25 Creative ways to make money with chess

Chess is a lovable game with tons of excitement and interesting challenges for aspiring players. There’s one thing that will not change however, we have to put food at the table, and mastering chess can be in the way of that.

What if I tell you there are different ways to make money with chess, something that most people don’t even consider. It is a missed opportunity that I want you to get and take advantage of as soon as possible.

As you can see the horizon to earning money with chess can be wide, it’s such a shame to let this go by. I had to think of unique ways that nobody is talking about yet is actionable, so I’m going to share them with you.

In this article I will discuss the ways to make money with chess. Without furhter ado, let’s begin.

Does winning chess tournaments earn money?

Participating and winning a place in chess tournaments can easily get you above $1000 whether it’s over the board, for a chess club, or online.

1.) Engage in over the board tournaments for prize money

This is the classical way chess players have made money throughout history, so there’s no way that this can be ignored. The prize money that can be won in tournaments will be slim in lower-levels at around 100 to 500 dollars first place.

At higher levels though the prize money starts picking up the number which can easily reach up to $1000 above first place. Top players participating in privileged tournaments will have prize money of above 30,000 dollars for first place.

However, it has already been demonstrated that there’s a bleak future for relying solely on prize funds for regular players.

Unless you are a world-class player who has a lot of backing to accommodate international events, this can only be done on the side.

2.) Play tournaments in a chess club

Chess clubs host several tournaments for participating players where they will accumulate funds for prizes. This is more of a reliable hustle for non-professional players since the competition will be much weaker.

The prices on these things can vary depending on the size of the chess club and the number of participants, but the first place should give you around 100 to 1,000 dollars.

You also wouldn’t need much transportation to arrive at the events therefore reducing participating cost.

Type of chess clubEstimated prizes of the first place
School chess clubs50 USD – 100 USD
Small chess clubs100 USD – 300 USD
Established chess clubs500 – 1000 USD
Chess clubs founded by players1000 USD +

This is something I recommend more than going for prize money in official tournaments since you’re more likely to win here.

3.)Play in an online chess tournament

Making money with chess online is something that is not possible before but is starting to gain popularity today. With Magnus Carlsen (world champion) winning inconsistently above $30,000 on top online tournaments, it is a consideration now.

However, I don’t want you to expect huge income as an untitled player since you’re unlikely to win or even qualify. For most people, winning $5 to $100 is a realistic expectation of what you can get from online tournaments.

As long as you get a good site with a credible background of sending prizes then it is a good consideration. You likely won’t win a lot with 2nd or 3rd place in these events, so first place is your only option to earn good money.

These are the most popular chess websites out there

How to earn an extra 50-150$ with chess?

One can approximately make about 50 to 150 dollars with chess hustling, writing for chess websites and magazines, or performing a chess simul/exhibition.

4.) Do some chess hustling

Hustling in chess does not necessarily translate to cheating and exploiting tourists out of pocket money, it’s just beating people in chess.

You would have to play a lot of games in a day to earn around 15 to $100 and not lose much at that. Once you gain a reputation it will be much easier to find opponents that you can beat, which is a good side hustle.

Be careful to not do anything in the line of cheating since it will get you in trouble with aggressive people. You would be playing against not so adept players and likely win, so you don’t have to cheat anyway (and it is unethical). 

5.) Be a writer for chess websites

Some famous chess websites hire writers that are knowledgeable enough to write for blogs that will be posted on their sites. This is a good opportunity to earn between $50 to 150$ depending on the word count of each article.

Some of them require you to present an over-the-board rating which is reasonable, but as long as you have the knowledge there’s a job out there. This is a good hustle that will also make you learn some side writing skills for other topics.

Long term you can even receive a reputation that will get other clients which can even turn into a business. You will need initial qualifications however (being good in English, being articulate, etc.) so you might want to look into that set of skills.

6.) Write for chess-related magazines

This is similar to writing for a chess website except that it’s for a magazine which will include different tones, style, etc. This is less about known information and more about writing chess-related news in an interesting way. 

The rate should also be around 50 to 150 dollars still, but could be above depending on the client and how much work you’re going to put in.

It would be harder to get a position in this unless you already are a known figure in the chess world as a player/commentator.

So I do not recommend this for most people and writing for a chess website might be a better option than this one. However, if you have an image as a player/commentator then this is a viable option since it’ll also likely to pay more.

7.) Perform chess simuls/exhibitions

Chess simuls/exhibitions are playing against multiple people at once where participants are going to pay to have a chance to beat you.

