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8-year-old Israeli Wins European Chess Championship. Now Let’s Talk Money.

Noam Sason, 8, won the European school chess championship for children under 9 in Rhodes, Greece. He scored 7 out of 9 and defeated players from Turkey, Greece, Georgia, Romania, and Ukraine.

Spectators at the 2016 World Chess Championship Match in New York’s South Street Sea Port

Noam’s success comes on the heels of his other chess accomplishments, as well as support from his parents. Family support, both moral and financial, appears to be a requirement for young children to excel in chess. That counters common thinking that chess, unlike sports that require expensive gear, like golf or hockey, is immune from financial barriers. You still need money, apparently. We spoke with chess professionals to try to figure out how much it costs to raise a chess champion, and here is our napkin sketch-budget.

‘If the child won the under-9 championship, he or she has probably studied chess since the age of five’, — says Nikita Kim, founder of a chess education startup. ‘At this age, talent is prevalent, and most kids had similar amounts of training, usually two or three hours per week in a group and probably an hour or two per week individually. After the age of 10, talent is phenomenally important, but hours you put into your chess career make the difference, and I believe that those who made a conscious decision to become chess professionals, will make the cut’, — explains Kim.

Average children’s group chess course can run approximately $250 per month, and individual sessions range from $15 to $50 per hour depending on the country. Parents are also expected to travel to tournaments at least twice per year, so their children get to play in a competitive setting. Average cost of a tournament, including travel and hospitality, is about $1200 for a family.

Calculation (per year)

Expense Amount
Group training $3,000
Individual training $2,000
Tournaments $2,400
Study Aids $200
Total per year $7,600

Of course, chess has proven educational benefits apart from a chance to become a World Champion, but it appears that the sport has financial barriers to entry: it requires parents’ commitment to spend at least $22,000 over three years as well as to invest time to travel to tournaments to give their children a fair shot at becoming a chess player.

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