Wednesday 30 January 2019

How do you retire from chess?

With news that former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik is retiring from professional chess, I'm wondering what the actual process for doing this is. In Kramnik's case it is a little more clear cut, as he did specify 'professional' chess, and I'm assuming this means he won't be playing any high level events, at least in the near future. He has said he will now be focusing on chess education projects, so it isn't the case that he is quitting chess altogether.
There have been some famous 'retirements' over the years, some which have been reasonably permanent and some that have not. Emmanuel Lasker retired a few times in his career, but kept coming back after a period away from the board. Gary Kasparov's retirement in 2005 has been a more 'proper' retirement, although he has continued to play exhibition style events (and some competitive quickplay tournaments) since. Bobby Fischer also stopped playing after 1972 (until 1992) but he didn't so much retire as simply refuse to play anyone.
As for non-professionals, players don't so much retire, as just give up playing. Everyone now and then you might see an announcement of social media about 'taking a break from the game', although I find players who do this seem to return for the next tournament after all (As an aside I know at least one player who announces they are quitting chess after almost every loss). More commonly players just drift away from actual play, until they convince themselves that it is too hard to get back into the rhythm of club or competition chess. So not quite retired, instead, just not active.

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