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HB Foundation Foundered

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Tom Ewers sends this in as coming from a Minnesota chess discussion group. Apparently the HB Foundation, which sponsored the huge HB Challenge tournament in May this year, is kaput. That event didn't get the number of players it needed to be considered a financial success, at least not according to the pre-event comments of the organizers. Their website is now offline.

Unfortunately, the HB foundation went completely out of business as of Nov 30. Their 2 million dollar endowment now has nothing in it. There are a group of concerned folks doing a letter writing campaign to get it started again...let me know if you are interested in helping.

Brian Ribnick -- HB Foundation Advisory Board Member

That's a lot of money to go through. A shame, as they had some interesting projects even without the big tournament. If you have more information, send it to me or post it below and I'll move it up here. [Update: HB Challenge organizer Maurice Ashley has posted at length below.]


This is a request for help: Does anyone happen to have texts of the HB Global Chess Challenge's "Tournament Policies" and "Ratings Policy"? I have a need for those two documents, which I never bothered to copy off the (now-defunct) HB Web site, because I took it for granted that I could always link to them from their URL.

If a reader of Daily Dirt has a copy of either or both documents, I would be grateful if you would email them to me (preferably as Word or Adobe attachments), at: jacobs310@optonline.net. Thank you.

You can find them in the Google cache of the site.

Go to google and search for

hb global tournament faq/policies chess

and it will come up second or third. Click on CACHED and you'll get the cached verion.

(Note: use only the exact search string above. changing anything, even capitalization, may mean you won't find it.)


Sorry, just realized you wanted the full version. I don't think google caches those. The method I mentioned will turn up the FAQ, if that's of any help.

I was under the impression that the HB Foundation was making a contribution to chess with the big tournament. I did not think that they wanted it to be financially successful. that was never going to happen. there were far too many things wrong with the way it was setup to be a financial success.

Done correctly it could have been financially successful. but to do that you have to run it for financial success. the business decisions have to be made based on financial success.

the $500,000 prize fund was not the problem.


Duif, meet your new friend: http://www.tinyurl.com

I was amazed at how little the HB event was promoted after it got underway. No news, no photos, no releases, nil. After the initial (far, far in advance) materials were sent out, we never heard anything. There wasn't much in the way of news on the site either. Clearly they lost interest once the sign-ups were done. I took this to mean they had already decided there wouldn't be another one, or perhaps not anything else at all in chess. Daily reports at ChessBase would have reached hundreds of thousands of people.

Heh. Thanks, Mig. OK, the tiny URL for the Yahoo cache of the HB Global Challenge tournament policies word doc is


Regarding the event itself, my understanding is that
a) the foundation's charter involved promoting chess within Minnesota before the big event was ever conceived
b) The intention was for the event to break even, so that it would not drain other foundation resources
c) they wanted to see what kind of an impact the event had on the local Minnesota scholastic chess community (their primary service group) before deciding whether to do another.

Previously they had done things like give small college scholarships to Minnesota kids with high chess ratings.

I have no idea what happened to the Foundation after the event, but I think it was always a question as to whether there would be another even it were very successful on a global scale. The 'success test" was always the impact it had locally, so press at chessbase.com was probably less important to them than coverage in the local newspaper.


Duif, on the face of it, it sounds like there was at least a little bit of a mismatch between HB's goals, and that of their marquee figure, Maurice Ashley. I'm sure his reason for fronting the event was not merely to promote scholastic chess in Minnesota. Yet, if you read his detailed account of the tournament's genesis (it was published in Chess Life, I think), there is no clue that he and Molohan et al could ever have been at cross-purposes.


I'm not on the inside of any of the discussions, but judging from interviews given at the time, I'd expect that everyone assumed all the various goals could be met in the one event. It's quite common even in charity events for there to be multiple goals without there being a "mismatch."

I thought some of the prepublicity for the event was really well done. The main thing that concerned ne as the date--coming as it did near the end of the school year, I do know some scholastic players and organizers who felt they couldn't afford a school day trip at that time. But it may have been the case that that was the only date available.


