it's possible the economy has since put a dent in this business...but I doubt it. The outfit has been around for many years, and has done nothing but grow.)

Thanks, Irv, for justifying the caveat I stated about you higher up in this thread (the reference to your "extreme conclusions").

You live in New York and you never met Elizabeth Vicary (rated in the 2100s)? Or better yet, Bruce Pandolfini?

Gotta wonder where you've been...

I'll add a couple others who earn a living from chess: Macauley Peterson. Jennifer Shahade. And one Michael Greengard.

Of all the people mentioned or alluded to in this comment and my previous one, only Lapshun is rated above 2400. (Jen Shahade, an IM, was once over 2400 but isn't now.)

Now, if you define a "decent" living as over $250k, or even $100k, some of the above will fall out. Few Americans beyond Wall Street would endorse your definition, however; most of us, myself included, would be more than happy to place in the top 15% or so for household income in this rich country of ours.

Irv, I live in an area that is in the chess backwaters of USA, but I know several people (Elo approx 2200, 1600, and 1500) who make a living teaching chess in camps, lessons, and clubs and hosting tourneys. They are not great players themselves, but they still have an enormous amount of knowledge to teach to children. They do it by virtue of their own gumption and initiative and not by getting a salaried job with "Chess Teachers, Inc."

Re chesshire's comment: "I never tried coaching myself-consider it unethical cos I'm too weak (1900)." Cripes. You don't think you would have anything to teach the 99.99% of kids rated below 2000??

Pretty impressive.

C'mon, Jon, use a bit of common sense: if the money you claim were there, Lapshun, Yudasin, Elvhest and many other very strong players and many others would not be religiously playing in the NY Masters (when it was alive) for US$200 First Prize.

Of all the people you mention (without any proof whatsoever on your part), the only one who stands a chance of having NETTED over $100K/year more than once is Bruce Pandolfini.

As for Chess in the Schools and its touted $40/hour, yes it seems to be true, but the poor saps who got jobs with them were expected to work 4-7 hours per week! The cost and time invested in going to different places for one or two hours of work often diluted their earning to about $15, and that's the reason nobody held the "job" for long.

Finally, I would advise you to be careful about not making it too personal with your comments about me...it's not a good idea.

Watching ELvhest and Yudasin as such (two former world top-10 players) reminds me of 17yo beauty cum 46yo burnt-out whore. Hate to use grade-school lingo, but it's SAD.

Getting a bit touchy, aren't we, Irv? Reviewing our interchange on this thread, it's highly cordial by Dirt standards - especially for people who are debating a point. Perhaps your skin is too thin to be comfortable with this milieu...

Instead of asking me for proof, how about being less careless with the "facts" you supply? Took 13 seconds to determine that 1st prize in the final 2 installments of (weekly) NY Masters, in early 2005, were $400 and $420 respectively. Current (monthly) St. John's Masters has $300 guaranteed 1st. But what's a 50%-100% error between pals like us? Keep the change...

Anyway it's just 4 hours on a Tuesday night. Nothing that interferes with other means of income, in other words. You wouldn't want to go down the road of claiming that was Yudasin's SOLE chess income, rather than a supplement to his chess income. I recall some fool doggedly making that argument here a few years ago - during a week that was ironically bracketed by Yudasin winning 5-figure and 4-figure prizes.

Yudasin has his own chess teaching organization, too. In fact the father of a classmate of my daughter works for him, for pay (or did, as of 3 years ago. I don't know if Yudasin still employs the man, who is rated around 2000, or how many hours per week the guy had worked, which is why I didn't even bother to mention it earlier).

Ditto for Lapshun. I believe he is still on staff at CITS. And I'll repeat, Irv, that the evening tournaments don't conflict with his day-job, so why wouldn't he compete? It's additional income potential. I even heard a CITS salary figure from someone in position to know. It's higher than mine (I am employed full-time, unrelated to chess).

What's more, as a few others have pointed out in this thread, chess strength doesn't correlate very well with ability or desire to teach chess for a living. And it's probably NEGATIVELY correlated with the desire to work as an employee in a teaching organization where your boss is a fish. Recall that many GMs and IMs who are here now came of age in the Soviet Union, where a GM was like an NBA star over here. Imagine being in their shoes, then having to take orders from a 1600-player who happened to outrank you in the organization.

