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The impact of chess on professions


India is going crazy over chess now, especially after the recent win by Chennai-based chess prodigy V Pranav who became India’s 75th Grandmaster. To add to the excitement Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand became the deputy president for FIDE. For centuries now chess has been a much-loved game the world over. It’s not surprising as chess comes with many benefits. Throughout history, humanity has survived crises through games and sports. The pandemic was the perfect example of people coming together to use sports to reduce anxiety and improve mental health.

“I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” – Marcel Duchamp

The number of chess players during the pandemic increased exponentially. It’s a global game that promotes mutual respect, inclusion and fairness. It also has always been a sport that promotes understanding among nations and builds tolerance. Did you know that one of the earliest references to the game came from a Persian manuscript of around 600 CE, this reference describes a visit to King Khosrow by an Indian ambassador who is said to have presented him the game chess as a gift. As chess grew from strength to strength it was on 12 December 2019, the General Assembly proclaimed 20 July as World Chess Day, this marked the establishment of FIDE in Paris in 1924. This designation of World Chess Day by the UN recognizes the important role of FIDE in supporting international chess and improving harmony among people around the world thereby fostering dialogue, solidarity, and a culture of peace.

A picture of Viswanathan Anand
Chess can impact many professions in different ways

The magnetism of the game

Statistics show that 70% of the adult population has played chess at some point in their lives while about 605 million adults play chess regularly. Some experts even say that there could be more possible games of chess mathematically, than there are atoms in the universe. In India the game has picked up momentum, we now have 76 Grandmasters, 124 International Masters and 18 Woman Grandmasters. So, why are people so drawn to the game? Chess is undoubtedly a game that completely involves the mind and offers an intense intellectual challenge to players. That is, both professional and recreational players return to the game often as they reap the benefits of chess as individuals and in their personal professions. What kind of professions benefit significantly from chess?

It is a known fact that chess improves memory

Having a good memory is a skill that can be enhanced with practice. Chess is an ideal game that helps players develop strong memory skills. Statistics claim that experienced chess players perform better with auditory memory. Professions that benefit from having a good memory are actors, singers, musicians, dancers, language interpreters. An EMT and Paramedic, a teacher, an environmental engineer, a judge, a nurse, an electrician, an athletic coach, a biochemist and sales representative. Studies have proven that skilled chess players have an excellent memory and are able to recognize visual patterns faster than others.

If you still want to know why children should play chess, here's another article that may convince you:

  • “Unlike other games in which lucre is the end and aim, [chess] recommends itself to the wise by the fact that its mimic battles are fought for no prize but honor. It is eminently and emphatically the philosopher’s game.” – Paul Morphy

Chess engages, intensely

Chess players are often engaged in their game intensely, often so wholly focused that they seem to enter a time warp. Their game flow usually can’t be interrupted as the game proves challenging and player’s performance is at their peak when engrossed. Therefore, players who have professions that require high engagement levels and focus can benefit from the game of chess. Studies show that the brain activity of chess players increases when they are in this state. Players who are accountants, surgeons, mechanics, pharmacists, executive assistants, web developer, architect, copy editor and proof-reader will benefit from this skill.

  • “Every chess master was once a beginner.” – Irving Chernev

Chess improves divergent thinking

Chess players have incredible thinking skills and display the ability to exercise both divergent and creative thinking. This skill helps professionals who are video game designers, graphic designer, social media manager, copywriter, public relations manager, lawyers, digital marketer, research scientist and software architect.

An interesting read for those who love to know more about chess:

Chess players acquire amazing planning skills

We all know how long chess games can go on for, each player lost in silent contemplation, quietly planning and strategizing. While one is planning the next move, the other players get engrossed in anticipating the move, considering how to counter attack. The game demands constant planning, anticipating, and predicting. That is why it is considered a highly cognitive game, extremely beneficial for development of the brain. Professions that can benefit from excellent planning skills are Wedding planner, urban planner, event coordinator, architect, district manager and project manager.

Here are a list of world-class chess players who also had real professions

Emanuel Lasker (mathematician)

There are quite a few mathematicians who were also great players. Former world champion GM Max Euwe was a math teacher (1935), John Nunn who was a math lecturer at Oxford University. Emanuel Lasker was one of the best chess players among the mathematicians. When he was not defending his title, he dedicated himself to earning a doctorate in math. In fact, Lasker has a mathematical theory named after him, how great is that?

GM Mikhail Botvinnik (electrical engineer)

GM Mikhail Botvinnik defended his world champion title the same year he received his doctorate in engineering. He played in 6 additional world championship matches and went on to teach Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik. He was a computer scientist and an electrical engineer. In fact, he is the first world-class player who was passionate about computer chess. He wrote An Algorithm for chess in 1968, followed computers, Chess and Long-range planning in 1970.

GM Samuel Reshevsky was an accountant by profession

GM Samuel Reshevsky (accountant)

GM Samuel Reshevsky was regarded as an investment analyst and insurance salesman. He was often described as an accountant. No matter his profession, Reshevsky was an incredible chess player. He was a child prodigy and began giving exhibitions when he was only 8 years old. After he received his accountancy degree he managed to acquire a position among the top 5 players and held onto it for many decades. Another accountant who was also a chess master was Henry Bird.

This proves that sometimes even chess players need a day job to help balance out their lives. Out of the entire general population, essentially nobody is a professional chess player, but even world champions sometimes need a day job. Other chess players with different jobs are GM Kenneth Rogoff became a Harvard economist, Mark Taimanov a concert pianist and Robert Huebner was a papyrologist. Can you believe it?

Some professionals who swear by chess

"Chess has helped me because I'm sure without it I would have punched a customer in the face by now." Says a player from the forums of

Success in chess is related to one's thinking power - naturally it might help in whatever profession we pursue which involves a lot of thinking - not other professions which depend on other skills like physical prowess, artistic talent, management skills or language fluency. Says another player from the forums.


Chess is a great way to move towards overall development during childhood and further growth in adulthood. Pursuing chess as a passion helps cognitive, intellectual and critical thinking. In today’s era it’s an important skill to acquire for a variety of reasons. Children are distracted. They are restless. They cannot focus. Engaging children in a game of chess will go a long way in making a big difference in their lives. Learner Circle is constantly working to increase the awareness on the benefits of mind games like chess and other extra-curricular activities. Further to this endeavor, we have built a cutting-edge platform to enable children to learn, interact, engage and grow together. Please do visit our website to learn more.

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