andrew martin wrote:What Leonard modestly does not mention is that it was his phenomenal hard work during the seventies etc which produced those charts and kept everyone motivated. Others made a significant contribution, but it was predominantly Leonard's fantastic effort.
Now to 2010. One burning question always at the forefront of my mind is whether I can recommend professional chess to our talented players. The way chess is in the UK at present I would have to say NO. By all means become as good as you can, enjoy the game, get a GM title, but to earn a living from chess, no way, unless your ability is exceptional or you have a diverse range of skills which you can use for the benefit of others within the chess scene.
I don't know what other people feel about this?
The answer to this is largely dependent on how you define 'professional chess'. It is rare to be able to make a living simply by playing chess and winning prize money or receiving appearance fees. It is not impossible, but there are alternatives that are more attractive.
Entrepreneurial spirits might note that publishing chess books is remunerative. Writing them is less so.
However the area where most players who hope to make a living from chess can make money is in coaching in schools, and organising junior chess tournaments. Individual coaching is a way to make ends meet, but teaching chess in schools in an organised way is very lucrative. I am not suggesting that it is the best way to generate elite players of the next generation, but it is a way to make a living that beats most 'normal' salaried jobs.
I think Leonard Barden's methods were excellent. However the ECF is faced with criticism that it is elitist if it supports such initiatives, and accusations of neglect if it doesn't! I would support more money being directed into developing young players in the way Leonard suggests. It needs a special person to direct that initiative.
If I get elected again I am going to spend a lot of energy supporting weekend and county events next year. However, rank and file players (like me) just have to get used to the concept that we have to make a financial contribution to the development of elite areas of our sport; it is a relatively narrow focus, but the upside is that we get to enjoy watching those elite players in competition for the next 20 years if it pays off!