Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Career Player

The other day I was having a discussion with FM Brian Jones about the 'Career Player'. This was a concept that I had probably thought about over the years, but had never formalised. The way Brian defined it was that a 'career player' is someone who will become a long term chessplayer, even if they don't make a living out of it. As an example he thought that Max Illingworth will be a 'career player', while others of his generation may not.
In doing a little research on the topic, I had a look at past winners of the Australian Junior Championship. Why I chose this sample set is due to both the fact that if a group of players 'should' stick at chess, it is those that are quite successful at it, and that I was aware that a number of winners of this title 'retired' almost immediately after winning it. Basically over the last 30 years the retirement rate is about 50%. It has been pretty constant over that time, with 4 winners in the 1980's still active, 5 winners in the 90's still playing, and surprisingly, only 5 players who won the title in the last 10 years still playing.
Will any of these players come back? I doubt it, simply because to walk away like this indicates that you aren't playing the game simply for enjoyment, but for other rewards. And once those rewards were achieved (or became unachievable) it was time to go.


Anonymous said...

Junior champions would probably be good at other things as well and come to realise that they can't fit everything in.

Mark Weeks said...

Some good juniors abandon the game when they start studying at university and discover there is much more to life than chess. They sometimes come back to the game in middle age when they have fewer demands from career and family.

Brian Jones said...

But you can fit everything in if you try! Exams, study, chess, football, politics, girls are all possible at Uni and when working (I know from first hand experience!)

Anonymous said...

Start with a rating of 700 at age 8. Retire at 2200 a few years later.

I wish they would hand back the rating points before they piss off.