How little is too little? What's the worth of GMs?


What is the value of a Grandmaster?

I have seen Grandmasters entering chess tournaments with no condition. I have seen Grandmasters getting $100,000 or more just to appear before making a single move. I have seen Grandmasters after 9-11 grueling rounds of competition not making a penny. I have seen Grandmasters earning hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) a year.

So what is the value of a Grandmaster?

I have seen Grandmasters writing chess books for no advances, or with good contracts, perhaps get $1,000-$2,000 advances. I have seen Grandmasters getting $20,000-$50,000 before typing the first word. I have seen Grandmasters writing very good books, and selling a few hundred copies, or on rare occasions, 1,000-2,000 copies. I have seen Grandmasters selling at least 20,000 copies for every chess books.

So again, what is the value of a Grandmaster?

I have seen Grandmasters teaching private lessons for $15-$20 an hour. I have seen Grandmasters charging $300-$500 an hour for private lessons, and I have also seen Grandmasters charging more than $1,000 an hour.

If you think that ratings or titles have something to do with it, not quite. I have seen Grandmasters who are well under 2500 making 5-10 times more than Grandmasters who are 200-300 points higher. I have seen Grandmasters who won big tournaments making way less than Grandmasters who have never won anything significant in their entire careers.

So what is the value of a Grandmaster, and how can one improve it?

The above is what I recently wrote. But this same topic came up as the winner of the 2017 European Blitz Championship (just concluded a few days ago), GM Sergei Zhigalko, earned 2,000 euros for 1st place. 2nd place player, GM Luke McShane, earned 1,000 euros, and GM Peter Michalik, earned 800 euros for 3rd place. The prize for 11th - 15th is 150 euros, and 16th - 20th is 100 euros.

There were about 1100 players participated in this prestigious event. After subtracting transportation cost, time, and other expenses, how many people will break even? I believe probably 90-95% of the players lost money. This is not an attack toward the organizers. This is not an attack toward the sponsors. This is a call for find a way to make chess more attractive, more marketable, and more valuable for sponsors and donors.

I make 3 times more than 1st prize every single week, and I am well underpaid. In addition to my earnings, I also raise between $1.5 - $2 million a year for my program and events.

The bottom line is if players devote years of training to become grandmasters, they should not be happy making less than what most average normal people make in other fields. Chess players are supposed to be smart, and are problem solvers. Why not solve this problem instead of accepting the status quo?

Comments (5)
No. 1-5

I only played in 1 tournament in the past 4 years because I simply could not afford it.


Thank u Susan for speaking out! I will move to Europe someday and only play there.


I played only one tournament in last 4 years because I simply can,t afford.


Finally someone raised these questions! We should boycott all events in USA unless they make it more affordable and reasonable. I don,t need your high prize money, I just want to participate in the tournament because I simply love playing chess! Entry Fee is so high in most of them. This US Federation was the worst one for so many years and really unprofessional. Somebody else must be elected.


"What is the value of a grandmaster?" This question makes me think of Bobby Fischer and his demands for more money 💰 to perform in the 1972 World championship. Fischer understood his worth and he made sure that he not only won, but was also rewarded for his efforts. Bobby Fischer is not an average grandmaster, however, he set the example for others to follow. To me, it is up to the individual to decide their own worth by choosing wisely which competitions and other projects are worth their time.

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