Chess is booming! But not the way most think!
More and more young people are taking up chess. More and more schools offer chess, either as a school subject, or an after school activity. More and more countries support chess. The reason? Because of the incredible benefits chess can bring for young people.
But chess is not booming for professional players. 99.99% of the regular folks in the world have no idea who the top 20 professional chess players are. To make it worse, most chess governing bodies have no comprehension of the concept of creative marketing, proper PR, or clever promotion. On top of that, most professional players themselves are doing very little to help change the image and marketability of their own sport. A number of them cannot even put together a few coherent sentences.
There is a big problem with the ability to make a decent living for professional chess players. Here is my general estimation:
As of right now, the top guy, the #1 player in the world, Magnus Carlsen, is making millions each year. Then the next tier of players from 2 to 10 (depend of the month) is making a very good living. Many of them are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
After that, in the 11 to 20 range, most make a good living. Beyond the top 20, most will make less than an average good college grad make in America. If players are not consistently over 2700, with the exception of young up and coming stars, they will struggle financially unless they teach on the side.
I recently asked over 1,000 kids from various chess events I attended. Almost all of them have no idea who are the top chess players in the world. But almost all of them know who Bobby Fischer is.
Some players do not want $2 million dollar World Blitz and Rapid Championships to be held in Saudi Arabia. But no sane sponsor will invest $2 million for something they get very little in return. Chess governing bodies do not want to make chess more exciting and marketable. Most players do not want to invest in their time or effort to help their sport. So at the end, you reap what you sow!