I think the organizers always had unrealistic expectations - they had a huge prize fund, and expected to get 4000 entries. I don't know if there are that many serious chess players in the entire USA (the kind that would pay the large entry fee, hotel costs, travel expenses, etc.).

Doubling a prize fund might double the number of entries when you're dealing with small prize funds, but doubling (or more) the World Open's prize fund won't get you double the chess players.

Next year's World Open is very similar to this year's HB Challenge in prizes and entry fees. Apparently Goichberg thinks he can make a profit.

Goichberg's entry fees look somewhat higher than for the HB challenge, and his $500,000 prize fund is based on 1800 entries, not 4000. :) Also, only 60% of prize fund is guaranteed, so if less entries, he won't take a blood bath.

I'm surprised that the HB Foundation spent their $2Mill and couldn't stimulate interest (interest defined as 4000 warm bodies) in chess in the single state of Minnesota without realizing that for a measly 10K and a Final Cut Pro Editor they could have ignited a country-wide revolution of chess popularity on TV. Assuming they had a Sam Sloan-like marketing genius on board, of course. How could they have missed this "obvious" plan? Oh well.


The HB tournament suffered for one very obvious reason; the timing was just ridiculous. It was held at a point in time when there was no long weekend or vacation period, and people would have been fools to take time off of work to pay so much money and enter the event. Had it been held around a holiday, when people would not have had to miss school and work in order to participate, then attendance would have been higher. Maurice told me that he didn't want to conflict with any of the Goichberg tournaments (although the timing affected the Chicago Open, which was held a few weeks later and after everyone had already spent their money going to the HB event), but I can't help thinking that it was this type of seemingly random date schedule was a huge contributor to the downfall of this event. A large prize fund will not convince the majority of people to take unneccesary risks to show up in Minnesota in the middle of May. There were so many people who said "If only it was held at a different time...", and while the prize fund was appealing, everybody knew that there was no guarantee of earning any of it, so the risk was unreasonable. Goichberg's events succeed as much because of timing as because of prize funds; hold the World Open around Halloween instead of Independence Day and see how much business comes along.



The worst part about the demise of HB is the impact it will have on future foundation efforts. Just another "proof" among many that chess is not worthy of great financial investment.

I also believe the whole concept was ill-conceived---if its goal was to further chess. Large prize funds should be the result/reflection of the progress chess is making. One-time mega-prize funds cannot create what HB and Ashley believed it could.

Even so, those commenting on advertising, timing etc... are absolutely right. It could have been so much better.

Two million dollars (or some significant portion of it) could do a whole lot more than the HB Global event did.

Continental Chess and AF4C are great models for long term impact.

If I were a resident of Minnesota I would be pretty discouraged.

Nice try, GM Ashley. Sorry it didn't work out, but I'm sure it wasn't for lack of effort.

Some time ago (I can't remember if it was before or after the HB), IM Jack Peters was on Fred Wilson's Chessfm show and they touched on the subject of big events like the HB and World Open. Peters was dead set against them and, I believe, thought they were actually bad for the health of chess in the USA. He never fleshed out his reasons but I suppose they wouldn't be hard to guess at correctly.

I have always enjoyed the big events. They are like chess conventions with the other activities going on and so many top players there. However, I now wonder if the HB's (or any other potential foundation's) money would have been better spent creating small(ish) one or two day tournaments (with reasonable time controls) across the country. It may be going too far to say they are a dying breed but there aren't as many of them as there once was, from what I can tell. Of course, I don't think this would have provided the HB much better of a return on its money.

Chess needs more local clubs and tournaments before it need another behemoth tournament like the HB.

P.S. Maliq, you are quite correct about the HB affecting the Chicago Open. But the Chicago Open was the following week after the HB. Perhaps if there had been a few weeks between them, the damage might have been a little less.

Maybe HB should have tried to join with Goichberg and had the HB event on the Memorial Weekend. with the Chicago Open being part of the HB in a sense somehow.

