Can You Make Money Playing Chess?

Knights, pawns, queens, and rooks: can you actually make money playing chess? Keep reading to find out more and you might be surprised by the answer.

Did you know that the longest chess game was 269 moves, which is about 230 moves more than the average game? In addition, the longest chess match lasted over 20 hours!

From beginners to Grandmasters, chess players have been struggling with the game for hundreds of years. Many authors and poets have even compared a game of chess to human lives. 

Chess might be played on the same board as checkers, but the two games require very different skill levels. It’s the difference between “king me” and “checkmate.” 

If you want to make money playing chess, you won’t have to sit for a game that lasts nearly an entire day. Instead, you can approach this timeless game in several ways to make a few extra bucks. 

In fact, you might find making money by playing chess easier to do than you first thought. It all comes down to how you put those skills to work for you. 

Are you ready to answer the question, “Can you make money playing chess?” Let’s get started!

How to Make Money Playing Chess

You can indeed make a living from chess if you’re a professional. However, only about the top 5-10% of chess players can live off their earnings. 

At the same time, even if you’re not among the Magnus Carlsens of the chess world, you can still make a few dollars from your chess-playing skills. In fact, some of these ways to make money from chess don’t even require you to play it.  

1. Tournaments

One of the most direct ways to make money playing chess is to win a tournament. You can win smaller local tournaments to begin your career and then move up to the big leagues. 

The World Chess Championship is one of the largest tournaments. Here, top players can win up to $1 million if they vanquish their opponents.

2. Hustling

As with many game-playing skills, you can also use your chess knowledge to hustle other players. This often happens in New York where players gather in parks to pit their skills against a stranger. 

While hustling walks a fine line between legal and illegal behavior, you can earn between $5 and $20 per game. At the same time, you’ll learn skills and techniques from other players who might be taking the same approach as you.

3. Coaching or Teaching 

Once you’ve reached a certain level in chess, you can turn around and teach the next generation of chess players how it’s done. The more skilled you are, the more you can charge per hour. 

Chess coaches range from $25 an hour up to $400 or more, depending on what rank they’ve achieved. You can teach chess in person or online over Zoom or Skype. 

Many chess teachers will also put on summer programs or offer courses at the local schools. If you can teach and know a thing or two about chess, coaching could be right up your alley. 

4. Writing about Chess

If you’ve struggled with how to make money blogging, you could start a blog about chess. The reality is, topics surrounding chess open up several avenues for the approach you take. 

For example, you could write about the top chess players and how they achieved fame and Grandmaster status. You could also write about where and how chess shows up in literature. 

If you don’t want to start your own blog, you can market your services as a chess writer. A magazine could potentially pick you up for a regular column about chess, even if you’re not super great at the game. 

5. Make YouTube Videos

Have you ever wondered, “How much does YouTube pay?” You could find out by making videos about chess! 

Just like with a blog, you can take the approach that best suits you when it comes to filming about chess. You can talk about the history of chess and famous players, point out valuable resources for learning more about chess, or even demonstrate and review strategies during gameplay. 

Making YouTube videos does take a bit more time than your average blog post but it can be worth it for visual learners. You may even learn a few things about chess along the way. 

6. Sell Chess-Related Products 

If you want to know how to make money online without paying anything, especially with chess, selling physical and digital products can be the way to go. You can sell T-shirts and mugs or even eBooks on how to improve your game. 

This approach to making money by playing chess doesn’t require you to play the game, but it can be a lucrative source of passive income. Create a digital product or set up an Etsy store with chess merchandise, and you could be making as much as you would by winning a chess tournament. 

Chess players can also create their own chess membership site to cash in on this game. Founders can put several valuable resources behind a paywall and foster a community to get their site off the ground. 

7. Review Chess Products and Programs

One approach that goes well with blogging and producing YouTube videos is reviewing chess products and the multitude of programs out there related to this game. The great news is that it’s better if you’re not the best at chess because you can represent the average consumer in reviewing these products. 

In reviewing chess programs, it’s best if you have an audience. However, you can build that audience on YouTube and social media with affiliate programs as well.

8. Livestream Your Chess Games

Gamers make money on Twitch hand over fist, making it one of the most lucrative side hustles for teens who can amass a large following. Incorporate personality and humor into your chess livestreaming and you could earn a pretty penny through advertising revenue as well. 

9. Create Your Own Chess App

For those who are technically inclined, creating your own chess app could be the ticket to making some extra cash. Even if you create a free chess app, you can make money through in-app purchases or a website if you set yourself up as an expert. 

Chess mobile apps can teach beginners how to play chess and develop strategies or analyze more advanced gameplay to give feedback. You can also make money with a free chess app by hosting paid tournaments and rewarding winners with tantalizing prizes. 

10. Become a Chess Arbiter 

Believe it or not, there are chess referees, or what’s known as chess arbiters. These individuals have experience playing chess, including how to operate chess clocks and pairing systems. 

Chess arbiters regulate gameplay and manage disputes should they arise. You can attend a seminar to become a chess arbiter, but you’ll need to pass an exam with a score of at least 80% to receive your certification. 

11. Play Chess Online

Some websites will pay you real money to play chess online. While you may have to ante up entry fees to participate, these prizes are often split among the top three players. 

