A day in the life of a professional chess player.


Any professional chess players, feel free to write about the topic. 


Can you please give us the definition of a Professional Chess player?

CongoratsUlost2me wrote:

Can you please give us the definition of a Professional Chess player?

A person who tries to make his end meet by playing chess (basically, he gets his income by playing chess -_-). 


I want to die on the chess board.

Madhav121212 wrote:

I want to die on the chess board.


Madhav121212 wrote:

I want to die on the chess board.

Based on your Daily rating you already have. wink.png


Chess is a great hobby but a lousy profession.

tygxc wrote:

Chess is a great hobby but a lousy profession.


Plus with the rise of machines the future chess career looks rather less lucrative and cringe.

*please don't ban me 

I don't mean to hurt anyone...just my view

Iron-Toad wrote:
Michael Wilder's Agony Column

From: mginsbur@rnd.GBA.NYU.EDU (Mark Ginsburg) Newsgroups: Subject: GM Humor: GM Mike Wilder on "Agony" - _Chow_ upload 4/92 Date: 1 Dec 92

[Dear R.G.C., this bit appeared in the April 1992 issue of _Chess Chow_. Following Mr. Sloan's advice, we have decided that this is the best form of promotion - free uploads.]

[posted to r.g.c. by IM Mark Ginsburg]

This month Mike ignores, I mean responds, to the very special agony of NY chess fixture and victim of the class struggle, Larry Tamarkin.

Dear Mike,

Part of the legacy of being the most active player in 1983 was achieving a peak rating just over 2300 in 1984. This accomplishment unfortunately put my floor above 2200. My strength might be closer to high expert, but I'll never play in that category again. Dozens of times I have been in the running for under 2400 money, only to lose to (sometimes draw with) the 2300+ player I'm inevitably paired with, leaving me flat broke. I complained to Bill Goichberg about my problem:

Me: "Bill, I have no chance in these tournaments. I'm much weaker than my rating, but this b l o o d y rating floor designed to fight sandbaggers leaves me a loser every time."

Bill: "But don't you enjoy being a Life Master and knowing you can't lose your master rating."

Me: "But Bill, I'm going broke playing in these tournaments for the under 2400 money and always losing out in the end."

Bill: "Want to enter my next tournament, the entry fee's only x?!x!!"

Me: "I don't want to play in any tournaments, especially yours! I have over 700 chess books and I can't seem to improve. I'm so frustrated! Damn chess!"

Bill: "Well, almost everyone knows that the way to improve is to play in strong open tournaments! By the way, you can still get into my next event at the advance rate."

After this conversation with the tireless promoter, I vowed not to enter any more tournaments, but Steve Immitt gave me credit the next week at the MCC and I promptly went into the hole there. Then Alan Kantor kept asking me if I was playing in his NY State Championship. I tried to explain that I couldn't afford it, but somehow Alan persuaded me to play.

The following game was played in the last round of the aforementioned tournament. As usual, I'm black against a higher rated player and must win to get any money. My opponent is rather short, but definitely looks stronger and tougher than me!

James Lewis (2338)-Larry Tamarkin (2206)
New York State Championship 1991, Round Six

1.e4 Nf6

The Alburtine, I mean the Alekhine Defense, is my latest choice after all those agonizing losses with the "dynamic" Caro-Kann! As I tried to say in Chess Life, don't play the Alekhine, only Alburt can stand to look at those positions.--JB

2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.a4!?


after 4. a4!?  

What, this guy thinks I'm so stupid I'm just gonna leave the knight hanging?

4...a5 5.Ra3!?

Now I started to regret not having read Joel's Unorthodox Openings cover to cover! It doesn't matter, though: this isn't in it.

5...d6 6.exd6 cxd6 7.Rg3!?


after 7. Rg3 !?  

Well at least I don't have to worry about him mating me at f7, I reasoned.

7...g6 8.h4 h6

8...Bg7 and 8...h5 enticing white to put a knight on g5 are alternatives. Fed once recommended the text move to me in another opening to meet h4-h5 with g6-g5. Not moving the h-pawn at all might be best.

9.d4 Bf5 10.Nc3 Na6

I really wanted to play...Nb4 counterattacking, even though there was no rook on a1. It's probably better to play 10...Nc6, but I was a little afraid of c4- c5. Shows you how clearly I was thinking.


