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It's a Date

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Either someone in FIDE actually has a sense of humor, or it's an amusing coincidence that they extended the deadline for bids on the Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov match to September 25, the day that the Kramnik-Leko world championship match starts in Brissago, Switzerland. Extended deadlines are rarely good news.

I heard about the HB Global Chess Challenge a week or so ago, but didn't want to rain on Maurice Ashley's press conference. It's quite an amazing sum: a $500,000 open tournament, doubling the prize fund of the US Championship, which had claims on being the richest annual tournament in the world. When I told Kasparov about it he responded that maybe he should play in that if the Kasimdzhanov match doesn't get off the ground!

Update: As several people have pointed out, perhaps an equally amazing sum is the entry fee: $350!


Hi Mig,
Hope you will come visit our beautiful city next spring. Absolutely the best time, as the snow is usually gone by Memorial Day.

Now, exactly when did the US Champ become an Open?



Well, semi-open when they started accepting qualifiers, but point taken. Not what I meant.

Actually, I find the entrance fee the amazing sum! Open to those with the money.


Do you have any scoop on what is happening with KK match? Were there no bids or were the bids too low? If the latter, who found it to be low - FIDE or Kasparov (can't be Kasim). Even Kaspy shouldn't be objecting to low bids because:
- he makes a lot of money in many other means.
- Kramnik cannot wait forever for the unification as he is meeting his part of the bargain.

A title is a title no matter what the prize money is. There should be some give-and-take in the interest of chess unity. After unification, there is likely to be more sponsorship and everybody benefits from that. FIDE and Kaspy should be more accomodating and keep their egos aside (assuming there were bids in the first place).


I can understand the reason for a large entry fee, so to generate a large prize fund for the open section. But when I go to a tournament, I like to bring my two children with me. While I might be able to justify spending $345-$400 for my entry fee, it would be another thing altogether for me to justify (to my wife) spending that amount for my children's entry fees. There are a number of people (such as myself) who although not that good at chess (a rating just a little over 2000), enjoy playing those who are much better. So I often go to the World Open and Chicago Open in order to have the opportunity to play opponents with ratings over 2200. But with such a large entry fee, just about the only people who can afford to attend this tournament, are those who at least think they have a chance to win back some prize money.

Not being Jewish or Russian maybe I should not comment - but why is there a K-K match scheduled? I thought after the debacle in Libya that FIDE said they were going to allow those who were excluded by our new friends in Libya to compete in an alternate tournament before unification was attempted.

Steven Craig,
There's also a scholastic tournament. It's no where in the press release, or even on the Chess Challenge web site. But if you go up a level, to http://www.hbfoundation.org/index.shtml, you'll see an announcement of a scholastic tournament on the 21st, in the middle of the "adult" tournament. EF is $25, and prizes are "trophies and T-shirts". No mention of rounds, formats or sections. Seems like they haven't given it as much thought yet as the open tournament.

There are some major breakthroughs in chess tournament organization regarding the HB Global Chess Challenge:

(1) I haven't done the exact math, but taking into account the $350+ entry fee, it seems like the ratio of total prizes to entry fee is much higher in all of the sections of this tournament than it is for the sections of the World Open or any of Goichberg's tournaments. Regardless of the absolute size of the entry, the proportion paid out in prizes is more.

(2) The prize fund is NOT the big news here, though. What is big news is that Ashley has the balls to ask GMs to work for their entry fee. Instead of giving GMs a free lunch, they now have to work giving lectures or analyzing amateur games for their entry. There is now a relationship between the amateurs who are paying outrageous entry fees and the GMs who get in for free. More importantly however, is that working for the tournament director is only one step removed from working for a sponsor. And this is what chess needs: sponsorship. The big news is that Maurice Ashley has paved the way to make sponsors an integral part of the chess tournament circuit.

I plan to detail these thoughts in an upcoming issue of Chess Horizons.

Re KK: I talked with Garry about the Kasimdzhanov match yesterday when he arrived here in NY. There are discussions about a specific bid, but the bidder requested more time. Not good. Ilyumzhinov, of course, says everything is under control and going fine.

Re HB: It's a nice stat, but amateurs don't base tournament participation on proportion paid out in prizes. $300+ is simply a lot of money for most people. Add $500+ in expenses (travel, shared hotel room, food) and you've got around a thousand dollars for a five-day chess trip. Every amateur tourney player knows that even if you are rated near the top of your section you don't go in expecting to win money; it's just a bonus if you do. Adding lectures and simuls via waiving GM fees is a great idea and such make it an attractive chess vacation package for the amateurs, but it's still an expensive one and if you don't have the money it doesn't matter how attractive it is.

