» more from CNBC Slideshows


Friedman researched chess clubs for her book. While it may seem that there would be little expense involved in playing chess beyond the purchase of a board, a lot gets overlooked. "Most of the families I met do one tournament per month during the school year," she said. "The average tournament fee is $40. Most have private lessons, average cost $100, once a week, so $400 per month, let's say for eight months."

Outside of the school year, costs add up further. "Summer chess camp is about $500 per week, let's say two weeks per summer," she said. "One major tournament like state or national; travel fees and hotel come to around $1,500. Materials like a set, a clock and notebooks come to about $250 per year. So the total, on average, is around $5,000 per year."

Pascal Pochard-Casabianca | AFP | Getty Images