Hell, even I blew my stack at 2000-rated Shawn Smith last fall when he refused to pair me in round 1 at a FREE Central Park tournament run by CITS because I'd failed to observe the "even pre-registrants must arrive 1 hour before starting time" rule. And I don't have a norm-based title (nor even a norm, lol), and I'm less chess-obsessed than most chess folk (remember, I have a real job away from chess).

In other words, if you're suggesting that if there really, really were paid full-time jobs teaching chess, they'd all be occupied by struggling GMs - which I'm pretty sure is what you are suggesting - then your logic is really, really suspect.

To sum up my position, I recommend the Maxim Dlugy route for most (titled) ex-SOviets emigres: use your brains to get a real job. If not immediately employable upon arrival in NYC enter a grad school (NYU, Columbia, or even just CUNY), say econ or math, which you'll ace and land $100,000 to $150,000 starter job on Wall Street (where the real Hustle is) and go for your millions/billions.

Leverage your IQ. You're better than us non-titled players, don't deserved to be laughed at here by us in five years' time, netting 25K a year in oddjobs.

Nice piece, thanks. But that was nearly 20 years ago and chess in schools has taken off. The same sort of thing would have been written about football (soccer) professionals and coaches 25 years ago in the USA. Now soccer for kids is a massive industry even though the pro sport still hasn't really taken off.

There are a lot of GMs who make, or would make, terrible teachers and are terrible at doing the networking, Rolodex-building, and entrepreneurial development necessary to earn well at coaching. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Rating snobs who think only GMs can (or should) coach are a tiny minority, usual club players who worship titles and don't understand that what most people want to do is get better at chess and have fun.

That a vast majority of people, especially kids, can do this with a coach with only a few years experience and perhaps no rating at all is simply a fact. And if that person is a good teacher, a warm personality, and works hard, he deserves to make all the money he makes, and if he's a better teacher than a GM why shouldn't he make more money? The sad part is how little the pros make doing the pro thing, the playing. Great soccer coaches don't make the money the pro soccer players make, so it might seem a little skewed in chess. But those are entirely separate issues.

I'm not saying it's impossible you'll have a few bozos trying to teach over their heads and students who suffer for it, but that's true with teachers in any field and rating is certainly no guarantee of avoiding that. There are plenty of great physicists who can't teach physics and great writers who can't teach composition. And you have many strong chessplayers who can't write, or teach, or whatever else might be desired. If you're a 2300 looking to make GM some day, sure, a GM coach makes a lot of sense. But if you're a kid or a novice just looking to improve and not necessarily be the next Fischer, a coach who feels your pain and can explain things, inspire you, and prepare materials on your level is going to be a hell of a lot more useful and enjoyable.

I've spent a long time reading, editing, and accepting or rejecting chess materials, as well as worked on curricula and listening to feedback from literally thousands of readers and students not my own in classes and one-on-one. Elo is a really bad indicator of what works.

Getting back to the $$, of course a GM title or high rating will help you get students, book deals, etc. It provides a degree of credibility and most chess books and DVDs are directed at the sort of aspirational enthusiast who worships at the Elo altar, not in the humble church of real improvement. Again, sometimes you can get both in one package -- a strong GM who is also a good writer and instructor (say, Nunn) or a super-GM who is an entertaining presence on a DVD. But wow, sometimes those guys with titles really churn out some garbage!

Mig wrote:

"Nice piece, thanks. But that was nearly 20 years ago and chess in schools has taken off."

The opportunities for chess professionals are not much brighter today than they were 20 years ago. There is still a very limited pool of money and way too many players fighting for a tiny piece of the microscopic pie.

Think about it (no offense intended): you're still in need of soliciting PayPal donations for your site - in spite of your fairly successful career as a "teacher", blogger, Kasparov aide, etc. How much money is there to be made in chess?

Don't you understand that this is correct time to get the loan, which will make your dreams come true.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 8, 2009 5:40 PM.

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