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The Depth of Chess

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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 28 June 2013
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by GM Danny Gormally


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I was looking through the FIDE rating list recently (exciting life I lead, I know) and checking out the strength in depth of the top countries. Well by god, there are so many good players now it's just frightening. Being over 2700 doesn't even guarantee you a top ten slot in Russia, and at a paltry 2496 I wouldn't even make it in the top 100 in that country.

Standards are going up all the time, there are now more good players than ever before. Equally, you could argue that inflation has played a part as well. I played Alexey Dreev at Gibraltar in 2006 and he was rated 2709 at the time, that put him in the top 15, now that wouldn't even make the top thirty.

What's depressing at times is how much I realise that i'm totally insignificant in the wider chess world. In England, any Grandmaster is rather like a big fish in a little pond, but go and play the big opens like Capelle la grande or Aeroflot, and you feel very small indeed.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? In some ways it's good, because with some many strong players it should in theory be easier to gain rating points, but even if I made it to 2600 (unlikely, but possible) I'd still be a nobody in world terms. You can't help but think that we are fighting over an increasingly small pie, with very little money in chess but more and more strong players.

You go to any tournament on the continent now and you can guarantee at least 6/7 Grandmasters will turn up, the first prize might be 1000 euros. It's virtually impossible to make a living from just playing chess, unless you are 2700 plus.

Speaking of 2700 players, I was lucky enough to play Michael Adams in a blitz tournament at the weekend. Compared to him I'm a complete nobody in chess terms, although he's far too nice a guy to say so. Someone like that who has a special talent can always make a living out of the game, but chess professionals of a lower calibre, like myself, are more and more a dying breed.

GM Daniel Gormally is open for chess lessons. You can contact him using this This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Other posts by GM Danny Gormally:
Fundraising in chess
Nurturing a Chess Prodigy
The Sad Case of Borislav Ivanov
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men - Part II
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men
One move, one line - Part II
One move, one line
Candidates Final Review & Preview of Upcoming World Championship Match
Would Carlsen have beaten Capablanca?

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Comments (3)
1. Written by Kazuzo Kudo on 08:23 28 2013 .
 
 
likes to see more and faster development of all the many ways you improve your chess game. Enjoy several blindfold blitz games in the coffee house near the window.
 
2. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 18:33 28 2013 .
 
 
In my mind I've often compared chess to tennis. Yes, I know that tennis is more exciting, for most people, to watch. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to compare how many professionals in that sport there are, and how many can make a living at tennis, and for how long. Does chess do badly in such terms? I wonder. The number of professional players is not the only criteria to measure the healthiness of competitive chess. Or is it?
 
3. Written by Peter on 18:40 28 2013 .
 
 
2 Nigel
Nigel, here is an article (unfortunately, in Russia) about tennis. Briefly speaking, only the top-100 can make a living playing tennis. I wouldn't say that the situation in chess is worse. Yes, tennis prizes are typically higher, but tennis players bear higher expenses than chess players: 
 
http://tennis.sport-express.ru/reviews/32532/
 

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