I dont think the $500,000 prize fund was the problem. I think that chess can do a $500,000 tournament. and I think Goichberg is going to show it can be done.

Looking back at it after the fact. It now apprears that the money would have done more for Minn chess if they had sponsored many weekend chess tournaments. something with a reasonable prize fund and low entry fees. designed for the local Minn players. Having weekend tournaments could encourage weekday chess clubs to form.

Another excellent way is to hire chess teachers and pay them. then have them teach chess in schools. maybe free to the school system.

I know they had $2 million but I did not think they spent $2 million on the HB tournament. did they really lose a large amount of the $2 million on the Tournament. hard to believe.


Sometimes it is not the answers we get. The real problem is the questions we ask.

As I remember Maurice in chess life. he said he received a phone call saying they wanted to hold a big tournament. etc.

Maybe that was the wrong question.

Maybe they should have called up Susan Polgar and said. we want to promote chess in Minn and how can we get the most bang for the dollar.

I am sure they would have received an entirely different answer.


but why would I want to give money to someone who had $2,000,000 and blew it real fast. Obviously they dont know how to handle money. they spend it like water.

Another $2,000,000 with these people and it will be gone again. I believe they would blow $10,000,000. there is not enough money. they will blow it again and again.

I want to give my money to someone who has demonstrated they know how to use it.

but HB advertising was all EGO. EGO EGO. that was all we were ever presented with. Everything about that tournament was EGO driven. so the EGO ran out of money. that is what always happens to EGO.

Blowing $2,000,000 just like that is a disgrace. But that is what EGO does all the time every time.

Having already admitted you know nothing about the HB Foundation and nothing about Susan Polgar, I'm glad you aren't in charge of any actual money. And please take the cut-and-paste blather about Susan to her blog, if you don't mind. I don't see the reason for you to post the exact same praise for her off-topic in item after item here. It's starting to look suspicious, or at least weird.

I communicated with Maurice and he didn't give details, but I will encourage him to post here.


Tommy, your business acumen is very questionable.

Mig, everyone knows Susan Polgar(or better put a certain side-kick known as PT) is the hottest thing(or the only thing actually) in chess business right now. I think Tommy is probably right that Susan Polgar might have done better. Of course this is pure speculation as she wasn't offered or probably available to do the job. This is a blog and now you're editing people's content? What is it like a newspaper column or a book. Lord knows how many of my posts have been repetitve, misconceived or garbage. I hate to think what happened to them.

Chess business? Business?

There are quite a few knowledgable, involved people who post here and before the comments become overrun with "repetitve, misconceived or garbage" I would like them to have a chance at it. I police the comments of recent items that are still active so we can attempt a semblance of intelligent discussion, which encourages other people with actual information to share. This is what turns this blog into a resource, not just a place for people who like to see their words up in lights.

There are also message boards here. Everyone is more than welcome to post there all day, all night. I don't need hijacks and trolls here when there are people interested in the topic and who don't want to sift through a bunch of garbage to find the informed posts. I would never edit content to misrepresent a poster's views. But I will delete entire off-topic posts and trolls, offensive material, and attemps to hijack threads.

I don't require registration and I don't hand out posting permissions like special awards because people from all over have useful and interesting things to say. But don't mistake this for a message board. It drives away valuable voices.

I didn't get any impression of ego-based promotion regarding the HB Global Challenge. If anything, there was a little less personality promotion than I would have liked to see, although they did a very nice job contacting local media as titled pre-registrants were confirmed.

Both Maurice and Susan are great promoters of chess, and both can achieve any of a dozen different goals. That's where we run into the same chess problem: which measurement should be used to assess the success of any one "chess promotion."

I don't know what the specific goals were for the organizers of the event (and there may have been several), or whether they succeeded in meeting them. And I don't know what part, if any, finances played in the closing of the Foundation later (charitable organizations founder just as often because key volunteers burn out as for funds).

