So you want to be a (chess) writer? – Chessbase News

Posted: March 16, 2020 at 1:46 am

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Just as GM Teimour Radjabov withdrew from the Candidates Tournament, due to the uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus, you may be considering skipping your next in-person chess tournament. In addition to getting your chess-fix with sessions on Play Chess, you could become a chess streamer, coach, or writer.

Teaching online chess lessons is easier than ever, with these tips from Albert Silver. Having a chess title helps a streamer or a coach build clientele.

Whether or not you are a titled player, you can write about chess. Chess outlets are looking for writers; some of them pay for articles. For example, Chess Life Kids pays $75 per page. Non-titled children writing for that magazine get paid at the same rate as adults and titled players.

Moreover, manychildrenandadultsdream of becoming writers. Forbooks, non-fiction outsells fiction. Chess writing can be non-fiction or fiction, but non-fiction is much more common. This article provides four tipsFind Topics, Query, Persistence, and Reader Feedbackfor writing.

Chess streaming is a way tomake money, if you develop a large following such as that enjoyed by Woman FIDE Master AlexandraBotez

Covering chess tournaments their winners, best games, anecdotes is the bread-and-butter of chess websites and magazines. But if fear of the Coronavirus keeps you at home, interviewing chess players can be done via email, text, chat, or phone. Lets suppose you are aware of a junior player who has just reached a rating milestone. If you have the permission of that prodigys parents, you could interview that prodigy.

One recent example from ChessBase is an articleabout D. Gukesh by Sagar Shah. Shah is an International Master. Therefore, Shah could have analyzed all the chess games himself, but he had Gukesh annotate some. If you are not a strong chess player, you can ask your interviewee to annotate all the chess games in your article. In any case, some articles, like this one, dont include chess games or positions.

The cover story for the March 2020 issue of Chess Life was written by Menachem Weber, who has journalistic credentials but no US Chess rating. 47 minutes into this podcast about Webers story, US Chess Senior Director of Strategic Communication Dan Lucas stated(47 minutes and 5 seconds) in:

To any aspiring journalists who want to specialize in chess writingweve hired many a high school student who are writing for publication for the very first timeIf youve got talent, and ability, and an interesting story to tell, please pitch it to us and you can find the contact information at our website on

My first emailed query to ChessBase was 784 words long. I introduced myself and asked to review Danny Gormallys book. I outlined what I thought would be interestingin that book, from an excerpt available at its publishers website. I also referred to Gormallys history by linking to ChessBase articles about him. Once I got the assignment, which the ChessBase editor modified to my interviewing Gormally rather than reviewing his book, I read Gormallys book and interviewed him by email. Five takeaways:

Queries are often rejected. In 2010, when Dan Lucas was editor of Chess Life, I wrote the following email to him after he had accepted my query to review the latest book by Grandmaster Andrew Soltis.

As I wrote you the Soltis query (my third one to you in the last couple days), I had two thoughts in mind:

1) IfDansays yes to this query, then its third times a charm.

2) IfDansays no, then threestrikesyoure out. (Though I would have kept trying with more queries!)

The two rejections referred to above had come after Id already written several articles for Chess Life. Even after working with an editor, there are no guarantees that your next query to that editor will be successful. Be persistent, dont give up, and hope that the editor doesnt think you are a pest.

One way to build your clips, and to get appreciation rather than rejection, is to write for free. In the US, many states and regions need written content for magazines and websites. Texas Knights (where I have a book review column) doesnt pay columnists. However, Texas Knights editor Louis A. Reed Jr. promotes each writers work and liberally hands out compliments. On the other hand, sometimes writing at the state level pays. Texas Chess Association pays the Texas Knights editor and also pays for social media posts.

When I watch television, listen to chess podcasts, view YouTube or Twitch chess broadcasts, or peruse Facebook all good hobbies for avoiding the Coronavirus I stay alert for possible chess stories. I watched The Oprah Winfrey Show for years and finally, near the end of its run, got a chess story out of it.

Writing questions and emailing them to is a great way to win $50 in USCF Sales merchandise. I have won best question three times, and each of my three winning questions have been less than 25 words long. If more people had emailed questions to that podcast, I think I would have only won once. So, write a question!

YouTube and Twitch broadcasts of chess tournaments can be sources for chess writing ideas. The Mechanics Institute Chess Clubs broadcasts have inspired three of my articles including this one for ChessBase.

On Facebook, the Eade Foundation posted about its new $1000 award for Chess Excellence, which could be turned into a query that answers What monetary awards are available for young chess players? and then lists the Arthur Award (named after Jim Eades father, Arthur Eade) along with more famous awards, such as the Frank P. Samford, Jr. Fellowship.

Comments on past articles may inspire new writing. As I wrote at the end of this article about Jennifer Yus result in the U.S. Junior Championship, Thanks to chess fan Leavenfish for hiscomment, which motivated me to write this article.I enjoy and learn from the comments on my articles; part of the fun of being published is readers feedback (hint, hint).

The Charles Bukowski poem so you want to be a writer? sets a high bar for the passion needed to become a great writer, as Bukowski was. My level of passion is lower, and I am not a great writer. For me, writing, editing, and proofreading is fun; thanks to ChessBase and its readers for this outlet.ChessBase encourages freelance writers to submit queries. Email editor[at]

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So you want to be a (chess) writer? - Chessbase News

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March 16th, 2020 at 1:46 am

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