In the grand scheme of things, playing chess online won’t get you rich. However, it can help you hone your skills and practice strategies to use in paying tournaments. 

How Professional Chess Players Make Money

Most professional chess players earn the majority of their money through tournaments but some supplement that income with various chess-related side hustles. It’s a bit like professional sports players engaging in sponsorship deals to pad their bank accounts. 

For example, Magnus Carlsen achieved chess fame and created the Play Magnus chess training app. He and other professional chess players like him also make money from participating in the following activities. 

Chess Second

When professional chess players think about how to make money, they may not always think of becoming a chess second first. However, it is possible to become the gameplaying companion of a similarly skilled chess player. 

If you take a minute and think about it, chess players and other performance-oriented athletes need to keep their skills sharp so they can continue competing. Chess seconds provide that target and the opportunity for players to try out different strategies and strengthen their weaknesses. 

Sponsorships and Endorsements

As you might have expected, professional chess players also obtain sponsorships and endorsements from big names in the industry. These players may also be required to show up to specific events or film adverts. 

These endorsements are similar to the terms of affiliate marketing you’re probably familiar with. However, these sponsorships may or may not be related to chess at all. 

Chess Exhibitions

You don’t become a chess Grandmaster and not paint a target on your back. That’s why there are chess exhibitions. 

In a chess exhibition, Grandmasters play individual games with multiple players at a single time. When the Grandmaster makes a move on one board, he or she then moves to the next board,  around the circle until he or she returns to the first board. 

Variations of chess exhibitions exist but the same concept still applies. In some cases, spectators and participants (including the Grandmaster themselves) can bet money on who will win. 

How to Start a Chess Career

If you want to start your chess career, there are many approaches you can take. While most experts agree that starting earlier is better, a rigorous work ethic can make up for the lost time. 

In addition to practicing and learning all you can about chess, you can join your local chess club or any one of several online chess clubs. Take advantage of chess study books and instructional videos to add to your repertoire, but be sure to observe the 20/40/40 rule

As you get better, you can enter tournaments to potentially place. These experiences will also teach you what strategies your opponents employ, whether or not they beat you. 

The U.S. Chess Federation offers scholarships, supports tournaments, and provides rewards for superior chess players. You can also learn more about the FIDE chess rating system, which will help you determine how to quantify your chess skill level. 

Top Websites to Play Chess

While playing chess in person can add an extra stress element to any tournament, there are ways you can play chess from the comfort of your own home. Check out these websites that let you play chess and perhaps even get paid for it:  

  • Chess.com: This site offers lessons from Grandmasters, live chat rooms, puzzles, and online tournaments. Join the chess community on Chess.com.
  • Lichess.org: If you like real-time analysis for your chess game, type this website into your browser search bar. Lichess.org also offers practice games, puzzles, and weekly tournaments. 
  • SparkChess: Play against a computer or other human players on this website, which offers puzzles and tutorials as well. You can also create your own custom board to use in your single and multiplayer games. 
  • Chess24: This website pits you against Grandmasters to improve your skills. You can also play practice games and seek guidance from tutorials. 
  • Internet Chess Club: The ICC began in 1992 and has been helping chess players since then. There are online competitions, chess leagues, chat rooms, forums, instructional videos, game reviews, and player rankings. 
  • Chess Cube: Available for both your desktop and smartphone, Chess Cube offers over 30,000 games and over 400 daily tournaments. Chat with friends on forums, compete for leaderboard spots, and enjoy lectures and training videos to your heart’s content. 

Not all apps that pay you real money pay you for playing chess. However, these websites above are certainly a go-to source if you want to hone your chess skills and earn some extra money at the same time.  

FAQs

Can you actually play chess and make money?

Yes, you can actually play chess and make money. Our list includes several ways to get paid playing chess, even if you’re not a Grandmaster. 

How much money can you make by playing chess?

There’s seemingly no limit to how much you can make playing chess, depending on your skill level, what activities you participate in, and how you invest your time. Some chess players make enough playing chess to support themselves, while others only make enough to buy a coffee now and then. 

Is becoming a chess player an actual career?

Yes, becoming a professional chess player is an actual career. The top players can make hundreds if not millions of dollars playing chess. 

How long does it take to become a good chess player?

The time it takes to become a “good” chess player depends on what you consider “good.” Most people spend at least a few years honing their skills, while others devote their entire lives to the game. 

Call “Checkmate” on Your Checking Account Balance

Playing chess can help you feel like the smartest person on the block but can it make you money? We’ve answered that question in our article, which includes several ways you can make money with chess. 

We hope our article has helped you to see that playing chess can be cooler than you first thought—and more profitable. When you know how to make money with a game you potentially enjoy, it’s easier to sit down and play a few rounds. 

Chess can also teach you a lot about life as well. We won’t wax philosophical here, but implementing strategies can potentially teach you ways to deal with challenges in your life.

Will you become a chess Grandmaster? 

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Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian is the founder of Gigs Done Right and has tried every side hustle under the sun. His mission with Gigs Done Right is to share valuable information regarding the gig economy to everyone from beginners looking to start a side hustle, to veteran gig workers trying to expand their empire. He teaches people just like you how to make money in the gig economy and has been featured in Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, and more. He normally shares the latest news, videos, and topics for gig workers so they can earn more money in the gig economy.
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