An 8-year-old Israeli wins the European Chess Championship. Let’s talk money now.

Noam Sason, 8, won the European School Chess Championship for children under 9 in Rhodes, Greece. He scored 7 out of 9 and beat players from Turkey, Greece, Georgia, Romania and Ukraine.

Spectators at the 2016 World Chess Championship game in New York’s South Street Seaport

Noam’s success follows his other achievements in chess, as well as the support of his parents. Family support, both moral and financial, seems to be a requirement for young children to excel at chess. This contradicts the common thought that chess, unlike sports that require expensive equipment, such as golf or hockey, is immune to financial barriers. You always need money, apparently. We’ve spoken with chess professionals to try to figure out how much it costs to raise a chess champion, and here’s our napkin budget-scheme.

“If the kid won the U9 championship, he’s probably been studying chess since he was five,” says Nikita Kim, founder of a chess education startup. “At this age talent is predominant and most kids had similar amounts of training, usually two or three hours a week in groups and probably an hour or two a week individually.” After the age of 10, talent is phenomenally important, but the hours you put into your chess career make a difference, and I think those who have made a conscious decision to become chess professionals will the difference,” says Kim.

The average group chess lesson for kids can cost around $250 per month, and individual sessions range from $15 to $50 per hour depending on the country. Parents should also attend tournaments at least twice a year, so their children can play in a competitive setting. The average cost of a tournament, including travel and hospitality, is around $1,200 for a family.

Calculation (per year)

Costs Rising
group training $3,000
Individual training $2,000
Tournaments $2,400
Study Aids $200
Total per year $7,600

Sure, chess has proven educational benefits aside from the chance to become a world champion, but it seems the sport has financial barriers to entry: it requires a parent’s commitment to spend at least $22,000 over three years as well as investing time in going to tournaments to give their children a chance to become a chess player.