Chess Players Who Quit
Garry Kasparov retired from competitive chess in March, 2005. He gave up competitive chess after playing chess and being the best in the world for 20 years (1985 to 2005). He gave up chess to devote more time to politics. He is now thinking of running for the presidency of the world chess federation (FIDE).
Other prominent chess players gave up chess while in their prime, such as Paul Morphy at age 22, and Robert Fischer. Here are a few more players who gave up the game.
Kim Steven Commons (1951- ) was an international master who had won the California championship once and the American Open twice. He was a member of the victorious USA team at the Haifa Chess Olympiad in 1976, having the best score of the event. He gave up chess to become a real estate agent.
In the 1950s, Jim Cross (1930- ) was a rising chess master. At 18 he won the California State Championship and tied in the U.S. Junior Championship. But when his chess mentor, International Master Herman Steiner died of a heart attack at the age of 50 while playing chess, Jim decided to give up chess.
Max Dlugy (1966- ) became a Grandmaster in 1986. By the 1990s, he gave up chess to become a Wall Street securities trader. He had answered an ad by Bankers Trust and was hired and became involved in hedge funds. . Eventually, he became a principal of the Russian Growth Fund. In 2005, he was arrested in Moscow on securities fraud charges and was facing 10 years in a Russian prison. In December 2005, all the charges against him were dropped. He did play in the 2006 US Chess Championship and had a plus score.
Oldrich Duras (1882-1957) was one of the top players in the world from 1906 to 1914. He then met and married a wealthy woman and withdrew from chess, becoming a civil servant and, occasionally, a chess journalist. Duras requested ½ year off to prepare and play in chess tournaments, but his employer refused his request. During his retirement, he became involved in chess problem composition and was ranked one of the finest problemists of his day.
Reuben Fine (1914-1993) was one of the best chess players in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. He gave up chess to become a psychoanalyst, earning a doctorate in psychology. He devoted himself to a New York psychiatric practices and book writing.
Andrija Fuderer (1931-2011) was one of the strongest Yugoslav players in the mid 1950s. He then turned to chemical research, earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Zagreb, and retired from serious chess play. He became a famous inventor and patented a compression process for refrigeration.
Albert Beauregard Hodges (1861-1944) was a former U.S. chess champion. He won it in 1894. After accomplishing his life’s goal of becoming the U.S. chess champion, he announced he was retiring from chess. He then became an accountant and businessman and gave up chess.
Ignaz Kolish (1837-1889) was one of the strongest chess players in the world in 1867. In 1867, he won the strongest chess tournament of the year, in Paris, ahead of Steinitz. He them met Baron Albert Rothschild and became involved in banking. He gave up chess and became a millionaire in the Viennese banking world and became a baron himself.
Lisa Lane (1938- ) was U.S. women’s champion in 1959-62 and 1966. She withdrew from the Hastings Reserves tournament stating she was in love. She gave up chess in 1966, got married, and started a natural food business in New York.
Srecko (1923-2011) and Vera Nedeljkovic (1924- ) were one of the strongest husband and wife chess playing partners. He was an international master and she was one of the strongest women players in the world. In the 1950s, he gave up chess to become a medical doctor (working with Dr. Michael DeBakey, a world-renowned cardiac surgeon), and she gave up chess to be a physicist. Their son became President of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Belgrade University.
Ken Rogoff (1953- ), pictured above, became a Grandmaster in 1978. He then retired from chess, earned a PhD in Economics from M.I.T. in 1980, and became the chief economist at the World Bank. He is currently a professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University.
Gersh Rotlewi (1889-1920) was one of the strongest Polish players from 1909 to 1911. He took 2nd in the 1909 Russian championship, behind Alekhine. In 1911, he took 4th place, ahead of Alekhine, Marshall, Nimzovich, Vidmar, Tartakower, and others. The next year, at the age of 23, he dropped out of chess and never played again.
Carlos Torre (1905-1978) was one of the strongest players in the world from 124 to 1926. He defeated Emanuel Lasker and drew with Capablanca and Alekhine. He then had a nervous breakdown from the stress of chess and the social gathering invitations. His fiancée left him and married another man, and his teaching offer at the University of Mexico was turned down because Torre did not have any academic credentials. He gave up chess in 1926, never to play again.
Josh Waitzkin (1976- ) was one of the most promising juniors in the United States. He won the National Scholastic Chess Championship 8 times. In 1994, he won the U.S. Junior Championship. He was the subject in the book and the movie called Searching for Bobby Fischer. He then gave up chess and became involved in martial arts. He won the World Championship Tai Chi Chuan twice and won 13 National Championships.
– Bill Wall