Where is this guy going?


after 11. Nh3  


Why not the intended 11...Nb4? I can't exactly remember what I was afraid of-- was it 12.c5 Nc2+ 13.Ke2 dxc5 14.dxc5 Qxd1+ 15.Kxd1 Nd7 16.Nd5 Rc8 17.Bb5 Rxc5 18.Nb6 Rxb5!-- so that doesn't work. What was it? There are other tries for white, but on reflection black usually comes out better. Maybe this was my big chance. I think it was mostly my frame of mind-- I could not envision any position clearly, so I kept choosing lemons.


Now he has definite attacking chances. Of course I didn't even see this move! Funny thing is he almost played 12.b3?


At least I saw that 12...Nxc4 13.Qxb7 Nb4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Qb5+ wins for white. I suspect that white's just better now

13.Be2 Qc8 14.O-O Bg7 15.h5! Bf6


after 15. ... Bf6  

On 15...g5 I feared 16.Nb5.

16.hxg6 fxg6 17.c5

All the stuff I was worrying about is happening. As Richard Lewis would say, "I'm doomed."

17...dxc5 18.Bb5+ Kf7 19.Bf4 cxd4 20.Bxc7 Nxc7 21.Ne4 Bh4?


after 21. ... Bh4?  

Despite all the stupid moves I made, I had been playing pretty resourcefully, in between visits to the bathroom. I always seem to spend a lot of time there, especially during important games! And now I could make a real fight of it if I just play 21...Nxb5 22.axb5 Rd8 with chances. But I forgot Tamarkin's rule about returning from the bathroom; sit down, take a stress pill and think things over! Though in this game I could barely think at all!


So simple, and it made me feel so stupid! Like Geller I was going to take the rook if it moved to g4! Now my position becomes a hopeless mass of melted plastic.

22...Bf6 23.Nxf6 exf6 24.Rxd4 Nxb5

Everything else loses, too. I'm just playing on out of pathetic inertia, or so the vulture-like spectators can have a good smile.

25.Qb3+ Qe6 26.Qxb5 Bxh3 27.gxh3 Rc8 28.Rfd1 Rc6 29.Qd3 Nc8 30.Re4 Qd6 31.Qb3+ 1-0


after 31. Qb3+  

Out of my misery at last.

After the game,other players told me how easy it could have been for me to take advantage of my opponent's odd play, Of course, that's part of the agony of being a lowly rated chessmaster; no matter how hard I study and try to improve, nothing seems to come of it. I still fail to win the crucial money game in most of the tournaments I play in. Whether it is due to a lack of ability or stamina, or just plain stupidity is irrelevant. It still hurts just as bad!

I returned to the book room to continue my whining to Fred Wilson--part of my price for helping with the bookselling (not to mention the Chess Chows-ed). Fred suggested that this guy really wasn't half bad. The bizarre opening might even be part of his pre-game preparation! At least there was still a bagel left over from the [NYSCA] voters meeting. I returned to the tournament room to see how the Fed was doing, among others. Many people had a good laugh about the game and Joel suggested I submit it to your agony column. When I saw him recently at the Manhattan CC, I told him I was still trying to sort out some variations. He assured me that whining was enough! Yes, there is plenty of whining here. Still, I appreciate whatever advice you wish to give me, Mike.

Thank you,



Michael Wilder "Responds":

Dear Larry,

You must feel like a big pair of buttocks. You truly know how it is: These days, it's hard to make good money, even by cheating. As for the problem with facing a ridiculous plan in the opening, what has always worked for me in that situation is to stop and collect myself. I spend a good amount of time to come up with a precise sequence that will preserve a solid advantage, and then I fall apart and lose horribly.

Your game reminds me of a certain game I lost once that cost me a lot of money. It was an absolutely fantastic struggle, involving multiple underpromotions and a problem-like endgame culminating in a chimney mate. Not that my loss and your game are particularly similar (though I couldn't tell you for sure, because I haven't actually looked at your game). In any event, I'm not going to show you that game.

Instead, witness this ordinary and all-around tedious affair with (British junior) Matthew Sadler. What will be unique is the revolutionary new annotating technique I will be introducing. Have you ever read Kotov's "Think Like a Grandmaster"? If you haven't, don't lose any sleep over it -- it's a load of rabbit-poody anyway. (He tries to describe the way the thought processes of a grandmaster are supposed to work. My reaction was, "Wake me up if there's any nudity.")