You will have to be a titled player though if you want to attract a huge crowd that is willing to engage in your exhibitions.

The participants are likely to not be impressed if everyone can beat you very easily, they come to see a good player. Plus you’re going to battle against several people at once which is tiring and stressful, it will be difficult if you don’t have the experience.

Other variations exist like playing against several people at once but in a form of a betting game, where you win money if you win. This will have a higher return but also a higher risk since you can lose money if you fail to uphold the winning part.

Does facilitating a chess tournament make money?

One can make money facilitating a chess tournament by being a chess arbiter, a chess commentator, chess interviewer, or a chess photographer.

8.) Be a chess arbiter

Chess arbiters are basically referees that organize and direct chess competitions that are played in over the board tournaments.

Being an arbiter does not require a full-time commitment and can be done on the side, as good as 30$-100$ depending on the qualification.

The good thing about this is it’s not even required to attend international events, a local one would do if it’s in your preference.

9.) Be a chess commentator

Believe it or not, top tournaments have certain commentary involved with it, mostly for online viewings where other players can watch.

You do not exactly need to be a grandmaster to qualify in this although you need to have at least a title since you will do some commenting.

Some former players who realized that they will never reach the top rank of the chess world switch career to commenting such as Maurice Ashley and has found success.

The number of commentators is limited though since they are only present in privileged competitions where they are in demand.

10.) Be a chess interviewer

This is similar to a chess commentator although you will do interviews of players who just finished their games, which involves asking some questions.

You do not need to be a titled player to qualify for this position, as long as you are friendly and can pay attention to the details then it should be fine.

The rate will depend on the tier of the tournament but expect a couple of bucks at max. Especially if you are in a country where privileged chess tournaments are hosted frequently (American, London, etc.) then this is a good side hustle.

11.) Be a photographer in chess tournaments

You can be a photographer of many things, one option to earn money with chess is to strike a deal being a photographer in tournaments. The rate could range from a couple of bucks to thousands of dollars if you managed to enter a top tournament deal.

There are no exact qualifications that pertain to a chess-related background in order to acquire this position, as long as you can do photography it should be ok.

David Llada is an example of this person who has made a living taking photos of tournament players competing in their games.

What things can titled chess players do to earn money?

Some of the best ways to make money as a titled player is representing a chess club, being a chess second, getting appearance fees, obtaining chess-related scholarships/stipends, writing a chess book, or having a chess sponsor.

12.) Represent a chess club

If you are a titled player preferably a grandmaster, being paid to represent a chess club in a tournament can earn a big buck.

Someone who has top of the world status can easily acquire a fee over thousands, though regular gm’s should expect around a hundred dollars.

One should have a good reputation as a player and can work with people in order for clubs to be interested otherwise, it would be difficult to do this.

It could be a good side hustle for titled players that do not see a future earning prize money solely from tournaments.

13.) Be a chess second to someone who is willing to pay

This is a huge opportunity for the players that has a lot of connections on top tier players, becoming their second. If you want to know the responsibilities and duties of a chess second, there are many articles online that can enlighten you.

The take-home for chess seconds is not well known to the public, although several accounts say it is on a percentage of the player’s tournament winnings.

I imagine that it is a lot, although you need to be a good friend of somebody world-class in order to land this position.

14.) Get appearance fees from being in chess tournaments

Appearance fees are basically tournaments paying players to take a visit at tournaments in order to boost their reputation. As you can imagine this takes someone who is well known in order to even scouted for this, but it is a good option.

In fact, it is not preposterous to say that only at least the top 50 of the world could qualify for this, though I may be wrong.

If a regular GM can get an appearance fee it would just be hundreds of dollars, top gm’s can easily make thousands with this on the other hand.

15.)Obtain a chess-related scholarship or stipends

For aspiring young players, joining a scholarship program that promotes sports engagement is a good way to earn money. The downside is as you can expect, the number of programs is limited and you will have to look for it.

For stipends, government funding to support chess pursuits come to mind which is possible in places like Russia and parts of Europe.

You should check if one is available in your country since it doesn’t take much effort to gain money and there’s usually no age bracket.

16.) Write a chess book

Chess books are popular for enthusiastic players that are willing to step up their game, although it is not as popular as before.

A new form of medium (e-books) are starting to take the competition, but books are still a good way to earn money by selling to traditional learners.

The biggest downside is, you have to be knowledgeable in order to write a book that would sell. The rate could easily be between $10 to $20 which you can just put up on online platforms like Amazon.

