I am at the age of 32 and my current rating is 1600. Is it too late to be professional in chess? I love chess from my whole heart, what should I do?


5 Answers 5


Sorry to put this bluntly, but you have absolutely no chance whatsoever of becoming a professional player if you are rated only 1600 at age 32. This is not a realistic ambition. People improving from 1600 to grandmaster level in their 30s and beyond is something that simply never happens. It's very rare to reach grandmaster level if you are only 1600 at the age of 18, never mind 32.


Assuming you want to be paid enough to live I am afraid it IS too late. Younger minds are easier to be taught. You develop much faster when you're younger. But hey, that's a good news! Professional chess players spent long years, lots of money for coaches, tournaments etc. Now, 99% of them earn pennies - how frustrating!

This is a very brutal truth, chess is a beautiful game that requires a lot of work, austerity, time and in return there's... the satisfaction. I am very happy that I got to know chess and dedicated my young years to it. Chess taught me really a lot. But I would advice against dedicating the whole life (professional).

However, if you want to make money with chess, in my humble opinion, the best way is to teach kids - it doesn't require that much chess skill, rather more of a pedagogical attitude. I am pretty sure you are able to do that.


Most chess "professionals" teach. You might be qualified to teach kids the rules. There are plenty of bad chess players that make a living teaching kids. So, if you go that route you can work on your game and scrape a living teaching. And maybe one day you might actually be qualified to teach, but you are unlikely to even make master.

  • Unlikely to even make master? I like the style of your answer. I like the way you think, but are the prospects actually that poor? (I ask for a personal reason, because I happen to have nonchess credentials similar to those of the typical chess master, but never tried to improve my chess to such a high level because, well, there is an opportunity cost, isn't there? I would rather study a book on, say, the mathematics of special functions than a book on QGA. Now in my 50s, I accept that I am too old to become an IM even if I tried, but OP is only 32. This is why I ask.)
    – thb
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 13:41
  • 1
    If you look at the percentile that masters fall in (99.98%), they are in the top 0.02% of players. Of course it is possible to achieve this at most ages, but a lot of stars need to line up when you are 32. Besides a love for the game, you need talent, dedication and a lot of time. Also, there is the sporting aspect of the game that requires physical fitness... "unlikely".
    – Ywapom
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:39
  • I suspect that you are right. Indeed, I had not known that masters were so extremely elite: 0.02%! (Interesting. I had always vaguely, or at any rate vainly, supposed that I might have made IM if that had been a goal of mine, but 0.02%? That is too elite. You remind me that I am not that smart. It is a good reminder. The illumination is appreciated.)
    – thb
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 23:08

If you mean "professional" as "making a living" (earning money) -- your chances are quite slim. You need to hold a title (GM, IM, WM, CM, etc) to play money-earning tournaments or to be considered as a professional chess coach.

Besides that, since the invention of the chess computers, the chess (as a game) is currently in decline, less interest from the people, less money involved, etc. You'll be fighting for your chance with the already established people and there are just too many of them to fill the available spots.

What should you do? -- Just have fun. Learn to play better, play with people, enjoy chess as much as you can. It's just a game after all =)

  • thank you sir.But what is the preparation to hold a title(GM IM WM CM) Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 7:07
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    To be a titled player you need to have some ELO rating, norms and stuff. That requires skill which requires time and money. To be GM/IM very long road. To be CM - I'd guess like 3-4 years and you're there. But CM is nothing.
    – Pijotrek
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 7:17
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    If you're 10 and gifted, you may get to IM title in a few years. After 30 things tend to take longer. I would say, as a baseline, you need to invest about 10k hours into chess (or anything else, for that matter) before getting any recognition.
    – lenik
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 8:41
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    "the chess (as a game) is currently in decline, less interest from the people, less money involved" -> source needed !
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 14:27
  • @Pijotrek: saying 3-4 years is misleading, the vast majority of chess players never reach that level in their lives. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 10:04

I'm kind of with the others that have stated it is too late. Only because of the examples of the top players and how basic research shows how long they've been playing and the talent they've shown their entire career in chess. They are the examples of what it takes so to put it bluntly, if you aren't on that same path then there's a strong chance that when you are in your 30's and your not there, may not happen. Becoming a teacher of chess is probably more obtainable goal.

Think of how the game has changed. You have to be prepared for the increased difficulty in the game due to chess engines and AI.

Here are some areas I think are good to consider for your own life and your ability to accomplish them.

  1. Become a FIDE member
  2. Score the required norms in FIDE registered tournaments and the norms can be defined by the specific tournament so you may not know what that "norm" is until the tournament.
  3. Pay for the expenses of those tournaments. Entry fees, lodging, food, transportation.
  4. Reach the 2500 rating to become a grand master. The money that takes to jump from where you are at, my prediction could be steep, specifically with preparation so you can beat the competition out there because you are not the only one dreaming to become a professional chess player. A 900 rating jump is not a mole hill to climb in the world of chess. The complete expenses of the tournaments to get your rating up. The chances are low that you going to get much return financially in the process in the beginning.
  5. The personal time that is needed to invest into getting to that point, do you have? Do you have obligations in your life that are more important than chess? Most people do.

Not meaning to squash your dreams but there's quite a bit to take in to become a professional chess player.

There's no shame in being in your 30's and a rating of 1600 or teaching chess to people. You never know, you could be a part of the process for someone else to be one of the top ranked players.

However if you choose to seek becoming a professional player I do hope the best. Here's a link to FIDE's for Title Regulation effective July 1st of 2017 to give you more detailed answers.


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