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A rebuttal: A chess tournament -- entry fees and prizes

Posted By: Bill Calton
Date: Sunday, 23 June 2013, at 9:38 p.m.

In Response To: A chess tournament -- entry fees and prizes (Daniel Murphy)

“Among other differences, the chess world subsidizes its best players”

No, not really

“… and has massively greater participation by players of less than world class ability.”

Yes (and this is important!!)

Very few, in any, top US players are supporting themselves via the tournament circuit. Lessons are where the money is in chess.

GM’s get a free entry but that’s about the only perk. And note the entry is typically deducted from any prize won. Factor in travel costs and other expenses, plus income lost from lessons not given, and these tournaments are only profitable for the top few finishers.

Look at the 2013 Chicago Open chess tournament. I love this one as comparison, since it is held same weekend as Chicago Open backgammon tournament. They got about 700 players across nine sections, by rating. I didn’t do an exact count, but it looks like about ½ of the 90 players in the top section were either IMs or GMs. And while the top three places got about six thousand each, the other top players got scraps or nothing. In total, four players for $2000 or more in the top section.

Meanwhile, look at the lower sections. Eleven players cashed $2000 or more across all the lower sections. So, most GM’s make nothing, while beginners and intermediate players compete for real prize money. I am actually OK with this, but let’s not pretend the best chess players are subsidized.

I actually see backgammon and chess tournaments as similarly structured. While sponsorship (donations) can sometimes be found to cover losses and/or travel expense for certain famous players, most US chess tournaments are designed to be self-financing. That is, the organizer hopes to attract enough players / entries to cover all prizes and expenses and leave a bit left over for a small profit. Same with backgammon.

Listen to Phil. Without sponsorship, more participation is the key. To support the best players, we need more participation, more entries, more dollars.

Chess has tens of thousands of active young tournament players; backgammon a handful. Of course chess has its own problems as most young players quit the game; very few stay with the game into adulthood.

Main point is to once again listen to Phil. Grow the game by attracting new players. Very difficult to do, but I applaud all those who are trying. Imagine what the prize fund would look like if you had 700 players at the Chicago Backgammon Open.

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