How well respected is Chess as a hobby?

spherical_cow's picture
Rank: Baboon | 135

Apparently, there are a few articles proposing that competitive chess players are good at market roles (e.g. trader, PM). One of the MANY examples is Luke McShane, a chess GM, who went on to become a trader at GS.

I used to play chess competitively at elementary school and then took a few years off. I just started playing again, on Chess.com, and got a rating of 1.5k, both blitz and rapid. If I study and play seriously, I feel I can reach 2.0k in the game (probably corresponds to 1.7k OTB).

How many of you actually play chess or know someone in the industry who does? If enough people are playing, I figured it could be a terrific talking point in coffee chats and interviews.

Comments (71)

May 8, 2020

Was very competitive at it as a kid (below 10) and then stopped. I still enjoy playing but I'm in this weird in-between where I can easily beat bad players, but I stand no chance against people that play frequently.

I think it's a cool thing to have in your interest section on your CV, though for don't only speak about that as it may make you come across as super nerdy.

    • 3
  • Incoming Analyst in S&T - Other
May 8, 2020

I wouldn't have thought "nerdy" applies to chess as it does Star Wars cosplay or something, though I get your point.

May 8, 2020
Incoming Analyst in S&T - Other:

I wouldn't have thought "nerdy" applies to chess as it does Star Wars cosplay or something, though I get your point.

might be even nerdier honestly given how mainstream SW is

  • Investment Analyst in ER
May 8, 2020

I was editing Wikipedia as a hobby for years (like really seriously, got to admin level and attended conferences on it). Whenever I mention it, I am called a nerd :(

    • 6
Funniest
  • Teller in Other
May 8, 2020

stfu nerd

    • 34
    • 1
May 9, 2020
Investment Analyst in ER:

I was editing Wikipedia as a hobby for years (like really seriously, got to admin level and attended conferences on it). Whenever I mention it, I am called a nerd :(

PM me!

Most Helpful
May 8, 2020

It's funny and reminds me of a time I had an informational last year with someone who had chess as their hobby in their resume. I asked what they thought about Carlsen vs. Caruana (the 2018 world championships that went to the last game), and they just said "Oh...I don't know... I mean I like chess and I played a lot as a kid..."

Another student put "triathlon" and our MD is a triathlete, and asked which ones they had done and their times. The student said "Oh I mean, you know, I'm thinking about training for a triathlon"

So my general advice is if you really have a passion, put it on your resume, but definitely don't fake it. I get the feeling people even B.S. the interests section of their resume, yikes, don't do that as you may really run into someone who actually pursues that as a passion.

    • 9
May 8, 2020

I'm a personal fan of listing "reading" as a hobby.

Sure, it's of interest to many, but does it do anything to increase the odds that you're remembered come decision time? No.

If I do follow-up, I like to learn more about the kind of books read as well as the frequency. Quite telling.

    • 1
May 8, 2020

Carlsen is just a beast at rapid chess! Tbf though whilst I enjoy playing, I really don't follow the scene.

At some point my associate and I had a chess game going on in the office on an empty desk and we'd play a move whenever passing by and had the time, was good fun!

    • 1
May 8, 2020

Lol this happenned to me as well.

I wrote boxing as my hobby (competed in high school) and still train regularly but I don't really follow the professional scene. It turns out one of the MDs was a big fan and he was like "Oh that's sick, who do you think's gonna win in this coming match-up XXX vs XXX?" and he seemed very skeptical when I said I don't follow the scene.

I still got the internship.

    • 2
May 8, 2020

don't throw MS! I en passanted all the bitches and won my middle schools chess tournament two years in a row ;)

    • 3
May 14, 2020

Yes that weird spot where you're being whooped by really good 10 year olds

May 14, 2020

Ahah, good memories. I vividly remember as a 6-7 years old kid, playing against 17 years old people (in my country local tournaments were sub 18 and over 18 - then for the championships leading to the national championship there were more categories). But anyways, I was sat at a table with three 15+years old guys that were chatting about god knows what (and I didn't get a single thing - looking back surely girls) and I was eating my kitkat (and putting chocolate all over my hands/face). They were trash talking me a bit at first. And I ended up winning against all 3, they asked me for tips LOL.

May 8, 2020

You're about 1,000% more likely to connect with someone in banking over a sport or active hobby than over chess.

    • 1
May 8, 2020

Unless they bring it up first during interviews/coffee by saying, "Oh you play chess? I do too," I wouldn't proactively talk about chess and how you think it'll help you in your finance game.

It's definitely one of the sweatiest sounding hobbies.