What I will be doing today will go Kotov one further: Thanks to the miracle of Chess Chow Technology, we will be bringing you "Grandmaster-Vision." This amazing device will enable you to follow what I was actually thinking during the game -- uncut, uncensored, and real. Through a verbatim transcription of my thoughts, you will be privy to the stream of consciousness in the mind of a grandmaster. You will see how a grandmaster really selects candidate moves and weighs options, and the disorganized process by which he finally decides which course to take. Grandmaster-Vision will be signified by quotations.

Sadler - Wilder
WFW London, 1989

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 d5 6. a3

"I'd like to try the Brazilian manoeuvre, but maybe he could counter that with the Portuguese notion. I'm going to block that strategy."




after 6. ... Bxc3+  

7. bxc3

"Oops! Next time I'll think twice before assuming that my opponent hung a piece."

7...dxc4 8. Bxc4

"Things aren't going that well. Don't panic. Remember when I panicked because I thought I had a tiny lump on my left t e s t i c l e ? And when I went to the doctor he told me that the tiny lump was my left t e s t i c l e? Well, the principle is the same -- there is no need to panic here, no siree. Just have to figure out how to channel my nervousness into something constructive. I know..."

(I got up and went outside and changed my socks. The reader should not get the misimpression that grandmasters carry an extra pair of socks with them -- I simply took the socks I was wearing and switched them on my feet. Back at the board...)

"Yeehaw! My feeties feel nice. Maybe I'll try to discombobulate him with a side-winder."

8...c5 9. Ne2 Qc7 10. Bd3 Nc6 11. O-O

"As my opponent is a 15-year-old prodigy/promising talent/whippersnapper/goat, there's no need to do anything silly here. Just be cool. Don't panic. Don't panic. FOR GOD SAKES DON'T PANIC. I AM CRAZY!!! Get a grip."


after 11. O-O  

11...Rd8 12. Bb2 e5

"I have a pretty good Nimzo here. If 13. Qc2 Be6 looks good for me. What is this young lad, make that punk, trying to pull here anyway. I HATE YOU, YOU PUNK!!! GOD HELP ME. Perhaps he's just unfamiliar with the P S Y C H O #*$**# AAARRRGHHHH opening. Don't panic."

13. Ng3?

After this clunker, black is better. But notice the mature reaction in the mind of an experienced grandmaster upon facing a move that clearly concedes the opening battle:

"Hommenahommenahommena Weeeeeoh -- How A&P; prices have changed! I don't hate you anymore, Mr. Sadler. I really don't. YOU PUNK!!! Sorry. I really don't. Nice junior. Good junior. I feel bad for you. The fact that you obviously have no clue about this position makesyou seem more likeable, more vulnerable, more human. Who knows -- if you play your cards right, I may even change my mind and forget all about my intention to give you a big ol' wedgie after the game."

13...exd4 14. cxd4 cxd4 15. Qc2

"What matter of Broncept is this? The little cherub is threatening 16. Bxd4, and if 15...dxe3 16. fxe3 with a lack of clarity. This is a critical position, so I should stop and think carefully. On the other hand, there's a lot to be said for being true to my principles, and making a random move instantly. Therefore..."


Black was probably better after 15...Qe5, as 16. Rd1 could be met by 16...Bg4. Now white can equalize.

16. Rad1

"I guess the youthful b a s t a r d is kind of tricky. I should cut him some respect. When I was his age, about the only talent I had was making noises with my armpits. I'll just continue moving instantly, and while he's thinking, I'll smile a lot and wave to the spectators."

16...Bg4 17. f3 Be6 18. exd4?

White could have achieved a drawish middlegame with 18. Ne4. The text allows black a slight advantage should he choose the obvious 18...Qf4. Instead....


In retrospect, this may have been the biggest embutterment of my career. From a totally ordinary, solid and slightly superior opening, black obtains an immediately resignable position with one innocuous-looking move.

19. d5!


After 19. d5!  

Winning. Even now, when I contemplate some of the variations, I get a sick feeling:

If 19...Bxd5, 20. Nf5 and now:

a) 20...Qf4 21. g3 Qg5 (21...Qc7 22. Bxf6 gxf6 23. Qc1, mating) 22. h4 Qh5 23. Bxf6 gxf6 24. g4 trapping the queen (24...Qg6 25. Ne7+)

b) 20...Qf8 21. Nxh6+ gxf6 (21...Kh8 22. Qf2 and black will not survive) 22. Bxf6 hitting the rook on d8 and also threatening 23. Bh7 mate! Other tries also lose, and black can't even give up his queen with 19...Qxd5 because 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21. Bh7+ wins it for just a rook.