Is there any other competitor community that doesn't distinguish between scholastic, amateur, and professional "promotion"? I guess our strength is our weakness: when anyone can compete, everyone can argue over how things should best be run.


I was made aware that there was a big discussion going on at this site with much speculation about the HB Global. While I try to stay away from some folks who live to criticize, I think it makes sense to say a couple of words about what really happened.

First of all, the HB Global was a fund-raising initiative, meant to raise money to help more kids learn chess and to give scholarship money to deserving chess-playing youngsters. It was not simply a way to promote adult chess or even professional chess, as many people would wish. What this meant is that the promoters wanted to see a return that would allow them to continue to build on their good work. At the same time, they had no desire to crush any existing tournament (hence the time of year it was done so as not to conflict with anyone else's events).

Now, there are some obvious things to consider. One is that given a choice, I would have seen to it that the tournament was held on the East Coast (for obvious reasons)instead of holding it in remote Minnesota where the foundation is located. Second, I would have done it in the summer when kids were off and folks were more apt to take time off from work. I guess its easy to suppose that we sort of randomly decided when and where to do this after the fact. Third, it would have been safer not to risk such a large sum of money in the hope that chess players would show up in support of it. This I can agree with, but I wonder just how much worse a turn-out we would have gotten in that case since folks would have seen no compelling reason to make the trek up to Minnesota.

Now, some have speculated (in completely bizarre fashion) that the foundation might have "blown" all of its endowment of 2 million dollars! The fact is they lost a tenth of that spending it on the event. Because the idea did not work the way they wanted to (and it would only have worked if with the full support of chessplayers), they decided that the rest of the money wsa best spent elsewhere. Some have more reasonably suggested that it would have been better to spend the money on teachers, books, equipment and the like. That's what they were doing before they decided to hold the event! It's real simple folks: they wanted to find a way for the foundation to fund itself, they thought that this was it, and it didn't work fast enough. I believe it still would have if they had waited it out and tweaked some things (location, time of year, prize fund). However, it was not my money to spend and the fact that chessplayers did not show in the right numbers (those who did, I am eternally grateful) was very discouraging (as are some of the comments I am reading here now.) It is well within the sponsor's rights to decide what to do with their money; that money can be spent in many more ways than just chess. I am very saddened that that decision was made, but again, it's not my money to spend.

Now, the fact that Bill Goichberg has raised his prizes across the board is interesting. The World Open prize fund looks strangely familiar. I wonder how many people will say to Bill that he is being dumb doing this (offering $500K in prizes with $300K guaranteed). Bill is a very astute businessman and I imagine he has made the best evaluation of this than anyone on this site (including me) could make. If he is ready to throw his hat in the ring (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars), I can guarantee that it was only after a very careful analysis of the final numbers. I'm sure the truth will only be known in time; my intuition is that the HB Global will get its due in time for raising the general level of prizes in the States (although some people will always try to find fault).

One fact that always bothers me is that there are a group of skeptics who believe that sponsors should always lose money, that chess is never going to be big so why even try. It's impossible to disprove these folks and recent history (which includes Kasparov's failed attempts here in the States) suggests that they are right. For these folks, it's better that we sit right where we are, playing chess on-line and going to random Swisses forever. They may in the end be proven right, but I doubt that will stop people like myself from trying to truly promote this game we love.

As for me, the whole process was very tiring and took two years off my chess career. I will continue to promote chess in the best way I can, and hope that there are many others who will try to elevate our grand game, especially to the benefit of our young people. It's a goal that I think is well worth it.

