Chess and Money – Can Chess Even Be a Career?
For the vast majority of people, chess is as much a hobby as it is a souce of joy. But for some people, it can also be a source of income. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which chess players can make money through their love of the game. From tournament prizes to teaching and coaching opportunities, there are many options for those who want to turn their passion for chess into a career. We’ll also discuss the challenges and considerations involved in making a living as a chess player, and provide tips and resources for those who are interested in pursuing this path. Let’s dive right in!
Best Ways To Make Money With Chess
Whether you’re a seasoned chess player looking to make a career out of your hobby, or simply curious about the financial possibilities of the game, we’re going to cover the top 15 ways to make money with chess. Let’s go:
1. Become a Professional Chess Player
Becoming a professional chess player can be a lucrative career if you are able to achieve a very high level of skill in the game.
Professional chess players can compete in tournaments and competitions for prize money. The amount of prize money available can vary depending on the tournament, but top players can earn significant amounts of money from their tournament winnings. In addition to that professional chess players often secure sponsorship deals with companies that are interested in promoting their products or services through the player’s image and reputation.
But you don’t have to be a Super GM to make some decent cash by playing chess tournaments. Most (small) cities often host open chess tournaments with an entry fee and price money. The level of play is usually way lower, as you might only encounter a handful of titled players.
2. Start a Chess Youtube Channel
With the rise of online chess, a lot of chess content creators – especially Youtubers – have seen significant growth to the point where a lot of them make a living from creating chess content online. There is no way why you couldn’t do the same.
It is possible to make money by creating a chess YouTube channel because YouTube allows creators to monetize their videos through the YouTube Partner Program. This program enables creators to earn a share of the revenue generated from ads that are shown on their videos. By creating high-quality content that attracts and engages a large audience, a chess YouTube channel can potentially earn significant amounts of money from ads. Additionally, chess YouTube channels can generate revenue by offering paid content or services to their audience. This might include things like premium instructional videos, one-on-one coaching, or access to exclusive content or events.
But: Youtube is a competitive business, saturated with thousands of creators. You need to find a way to stand out in order to grow an audience!
3. Sell Chess-Themed Merchandise
One way to make a career by selling chess-themed merchandise is to first identify a target market of chess enthusiasts. This can be done by conducting market research and identifying potential customers through online communities, chess clubs, and other sources. Next, you can create a website or online store to sell your merchandise, or partner with existing retailers to distribute your products.
It’s important to offer a unique selection of high-quality products that will appeal to your target market. To promote your products, you can use a variety of marketing techniques such as social media, online advertising, and email marketing. As your business grows, you can continue to expand your product line and reach new customers to continue building your career in this field.
Of course, you can always start slow and gauge demand by selling directly to friends and family or chess clubs in the area. If you want to scale up the operation, you can use services like Teezily to fulfill hundreds of orders.
4. Become a Chess Streamer
Similar to becoming a chess Youtuber, you can start streaming yourself playing chess on services like Twitch. Start streaming your chess games and engaging with your audience by providing commentary, answering questions, and interacting with viewers.
To make money, you can monetize your streams by enabling ads, accepting donations from viewers, and offering paid subscriptions to access exclusive content. As you build a loyal audience, you can also generate revenue by selling chess-themed merchandise (see above) or partnering with sponsors. To grow your audience and increase your revenue, you can use a variety of marketing and promotion techniques such as social media, online advertising, and collaboration with other streamers. As your channel grows, you can continue to provide high-quality content and engage with your audience to build a successful career as a chess streamer on Twitch.
5. Start a Chess Blog
As a chess blog ourselves, we have to urge you not to create one. You’re going to run us out of business… Just kidding of course! Creating a chess blog is an amazing way to use your passion for chess to make it a career.
There are already tons of really, really good chess blogs, but there is always room for more! You just have to find a way to improve on the already existing content. You could do this by focusing on specific chess strategies, chess news and events, or even personal stories about your own experiences with chess. To grow your chess blog, I would suggest reading up on SEO or use social media (like Instagram, TikTok or Twitter) to build an grow your audience.
When it comes to monetization there are almost unlimited possibilites. You can start running ads with Google Adsense, use affiliate marketing or offer paid services in the form of coaching or exclusive content.
6. Become a Chess Arbiter
To make money as a chess arbiter with FIDE, you can first become certified by taking the FIDE Arbiters’ Seminar and passing the corresponding examination. Once certified, you can apply to serve as an arbiter at chess tournaments organized by FIDE or its affiliated national chess federations. As an arbiter, you would be responsible for enforcing the rules of the game and ensuring that tournaments run smoothly. To be selected for a tournament, you may need to have experience as an arbiter and a good reputation within the chess community. Tournament organizers typically pay arbiters a fee for their services, which can be a source of income. We’ve already broken down the salary/income of chess arbiters in an article on Chessily if you’re interested.
7. Offer Chess Coaching
If you’re an somewhat advanced player, offering chess coaching can be a great way to make chess your career (or at least generate some additional income).
Chess coaching can take a variety of forms, such as one-on-one lessons, group classes, online sessions, or a combination of these approaches. The main goal here is to help students learn and apply effective chess strategies, tactics, and techniques in order to become stronger players (usually by analysing games). Chess coaches may also provide guidance on topics such as tournament preparation, mental toughness, and studying chess openings and endgames.
To generate income, you can charge a fee for your coaching services based on factors such as your experience and reputation, the length of each lesson, and the number of students in a group.
If you’re an advanced player coaching total beginners, you can charge anywhere around 15-25$ an hour. If you’re a titled player (like Candidate Master or International Master), you can charge around 25-40$ an hour. If you’re a chess Grandmaster you can usually charge upwards of 50$ an hour, with the sky really being the limit (depending on your skill). On average, chess lessons by an adequate coach run around 25-35$ per hour of coaching. Those prices apply to one-on-one lessons, so be sure to adapt pricing if you’re teaching bigger groups of students.