We are having some technical troubles with Grandmaster-Vision, so in its place we bring you the all-new 1992 version of "Yasser-Vision". Here it goes: "I'm completely winning. Uh-oh, a 'howler'. Yasser loses again. Enjoy."

19...Nxd5 20. Bh7+

We feel very privileged to be able to resume our broadcast of Grandmaster- Vision:

"I seem to be losing now, because 20...Kh8 gets blasted by 21. Nh5 f6 22. Nxg7 with a crushing attack. Damn! Nuts! Double-Nuts! E x c r e m e n t ! Cats Catarrh! It is clear that I should resign. But experience has taught me that in such situations, if your behavior at the board is sufficiently bizarre and distracting, then there are always ... possibilities. Besides, I already resigned one game on move 16 earlier in this tournament, and it is better to be known on the circuit as "the guy who is always hovering behind his opponent and doing something weird" than as the guy who "loses all his games in under 20 moves."

20...Kf8 21. Nh5

I really didn't know what I was going to do. Suddenly, it hit me: "Eureka!" Unfortunately, shouting "Eureka" did not accomplish much, as my opponent was away from the board (though at least I was successful in annoying several former opponents who were playing in the same room).

21...Ne5 (if 21...f6, then 22. Nxg7)

22. f4

At this point, I went for the old standby -- I snuck up behind him, put my hands over his eyes and said "Guess who?" He shot back with the witty retort, "You are creepy. Please go away."

22...Ng4 23. Bxg7+ Ke7 24. Bd4 Rac8 25. Qb2

after 25. Qb2  

I suddenly had an inspiration and attempted to claim a win on time! (though I knew that in fact my opponent had over 50 minutes remaining on his clock). The TD ruled against me, but during the furious melee that ensued, I managed to secretly change my socks again.

25...Qc7 I knew that my opponent was suspicious of me, but I was so bitter that I didn't care, so while he was away from the board I removed his knight on h5. When he returned, I slammed down my move and offered a draw. He quickly caught on to what was happening, and said "Give me my horsie back." I sheepishly produced it from my pocket, and claimed that the whole thing was a "misunderstanding."

26. Rfe1 Rd6 27. h3 Nc3 28. hxg4 Nxd1 29. Rxd1 Bxg4 30. Bf6+ Ke8 31. Qe5+ Black resigns. 1-0


after 31. Qe5+  

I was drawing a blank trying to come up with an appropriately nasty remark, but then recalled a quip that a Chow staffer had ad-libbed at a collegiate insult contest. So I grinned at my opponent, pumped his hand warmly, and said "You look like a pine-cone."

So if there is a moral to the story, it is this: Chess will always embitter you; the important thing is to keep everything in perspective, and to be unpleasant to other people whenever possible.


[There it is, another classic example of the not-so-retired Mike Wilder's perspective.]

[for more info on _Chess Chow_, send me e-mail - MG] ==========================================================

Having said all that, here is my game with Bent Larsen (Watson Farley Williams, London, 1989). Though I did lose horribly in 16 moves, I maintain to this day that I played a great game. Indeed the opening I chose is of theoretical significance. {That is, it is of no actual significance; theoretically, it could have been significant, had I chosen a better opening.}

To counter the inevitable trepidation one feels when facing the venerable "Great Dane," I seized the psychological initiative by calling him "Kent" instead of Bent when I sat down to play (though "Bent" is silly enough). In the past, I had employed the disrepect- through mistaken- pronunciation motif with mixed results (e.g., while IM Jay Whitehead was thrown off when I called him "B u t t h e a d," Korchnoi seemed unconcerned when addressed as "Mr. Karpov").

Privately I was overconfident, and even told my friend Hodgson that "I can beat this guy blindfolded." Hodgson pointed out that Larsen probably would not be playing blindfolded. I thought it over and said "OK, but maybe I can still beat him."

Bent Larsen-Michael Wilder
London (Watson Farley Williams), 1989
Slav Defense

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3

I had a number of problems with my openings in this tournament, and looking back on it, it is clear where I went wrong in my preparation (which I later dubbed "Preparation H"). Before the tournament, Malcolm Pein told me that his ChessBase computer program would do "half your work for you," I said "Fine, I'll take two of them." But in the end, I spent the money instead on a couple of books by Eric Schiller and some new underwear.