That's one big difference between chess and poker, where hundreds of amateurs put in thousands of dollars each to play in big events. With the chance factor it has more lottery ticket allure.

Re my attending: Are there conditions for journalists?!

Yes, Mig, the entry fee to the World Open is already outrageous, and now in this tournament the entry fee will be 50%-100% more (depending on when you enter). This is a good point. The prizes:entry ratio is just a highlight.

It's not a personal rule, but I feel uncomfortable playing in any event where the entry fee is greater than $10/game, so I agree with you that the $350+ entry fee discourages participation.

I'm hoping to outline a plan that involves "working" GMs, sponsors, and managable entry fees. In a nutshell, the plan includes GMs working for sponsors, amateurs buying sponsors' products, sponsors tracking those purchases, then deducting a certain percentage of the purchases from the entry fees. Sponsors would only subsidize tournaments by an amount proportional to their products bought. For example, if ChessBase sponsored the World Open, and I bought $500 worth of ChessBase software during the year, ChessBase might subsidize my WO entry by 10% of my yearly purchases, (or $50). Sponsors do not need to be limited to chess retailers. Ford Motor Co. could easily participate, too.

GMs would be sponsored by these same companies. GMs would "work" at large tournaments giving lectures and analyzing. Money earned from this work for these sponsors would go to the GM's entry.

These are all just idealistic ideas, in rough form.

Howard Goldowsky

Does anyone know whether Maurice and Generation Chess will be instituting a "no early draws" rule in this lucrative open?

Note that the entry fee, if you sign with a friend (who could be anyone) is really $295 (a $50 discount for both). The World Open entry fee is $250. How many people would have thought to charge what the World Open charges while giving away more than 2.5 times the prize money? It seems to me that the early bird smart entrants will be getting quite a deal, especially with all the free side events we will be providing. It's going to be a party like US chess has never seen.

Too bad you guys scheduled it during finals week or I would be up there!

Goldowsky surely overestimates the GM burden on open tournaments. Those of us who win prize money get the entry fee deducted from their checks anyway. For 15 years of playing in the US I may have missed the prize 15-20 times, altogether "stealing" about $3,000 from hard-working amateurs. Shame on me.


I assume from what you write that GMs who do not win prizes get their entry waived. If this is the case, then a tournament with 100 GM entries will be losing more money than a tournament with 5 GM entries, all else being equal.

Wouldn't it be nice for all GMs to get their entry paid for by sponsors? At the HB Global Challenge a GM needs to work for his entry fee. This is the way I think it should be all the time. If a GM wins a prize he should not have to deduct his entry. Why should a prize winner have to pay his entry and a non-prize-winning GM get his entry waived?

In my opinion, the Open section should be for the professionals.

Howard Goldowsky


I don't know the extent of your expertise in organizing chess tournaments and where you going to find your mythical "sponsors". Good luck.
One thing I know, it's unfair to demand that GM's "work" for the organizers doing lectures, lessons or whatever on top of playing two games a day (that's 12 hours of work already) every day. Don't you think that the quality of the product (our games) might be affected by overtime work?

Will the HB Challenge be a US Championship Qualifier ?


With all due respect, we can not expect sponsors to just appear out of the thin air without making money in return. What chess needs is good business, not philanthropy. At big tournaments like the World Open or the US Open, I DO expect the GMs to work. Michael Jordan doesn't make millions from McDonals by sitting on his ass, he does TV commercials. His face is (or was) plastered on billboards all over the world. Tiger Woods works for his sponsorship, etc, etc.

The basic fact remains: The current system DOES NOT WORK. Now, I don't expect McDonalds to be throwing money at chess to the first GM who agrees to do a commercial. However, I DO think that chess pros are more like tennis or golf "pros", the lesser known professionals who are not good enough to be sponsored by major companies, but who are good enough to work for local tennis clubs or golf courses.

What is stopping Goichberg or HB from hiring a half dozen GMs to "work" (lecture, analyze, etc) at a tournament? This in theory would attract more amateur entries. This seems to be what Ashley is doing. We shall see if it works.

Yermo, with due respect, are you for or against the HB idea of GMs working one hour of their time for their entry fee? Will you play? Will you pay your own way or work your hour?

Howard Goldowsky

Please let me just add an answer to your implied question: No, I am not experienced at organizing chess tournament, although I have been part of the amateur chess scene for 18 years. I'm throwing out ideas, hoping that something sticks.

Yes, the status quo works OK. But I think we all agree that it can be much better.

Howard Goldowsky

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 19, 2004 11:52 AM.

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