You can start offering your services on freelance platforms like Fiverr to build an initial student base, after that I would suggest moving away from such platforms to avoid the fees.
8. Try Chess Hustling
Chess hustling refers to the practice of playing chess for money, you can often find chess hustlers set up chess boards in parks and open spaces with a lot of foot traffic. Since chess is a purely skill based game, chess hustling only really works if the hustler continously plays against weaker rated opponents. A chess hustler may use a variety of techniques to lure their opponents into betting on a game, such as pretending to be a weaker player than they actually are, or deliberately making mistakes to give the impression of being careless or unprepared. Once a bet has been placed, the hustler will often switch gears and play at their full strength, using their superior skill and knowledge to outmaneuver and defeat their opponent.
Now, if you want to try chess hustling to create income, obviously you need to be a quite strong player and be able to identify weaker players and lure them into betting on games with you. There is no shortcut to becoming a good hustler, which is why I wouldn’t recommend it as a reliable source of making money with chess. It is however very entertaining to watch on Youtube:
9. Apply For Chess Scholarships
A chess scholarship is a type of financial aid that is awarded to a student who is talented in chess and plans to continue playing the game at the collegiate level. So if that sounds like you, it might be worth having a look at some chess scholarships.
A chess scholarship can help motivated players by providing them with financial assistance to help cover the costs of college. This includes expenses such as tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. By relieving some of the financial burden of attending college, a chess scholarship can allow players to focus on their studies and their chess game without having to worry as much about paying for their education.
You can browse through some chess scholarships here: https://bold.org/scholarships/chess-scholarships/
10. Work in Chess Schools
A chess school is an educational institution that focuses on teaching the game of chess. Chess schools may offer a range of programs, including classes for beginners, intermediate players, and advanced players, as well as individualized instruction, tournaments, and other activities. They are always on the lookout for more chess teachers, which is why it is a great way to make some extra money following your love of chess.
Working in a chess school is very similar to offering chess coaching, however you are typically employed by the school, rather than being self-employed as a chess coach. This means a more stable income for you, as you don’t have to worry about finding new students.
11. Organize Your Own Chess Tournaments
To organize your own chess tournament, you will need to determine the format, choose a location and date, set rules and fees, recruit participants, and conduct the event according to your schedule. You should also set up the tournament location, keep track of the results, and determine the winners at the end of the event. As you might have guessed, that is definitely no easy job. But if done right, organizing your own chess tournament can be really fun and rewarded, as well as profitable.
Make sure your tournament is clearly marketed as a casual and fun tournament, rather than a professional one, so you don’t have to worry about ratings etc. A good way to make sure your tournament is casual enough is to have a theme. It might be wise to talk to a local chess club to see if they’re interested in participating in the organization, as they’re usually very experienced in doing so.
In terms of monetization – besides taking an entry fee – you can sell drinks, food and even chess-related goods (like chess boards, t-shirts or chess clocks) to the players and audience.
This is a very helpful video by USChess, explaining how to organize a chess tournament:
12. Become a Freelance Chess Writer
Becoming a freelance chess writer is similar to starting your own chess blog, except you’ll be working for publishing media within the chess world instead of starting everything on your own. Which means you’ll have to trade less freedom for a more stable income – a trade that might be worth it for some.
Established chess media companies are always looking for writers to cover the news and happenings in chess. A good way to look for jobs as a chess writer is on ChessTec’s joblist (you can find chess jobs in almost every category on there as well!). Or you hit up frown chess websites and news outlets and ask if they’re interested in hiring you.
13. Write a Chess Book and Publish It
You might think chess books are outdated in the age of internet chess. However, I disagree. Not only are they still a great way to learn and improve in chess, they’re also a good way to make some supplemental income. While you do need to be both a good writer (unless you go the ghostwriter route) and somewhat decent at chess, if you meet both criteria there is nothing stopping you from writing and publishing a chess book on your own.
One way to make money from publishing chess books is to sell them directly to customers through online marketplaces like Kindle publishing or your own website. Another option would be to partner with a book retailer or distributor who can help you reach a larger audience and sell your books in brick-and-mortar stores. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but I am not qualified enough to give you advice on which route to go. Maybe someone more experienced can hit me up at [email protected], so I can relay the information to all of you.
14. Invest in Chess Companies
To be frank, to make money by investing, you do need a certain amount of capital already available to you. But if you do, this could be an interesting way to make some money. Probably the most well-known public chess company is the PlayMagnus AS, founded 2013 by Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.
Typically, stock prices increase whenever a given company is successful and profitable. So if you believe a certain chess company might grow and produce more profit, you can participate by buying stock in the company. But: I want to urge you to be careful with your money. If you have never invested in stocks, please research extensively beforehand! This is not financial advice.
15. Create And Sell Chess-Themed Artwork
With Chess-themed artwork I mean any type of artwork that incorporates chess or chess pieces as a central theme or subject. This can include digital art, paintings, or even photographs that depict chess or chess pieces in some way. You really have to be creative here! Reddit user u/sdf for example creates and sells chess prints that depict famous openings.
You can find some good example of chess-inspired artwork on Etsy. Get inspired, don’t simply copy!
Wrapping up: Should You Make Chess Your Career?
Wow, that was probably the most exhaustive and comprehensive article ever written on Chessily. While it might not be a conventional career path, there is no reason you can’t earn a living with your passion for chess. We hope you’ve got some inspiration out of this guide. Feel free to contact us if you have any question or would like to add to the article!