Unfortunately, Schiller had overlooked 3.Nc3 in his otherwise comprehensive analysis of the position, so I had to wing it.

3... d5 4.d4 c6

Editor: This is the only time I can recall Mike essaying the Slav Defense.

5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bb3

Larsen crossed up my plans with this innocuous move. I thought to myself, "T u r d s, foiled again" (No, I was not envisioning t u r d s wrapped in foil-- it's just an expression). I started to panic upon remembering that Larsen had once won a brilliant game against Tal in the same line. I regained my composure after recollecting another encounter with Larsen, over a dinner table at Lone Pine many years ago.

This is a true story: An impressionable youngster who was thrilled at the chance to hobnob with a then world-famous Grandmaster, I was astonished when Larsen, an apparently erudite and cultured man who speaks many languages, devoured a large piece of cheesecake in under five seconds. When his dessert arrived, he went into a frenzy, lowering his mouth to plate-level and then methodically shoveling the cheesecake into his face, never looking up, all the while making Homer Simpson-like grunting and belching noises. Everyone at the table just stared at him, and when his head emerged and the cheesecake was gone, we all noticed that he had crumbs on his chin and little bits of cheesy smear around his mouth. Though I took great comfort from this memory, I still did not know what to do.


after 8. Bb3  


8...b4 was correct.

9.O-O a6?

9...b4 should still have been tried.

10.e4 c5?

Black can only hope to minimize his disadvantage with 10...b4 11.e5 bxc3 12.exf6 Nxf6.

11.e5 cxd4 12.Qxd4


after 12. Qxd4  

With this recapture Larsen was saying to me, in effect, "you'll eat my shorts and like it." I had not yet made my 12th move and already it was time for a little "stragedy." [Ed. note: In this case, Mike is not referring to pinball]

My first idea was to try to gross out my opponent, perhaps by showing him Odendahl; unfortunately, Steve was back in the U.S. Then I thought of Yasser Seirawan's "Flash Tactics," and briefly considered exposing myself to the Great Dane. But no. Too tasteless even for me (admittedly, it was a close call). Finally, in a conciliatory mood, I reached across the board, mussed his hair with both hands and said, "Ah Kent, ya big knucklehead."

Although Mr. Larsen has been portrayed in a negative light so far, I must confess that he impressed me at this stage with his class and professionalism. He simply ignored me completely, remaining unperturbed and totally focused on the game. At one point he even smiled a bit, as he slowly, imperceptibly maneuvered his king bishop to a post where it could then be thrust directly into my left eyeball. The result was one detached retina and a number of chuckling spectators!

12...Bc5 13.Qf4 b4 14.exf6 bxc3 15.fxg7

Note to readers: "Grandmaster-vision" is temporarily down, but as a special service to Chess Chowheads, "Larry Christiansen-vision" (by which Larry's actual thoughts as the game occurred have been transcribed verbatim) is available for this move only: "Let's see. Black will probably move his rook so that it won't be captured, after which there should be a long series of captures and attacking moves leading to mate, or at least...say, what's that smell? And why do I feel so warm and special all of the sudden? Why, I think...yes it has to be... I must have accidentally dropped an entire smoldering ashtray down the front of my trousers around move nine."

15...Rg8 16.Ba4 Rxg7


after 16. ... Rxg7  


Just when everything seemed hopeless, when it looked like the fiery walls of my position would consume my very soul, I noticed that black was developing some real counterplay along the g-file. I could see my pompous opponent thinking for the first time, as it slowly dawned on him that defending his kingside would permit certain counterchances in other areas of the board. Call it a sixth sense, but I could feel the tide was turning!

Suddenly, ...Black resigns.


Oh well.

Ed. Note: Perhaps a little bit of explanation is in order. After his initial euphoria, Mike realized that almost any continuation ( 17.Rd1 Bd5 18.bxc3 for example) leaves him hopelessly mangled. Even Mike can take only so much agony, and besides, he must have been quite anxious to try on his new underwear.

So big....I am yet to read this


I probably should have posted that in its own thread.  Sorry if I stepped on any toes.  I have another "Michael Wilder's Agony Column" too.

It was very interesting to read it.

I posted that article in its own thread, with improved diagrams:

I'm not trying to derail the OP DhruvPikle's thread -- I'm trying to give it back.

It’s much better to read when you can see good diagrams.