Have a wonderful holiday season everyone.
Maurice Ashley

Mig, to say that on any given thread there are many of informed people might be slightly exaggerated. Most of the posters are Daily Dirt followers, some of which have intelligent positions without necessarily being some sort of expert. Half the people speak with their eyes and ears closed. In a way this can add to the fun but I'll agree that too much of this can make it just unpleasant. Of course this is a great resource, and if you know anything about chess, you can easily scan through the list of bloggers for names like Alexei Shirov or Emil Sutovsky or whatever. My point was that you should not categorically judge this post just because it mentioned Susan Polgar. I guess in most senses, it was quite irrelevant. Still the idea that maybe it was run by the wrong guy, who at the time seemed like the dream organizer, could be very interesting for some. Chess business? Why of course. This is what it boils down to. Perhaps promotion is a better word. No one in chess can do (self)promotion like Susan Polgar except for Kasparov, but he plays on a different level. This is a perfect example, she has a massive group of fans that run around like zombies going, "Susan Polgar is great!!" This is something impressive. More impressive is that she has done this within a year out of retirement, having played just two tournaments. Of course it is far fetched. It would be much better to address many of the interesting ideas presented in the blog. But to scold one innocent guy who wasn't being a jackass, which so many people are, and who said something even vaguely relevant, rubs some the wrong way.

Thanks GM Ashley for providing us with some interesting facts to talk about. When I first heard about Bill Goichberg's prize hikes, my first thought was thank you Maurice Ashley. My second was, that I am not sure Goichberg has emphasized it enough to the general chess players. In a way, I feel like this North American Open in Las Vegas will serve as something of a test whether increased prizes can be funded in chess. I'll agree with you, though, that, knowing Goichberg, this was not just some reactionary decision on his part. I just want to add that I really enjoyed the HB tournament, despite playing like a dog.

This isn't about the Polgar references, DP. The post was annoying because it was off-topic and he posts the same (off-topic) thing in many of his comments, with the exact same wording. This is rude and weird. (That he goes to the trouble of posting through an anonymized service and that associates of Susan have been found spamming newsgroups in her favor in the past are additional negatives on this count, but it would be annoying regardless of the subject matter. I certainly feel Susan earns and deserves the PR she has received. I've defended her so-called self-promotion on many occasions here.) As for the HB, he doesn't seem to know who ran it, how it was run, what did or didn't go wrong, or what he or anyone else would have done differently. It may as well have been about pea soup recipes and how Susan Polgar would make much better pea soup.

Being uninformed is not a crime, nor is posting while uninformed. But when it's the same stuff all the time it is trollish. Worse, it inevitably leads to responses (the nature of a troll, intentional or not), further hijacking the thread as this has now done.

Getting back to the HB, I'm glad Maurice was lured out and took the time to answer many of the questions floating around the tournament and the foundation.

I do wish he and others wouldn't make a big deal about random criticism, the kind that isn't constructive. It's the nature of the net and human nature. Content to answer content and ignore the chaff.

Thank you Maurice for taking time to let us know some of the facts. Maurice is a great guy and he gave his best shot to make things happen. He has done many wonderful things for chess. Maurice is also my friend and the chess community needs more active people like him. There is no competition between us. We do different things and we will join force if our paths cross sometimes in the future.

Mig is correct in saying that there are some trolls out there spamming the same nonsense over and over again on various newsgroups. When someone say anything negative about people such as Kasparov, Kramnik, Fischer, Kosteniuk or me, there are usually fanatics viciously trying to defend their idols. It is embarrassing for me as well. I do not want anyone to defend me in that fashion. I would prefer people to more civil, tolerant and professional with their conducts. To be honest, I do not know how to stop it. I am sure Mig had to delete many of these posts and I had to do the same on my blog.

There are also others who like to criticize just about everything and anyone. I saw some of the nasty comments made about Hikaru on various forums just because he lost in the first round of the World Cup. I have news for those folks. Chess is not an easy game and we can all have bad days or bad tournaments. Give the kid a break. His game is flawed but he does play exciting chess and we should all appreciate his unique style. He will improve with age.

Maurice made many good points. The bottom line is he tried hard and this is a big loss for the entire chess community. This further proves that we all have to work together to help chess. Thanks Mig for bringing up many great topics. Happy Holidays to you and your family. Now go feed that cat of yours :)

Best wishes and Happy Holidays to all!
Susan Polgar

As we move forward,may we learn the lessons from HBGobal. Research and planning for no shows can be a voided

The demise of the HB Foundation is sad news. I'm a chess parent who saw fit to take his 11-yr-old son out of school a couple days early to attend the HB Challenge. As a native Minnesotan now living in equally "remote" Alabama, this was a chance to visit family & friends as well as my son's first opportunity to play in a high-profile open tournament. We had a blast -- the excitement level was comparable to that of the national scholastic championships, but with the added attraction of seeing & meeting top-level players from around the world.