17.)Get a chess sponsor that is willing to pay

Sponsorship in chess is rare, people after all are unwilling to watch chess tournaments unless they are a player themselves. Chess however is increasing the pace in several years due to online engagement, sponsorships in turn are becoming more common.

Players like Hikaru Nakamura who get sponsored by Red Bull, or Magnus Carlsen being sponsored by Clothing Lines are a good example of this. But as you can imagine, you need to have a good reputation preferably a top player to land good deals.

What things can you sell with chess to earn money?

Selling physical chess products (chessboard, chess clock, etc.), Chess e-books and courses, and chess t-shirts will earn significant cash.

18.) Sell physical chess products

Physical chess products like chessboards, chess clocks, demonstration boards, etc. are potential products to sell. Schools and chess clubs are very feasible targets if you’re going to start merchandising some products.

I’ve seen small scale operations of this where a player is only selling a couple of clocks and boards to their peers, which is something you can implement.

Chess lovers after all are very engaged in the game and are willing to pay the money in order to keep playing it.

19.) Sell chess e-books and courses

Basically premium informational content that people would pay in order to get access for, something you share your knowledge of chess.

I’m going to be honest with you, it’s hard to excel in this especially with the current environment having a lot of masters creating many ebooks/courses.

However if you can identify a weak spot that is not covered by the masters which you can create, then it would mean good money. Though you will have to look out for a good platform to sell these materials, something that is popular and credible.

20.) Sell chess t-shirt

The reason why this is such a good idea is due to the level of engagement that players put in this pursuit making them likely to buy. If you can commerce good chess t-shirts and market them, an avid chess fan would be excited to have something like that.

You can do this physically by having an actual printing store and finding a way to sell them locally, or going online. There are many platforms that will allow you to embed chess designs on shirts and earn commission by doing so, it is a good consideration. 

21.)Sell chess stock photos

I already talked about being a photographer in chess tournaments, but another option is selling chess stock photos.

There are multiple ways of doing this like uploading to free platforms such as Pixabay and Unsplash and gaining donations, or creating a website.

A website that has stock photos for sale is also a possibility, though will be more active and require some branding. You can also join premium networks that can feature your photos and allow you to have commissions when someone buys them.

What can someone with a good personality earn with chess?

One with the right personality can become a chess influencer by doing some chess coaching, starting a youtube channel, or a chess website to start a business that will earn recurring income.

22.) Do some chess coaching

This is another good opportunity that titled players do which earns them more than a living, becoming a coach. Whether it is a coach for school or an online one where aspiring players can improve their game by being with you.

As you can imagine though you need some really good knowledge and be able to work with students in order to succeed in this. A good coaching routine could easily land thousands of dollars in weeks, but again, it will be hard.

23.) Start a chess youtube channel

Creating a youtube channel and gaining traffic to earn with ads or some other method is also an option to earn money chess. If you go to youtube you will see a lot of chess videos that are over a million views, it is popular currently. 

Starting a youtube channel does not cost anything for the opportunity it presents, a business can be made here. Plus you will get to talk about the thing you love (chess) along with other people who share your passion.

24.) Start your own chess website

This idea is of course the same one I’m doing now, I am creating articles that would rank on google and earning money on traffic.

Unlike with youtube this is not free, although the cost should only be minimal involving the hosting and domain name in WordPress.

The great thing about this is you don’t need to be in front of a camera in order to create content, you can deliver from behind the shadows. There is a business lurking here just like with youtube using ads and affiliates, so you might be interested in this.

Can you integrate software to earn money with chess?

Making a software that solves a particular problem for chess players like the Magnus app is a viable way to earn money with chess.

25.) Make a chess app

A chess app that delivers something of value to chess players is a consideration to sell some membership or informational products. Magnus the world champion implements this strategy, there definitely is a lot of money if something like this blows up.

The competition is harsh I agree, but you don’t really know unless you try especially if you’re someone who can produce an app. Something like this is not only a side hustle, a good app is also a business that will earn you money for years to come.

Do you now know how to make money with chess?

Making money with chess can seem intimidating and sometimes impossible, this article however should give you some ideas. Personally, I think earning money through your passion is a very real thing, and that is what this article tries to achieve.

You can choose one from the variety of options above or try a bunch of them, especially if you have nothing to lose. Earning money with chess doesn’t have to be complicated, especially in our information-free era of the internet.

I hope you have gained valuable perspective and are willing to take action after this, Sleep well and play chess.