How is the life of a professional chessplayer with ELO around 2500? I mean, someone who is no doubt strong, but hardly a top GM? How does he make a living these days, if he hasn't another job?

  • 8
    I don't think there are many, and they all do different things. Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 10:51
  • There are also people who got to 2500 for title purposes, but subsequently stop playing actively (especially if they become full-time trainers). As time goes by they only keep that rating in name, as they will find it harder and harder to hold their own against 2500-level opposition.
    – prusswan
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


I know a few GMs in 2500-2600 range who would be considered professional -> ie chess provides the primary means of earning income for them.

It is very hard work with wages not matching the effort/skill spent:

  • Being the primary player for medium club team (European/Middle East/Far East)
  • Teaching (preferably within said club as it guarantees steady supply of clients)
  • Being an personal assistant/coach to another player
  • Playing for hire for a stronger club in say Bundesliga lower boards
  • Actually getting some prize money in medium sized tournaments
  • Books provide a tiny bit of income, but mostly are used for name/brand building for the next item
  • Selling training coarses - again only a few can make a living from this
  • A growing but still insufficient means of income is streaming, a few personalities can pull it off
  • Playing in special norm tournaments, in Eastern Europe GMs get about 250-350Euros for a week long tournament, where IMs/FMs/untitled have to pay 100-300 Euros to compete for GM norms.

That said most GMs around 2500 have other means of living besides chess.

  • 1
    In your last bullet, is that 250-350Eur plus expenses? Otherwise, surely that's not profitable after you take into account travel, accommodation and meals? Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 15:29
  • 4
    @DavidRicherby It's not really profitable with or without expenses.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 15:50
  • 5
    @SmallChess It might not be enough profit to make a living but being paid beyond your expenses is literally the definition of profit. Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 16:05
  • 1
    Yes, that really is 250-350 Euros for a week's worth of playing serious chess (9 rounds ). That would be above minimum wage in most of Eastern Europe. I paid 150 Euros (as an FM) to play in these tournaments. so 7 candidates paying versus 3GMs getting paid.
    – Sint
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 18:16
  • That said most GMs around 2500 have other means of living beside chess. I don't think. In Sri lanka most top players (2000 to 2200) living just from chess... Coaching, organizing torments, etc Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 5:45

Australia has some grandmasters, but no top GM (2700+). The country's legenary GM, Ian Rogers, is a renowned chess journalist. You can see his chess reports all over the Internet.

The other grandmasters either have a job or actively make a living by coaching. GM Max Illingworth is a professional chess coach.

I don't think anybody in Australia is able to make a living by just playing chess, grandmaster or not.

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