I have to say that I was always a bit puzzled as to how the event was meant to benefit scholastic chess. My guess that the organizers expected that if enough buzz was generated, it would somehow heighten the general public's interest. (There was quite a bit of attention paid by the local media, BTW.) I'd like to thank Mr. Ashley for setting us all straight on that matter.

I would like to thank Maurice for doing the HB tournament. It is in part the spark that got me at least trying to utilize my business expertise in the chess world. Not to try to make a profit, but to popularize chess.

We just completed the first Slugfest using BAP and as expected, we did not have ANY boring draws. We also did not see any change in the draw percentage, but the draws were certainly all very hard fought and with the BAP, draws certainly felt decisive. In this tournament, black did get the majority of points, but it could have easily been in balance had a few of the draws gone whites way. White was pushing for a win in most of the draws.

The curious thing is that the rankings under BAP vs. old style were virtually identical. I am putting together all the games so you can all make an assessment as to whether I have ruined chess as we know it. If I have, then you can blame Maurice :)


Clint, it's good that there were no boring draws, although in small tournaments like this with big rating differences draws don't happen too often in any case, except maybe in the last round when a higher-rated player can guarantee himself the first place with a draw. What is more interesting, did players perform according to their ratings or was it all pretty random?

The important question here is how to promote chess. The main problem I saw with the HB was a lack of newspaper coverage. I complained about there being no mention of it in the Sunday edition of the major local newspaper here in Minnesota. Without such coverage many kids that might have come had no warning unless their parents had the local edition. The excuse I got was that too few people are uninterested in chess. However, the reporter telling me that had published several stories about chess players that were associated with his kids and even got some TV coverage. However, I know some around him (who were receiving funds from the foundation) were complaining that they should not be spending the money on the tournament and instead spending it on the kids. I hope that didn't influence his decision to not give it any meaningful coverage.

Chess has also received a lot of negative politicity from the state department's actions against Fischer and this story has been covered ad nausem often with a bias that protrays chess as a game that may cause mental illness.

It seems to me the HB foundation's problem was primarily a result of the state of affairs of our newspaper industry. Positive stories (e.g., Susan Polgar) may help change that or a successful new American player might change that. Publicity about the benefits of chess and organizations that help build a national chess in the schools program as is the case with soccer would help a great deal.

I believe the HB was a great opportunity to promote the positive aspects of chess.
The fact is the HB's only problem may have been it was a bit ahead of its time and for whatever reasons could not obtain appropriate local support and publicity that it needed.

Another important innovation of this tournament was the no short draw rule. That needs to be enforced in all tournaments.

The fear of people using chess computers to help their game have a negative impact on both the Internet and tournaments. Software detection programs to combat or moving to something like random chess has to be seriously considered. Ignoring the problems, which appears to be the current state of affairs, will eventually ruin chess.


From what the players were telling me, they didn't notice any big change in the way anybody played, with the one exception that white always kept playing until it was clearly drawn.

There were 7 master vs. master games and those had 4 draws, so the draw percentage actually didn't change among masters. However, it could have very easily been just 2 draws, as black had two games that were clearly lost that they were able to draw in a time scramble.

The last round was crazy, we had 4 players with 5, two with 4 and there were dozens of possible scenarios. We could have had a threeway tie at 8, a threeway tie at 6, clear winner at 7, etc. Everybody pushed as hard as they could for a win. Definitely the most exciting last round at a tournament I have been at in a long time.

The other really unexpected thing was the length white went to prevent black from winning, even in the last round. Before the last round, giving black a win just gave the opponent a giant lead. however, even in the last round when the only difference was rating pts, white was forcing draws from a worse position.