    • 1
May 8, 2020

This is great advice for basically every "interest" on your resume. What we do is scan the interest line for something to talk about, and bring it up in order to make the conversation more interesting (rather than your finance "spark" and "what's your favorite deal")

When we're ready to talk about that stuff, I'll ask about it. Until then, most people (with some exceptions) should stick to the playbook.

    • 1
May 9, 2020
HNNNG:

It's definitely one of the sweatiest sounding hobbies.

sweaty? lol ok

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Prospect in Other
May 9, 2020

Sweaty is slang for try hard

    • 2
May 8, 2020

My guess is that not too many investment bankers play chess. I do not think it would be a negative, though. I played when I was young but never took it all that seriously. i had a friend who played a lot as a kid and ended up making a business out of it.

May 8, 2020

At this rate, current analysts were learning Python and R while studying for the SAT in preparation for matriculating to "targets." No time for chess.

    • 1
May 8, 2020

Was curious about this as well. My parents forced me to play the game growing up. On top of joining a plethora of clubs, I had private lessons as well on a weekly basis. I competed in most regional tournaments and a couple state tournaments up until the age of 12, so it definitely helped shape my identity growing up. While I was never on a GM path, I was damn good and would - likely - beat anyone that doesn't consider themself a "serious"-enough chess player, even to this day. I retained the game pretty well.

Unfortunately since then, I haven't been able to play as much. I have the Chess.com app and play games frequently with randos, but I don't have anyone in my network to play with for fun.

    • 1
May 8, 2020

Same boat here ahah. Still sometimes play with my father/grand father when I see them, but its very one sided

May 8, 2020

I would say it's as impressive as being good in monopoly.

    • 1
    • 3
May 8, 2020

Holy sh** kids. Just enjoy your hobbies. Try to design them for leverage in networking or career advancement and you'll die a sad, unfulfilled person. People will be more engaged and interested in something you're passionate about than they will be by the simple fact that you do something superficially in the same vein as something they also happen to like.

Next, someone please rate the prestige of my preferred flavored sparking water brands. I've been going La Croix, but worry about brand dilution from the "faux French" factor. I think switching to Spindrift might really accelerate my exit ops in dried fruit snacks. Thx.

    • 8
    • 1
  • Prospect in Other
May 8, 2020

ok intern

    • 2
May 8, 2020

He's right you virgin

Array
    • 5
May 8, 2020

Oh, I see. Despite my flag I haven't been an intern in 5 or 6 years.

May 8, 2020

I have always enjoyed it purely as a hobby, but it can't hurt to find out whether your hobby is something that is positively looked upon in your industry

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 8, 2020

I'm at what some view as one of the nerdier banks but off the top of my head can think of a bunch of guys who play chess in down time at the office. (Through computer against other analysts) Unsure about the ladies or senior levels but I would estimate a solid 15-20% of male analysts at my bank play a bit.

    • 1
May 8, 2020

And which bank could this be?

May 8, 2020

I'm sort of a semi-pro at chess and I would say it actually has a pretty good rep in finance. I even know MDs at PE and IB firms through chess, but I've been unable to network them into a banking internship.

During job fairs at my uni one IB firm even brings a chess set, but to be fair they're sponsors of Carlsen and challenges students to play the Play Magnus app.

In my case I should rather stop putting so much time into chess, get my shit together and really try to get an internship.

    • 3
Jun 5, 2020

FIDE Rating?

Jun 6, 2020
dedline:

FIDE Rating?

Absolute crap. I don't even want to mention it. I'm a little bit embarrassed, TBH.

Most of my rating was from going to nationals back in HS and getting my ass handed to me.

Jun 12, 2020

Slightly above 2400

May 8, 2020

I was interviewing a prospect SA with a senior associate, the prospect had chess on their resume, the senior associate laughed and said "take that sh*t off your resume." I didn't think it was that bad but oh well

May 9, 2020

I have chess on my resume and play it all the time. It's helped

    • 2
May 9, 2020

Just out of curiosity as I could use your help. I'm a final year bachelor and will start my 2-year Master in the fall. Studying at a really well regarded business school in my country, but I've botched up all my interviews for internships and I've only been doing part-time at a prop-trading firm and my BSc GPA is kind of shitty. I've still managed to get a few interviews partly due to my accomplishments with chess, though.

Now my question is, if I want to do banking, am I absolutely screwed with no relevant internships (might still have time to do 1-2 during Masters if I get it together). Or can I get FT offers after Master's if a get good GPA's in my MSc? Or is it just time to lick my MD-chessfriends feet? Thanks for your feedback?

    • 1
May 9, 2020

Anyone want to get a WSO chess group going? We could even play each other kind of like the one for poker

Array

    • 5
May 9, 2020

I'm in!

May 16, 2020

I'm down! PM me if you get a group going.

