Wolfgang Unzicker was a German GM, rated about 2550 and worked as a judge. In the sense of holding down a job while playing, he was an "amateur" player.

So was Unzicker, a GM in the 70's, the last amateur GM?

  • 2
    Most GM's have a "real" job, very few make their living solely from chess.
    – Arlen
    Jul 12, 2019 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


The economist Ken Rogoff (b. 1953) achieved the GM title in 1978, but was never a "professional" chess player. Rogoff is currently a professor of economics at Harvard University.

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    In the absence of better answers that are true "amateur" GMs I am going to tick this. Jul 1, 2019 at 7:39

So in the sense of holding down a job while playing he was an "amateur" player.

So was Unzicker, a GM in the 70's, the last amateur GM?

No. Here are 4 current British "amateur" grandmasters.

  • English GM Matthew Turner is a teacher at Millfield School in Somerset.
  • English GM Matthew Sadler is a computer consultant in the Netherlands.
  • English GM Luke McShane (currently on 4/7 in the Netanya Masters) is a financial trader in London
  • Scottish GM Dr. Jonathan Rowson is Director of the Social Brain Centre at the Royal Society of Arts in London

There are plenty of GMs that do not play professionally, e.g. GM Luke McShane is a financial trader, GM Hou Yifan is a Rhodes scholar. So if your definition of "amateur" is holding down a job while playing occasionally, Wolfgang Unzicker certainly was not the last amateur GM.

  • But I think you have fallen into a subtle trap there. They are GMs whose broad intent is to play chess only. Or to put it another way, their life is variable; Hou Yifan may come back after she does her studies. Jun 30, 2019 at 12:37
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    @athornton I don't see how that's relevant. They're holding down a job while playing, making them amateurs.
    – Allure
    Jun 30, 2019 at 12:42
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    Also Georg Meier, youtube.com/watch?v=-NSzG0BGfO8 (1:45).
    – Akavall
    Jul 1, 2019 at 2:52
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    I think the more important question is, did they ever play professionally? Do they hold other jobs because chess was never anything more than a serious hobby, or simply because professional chess didn't pay the bills? Jul 1, 2019 at 9:15
  • 2
    If that's what the OP wants to ask, he/she should clarify that in the question.
    – Allure
    Jul 1, 2019 at 9:16

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