BAP achieved its primary goal of eliminating the unfought draws. Still need to get a lot more data, especially what happens at the 2500+ level as that is where the draw percentage skyrockets.

I will continue to hold BAP tournaments locally and another TD (who played in the tournament) will also be using BAP, so maybe it will just be a NW thing, but any TD/organizer out there who is tired of last round quick draws can experiment with BAP to see what happens.


P.S. The pairings are trickier than normal, as you have to use lookahead in the odd numbered rounds to mix the two isolated groups that color balancing creates. I was able to get everybody 2 whites and 2 blacks so everybody had a shot at 10pts.


Some very good points! I do think that, going forward, we need to define "promote chess" in terms of the specific measurements that will be used to evaluate the success of any one effort.

Chess is great because it covers scholastic events, amateur events, professional events--but these are promoted in somewhat different ways.

So "chess promotion" for an event needs to be considered vs a specific long term goal. Is that goal a chess club in every middle school? Larger prizes for amateurs in more weekend swisses? More amateurs playing on the Internet? Chess coverage in major newspapers? More money for chess scholarships for college students? Chess on television? More money for professional players from within the chess community? More money for chess professionals from corporate sponsorship?

Going for any of these goals could be considered "promoting chess," but they would shape different kinds of promotional efforts. Unless we know which we're talking about, we might judge an event a failure that was in fact a success (or vice versa!).

As a fan, I'd like to see professional chess sustainable in the US. I believe (rightly or wrongly) that that would have a positive effect on amateur chess, scholastic chess, and the experience of chess fans. So the long term goal I'm interested in in terms of "chess promotion" is seeing the top 1% of US chess players able to attract $25,000 a year each in individual sponsorship. Consequently unless an event has another stated specific goal (such as increasing the number of middle school chess clubs), I tend to judge its chess promotion activities in terms of whether they're moving towards the chess promtion goal tht interests me.

So I look for fan-friendly and sponsor-friendly activities. A sponsors' lunch. Interesting individual player bios. Sponsor logos. A good press conference at the end of the event. A player appearing after the event in a sponsor's other advertising.

Someone whose preferred goal was chess on television might be looking for good video production on the website. A mention on the local 5 o'clock news. Interesting visual touches in the playing hall. Perhaps a blitz playoff.

All of these are activities that "promote chess," but they do so to reach different goals and are judged on different metrics.

Of course, events can sometimes achieve multiple goals. That's great. But few events can achieve ALL possible goals. So until we know the goals intended, it's almost impossible to judge the effort constructively.


First, thanks to Al for making a brave financial commitment and to Brian & Maurice for their tireless work. I'll never forget the event: I scored 2.5 out of 9, but had a great time.

In retrospect, I do worry that it would have been better for U.S. chess not to have had the event at all than to have it as a one-off.

Let's face it: adult chess in the US in 2005 is horribly broken. I used to be ranked #28 on the starting wallchart of the Master Challenge (a traditional Chicagoland event, held in mid-June in the western suburbs). Now I'm more likely to be #14, and I'm substantially weaker now than I was in the 1980s. (Oh, and the Master Challenge wasn't even HELD last year....)

Before we try to hit home runs, we've got to hit singles--we've got to rebuild the infrastructure of adult chess, the serious local tournaments....

CCA and the late lamented HB Fdn are not the enemy; they aren't the solution, either.

Of course we should all be saddened about the reported demise of the HB Foundation.

"Make no little plans." the great architect Daniel Burnham reportedly said, "They have no magic to stir men's blood."

The plan was a bold one, and its execution, from what I could see, flawless. I kept running into Maurice and Brian, traveling all over the country promoting the tournament.

If there is a flaw in the model, it is twofold. The first is to assume that such events are continuously scalable. If you double the prize fund, you'll double the attendance, etc. Individual resources for chess travel are limited and they are affected by the general economic climate.

The second, more subjective, is the practice of giving large cash class prizes at such events.


Tim Redman

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