May 9, 2020

Lotta people will have kids that play chess, competitively and otherwise. If you play, love it and can talk to it, definitely put as an interest and see if someone picks it up. You could use it as a response to "so what do you do in your spare time,"... "I really enjoy chess and played competitively as a student, have been working my game lately." I think anything that displays passion and interests outside of work/school that shows your enthusiasm and personality is great. If it brings a smile to your face, confidence and an upbeat tone to your voice that attracts people to listen and engage, that's what you're going for.
So maybe it's not a specific interest pointing to trading, but more of a solid intellectual yet fun pursuit.
If someone's kid plays, be very generous. Ask questions, show enthusiasm, suggest the app you use for the child to try. Anything you can give of yourself is great. People remember that.

May 9, 2020

You shouldn't pick up something because it's impressive, you should pick it up because you like it.

That being said, I have never met a chess player who I thought was stupid.

May 9, 2020

Peter Thiel use to be top 10 in the country in his age group. Then went to Stanford Law. Then started some company called Paypal.

    • 1
May 9, 2020

I think Luke McShane is no longer a trader and moved back to chess. Seen him playing top level chess quite recently. I played chess for about 9-10 years and have a Fide Master title and when I tell someone that I have it, people are usually impressed and view it as a positive/intelectual ability thing.

    • 4
Jun 5, 2020

A FIDE Master title is insane. As a Class A patzer with chess mastery as one of my lifetime goals, I immediately recognize how large of a feat your achievement is. What do you do in your professional career? Do you still keep up with the game? FIDE Master would be amazing, but I've heard the road from 2100 - 2300 is absolutely brutal. I may have to settle for the more lenient USCF designations in the future ;)

Jun 5, 2020

Thank you! Yeah, not many people actually know what kind of an achievement this is :) I am still a student, studying finance and I don't study chess anymore but follow big tournaments and play often online. I am planning to revise/improve my openings and attend blitz tournaments (don't feel playing classic chess anymore). The difference between 2100 to 2300 is significant, but it is doable if you have time and put the effort. If you have the resources I advice you to find a good chess coach. You will learn much more and quicker.

May 9, 2020

Just to add my personal experience, I have listed Chess as an interest on my resume since I applied for internships back in school. Not once has it been brought up in an interview.

I also have Bourbon on there. That's gotten a lot more action.

May 9, 2020

Anyone else find it awkward that the rating are abbreviated with "k" instead of spelling out 1500?

Array

    • 1
May 10, 2020

,

Array
May 10, 2020

Poker > chess

    • 3
    • 3
May 11, 2020

chess is great - poker is great - triathlon is great - etc...
If someone did it themselves they'll pick it up and you can chat about it in your interview. Only some insecure idiot would look down at your hobbies.

I had salsa dancing when I was younger for my first bb job (removed it since) - but one of the guy chuckled at it and liked it, he never salsa danced but he asked me about it, I still ended up with the job. (I only had the dancing thing because my ex had me take a bunch of classes so that I could dance with her as she was a professional, long story but the MD liked it).

As you grow in your career people don't really care as much at your interests and those get asked about a lot less. When you are young - the only thing that sets you apart is your interests - the 4.0 GPA the two internships at GS then blackstone are expected.

    • 1
May 11, 2020

unless you compete in tournaments or run some sort of organization relating to it, keep chess off the resume.

May 12, 2020

Honestly, why does it matter if it is respected or if it is not? Sometimes it feels like people in this forum just want affirmation for anything they want do in life.

If you like something, just freaking do it, man. Not every single thing you do your your life has to be approved by others.

May 12, 2020
KanxLokcart:

... people in this forum just want affirmation for anything they want do in life.

Don't we all?

  • Quant in HF - EquityHedge
May 12, 2020

I have fine cheeses as an interest on mine.

I was asked about it in an interview after a bunch of grueling technicals. And not jokingly; they asked me to tell them about some good cheeses. So I walked them through my ideal cheese plate (I do v much like cheese).

Got the job.

Takeaway: put it on if you truly are interested, otherwise don't; people will ask you about it. Also, quants are weird.

May 13, 2020

I have it on my resume it comes up once in a while in conversation at work or when I was interviewing. I used to compete in tournaments when I was younger but towards high school stopped playing in the tourneys. I usually have a favorite opening in my head if they ask me about it. People who like it will talk about it more. Like you, I am playing on Chess.com and playing more now with everything going on. It is staying on my resume since I think it shows a strategic and analytical mindset.

May 14, 2020

1500 on chess.com is inaccurate. You probably have around 1200, don't play around

    • 1
  • Intern in PropTrad
Jun 5, 2020
Comment
Jun 6, 2020
Comment

Array