Friday, 20 December 2013

How much would you pay to play in a chess tournament?

An interesting new(-ish) tournament idea from the US. GM Maurice Ashley is behind a $1,000,000 tournament title "Millionaire Chess". It is planned for Las Vegas in October next year and offers a total prize fund of a million dollars.
The obvious intention behind the tournament is to try and bring some of the excitement and money of Poker to the chess board. Along with the poker sized prize fund is of course a poker sized entry fee. And this is the kicker, as the entry fee is $1000. So the gamble for the organisers is finding enough chess players with $1000 (plus enough to cover travel expenses) who would find such a tournament worthwhile.
Certainly 20 years ago I would have said that the organisers would have had no hope of attracting enough entries. And while I think the odds are still not in their favour, I do think they have a better chance of succeeding now. While chess players are still quite tight fisted, I sense that more average players  are willing to spend some extra cash to play an event, as long as the event is worth it. In part this is due to the rise in living standards in parts of the world, but it also a function of a growing chess population.
Whether this is enough to make this event go ahead (as the organisers have put some conditions on it taking place), I'm not entirely sure, but as one commentator said ,"either this event will be a huge flop, or it will change chess forever!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Without knowing poker that well, is it not the case that an amateur can beat the best by getting lucky with the cards? No such opportunity really exists at chess. So the chance of a bottom chess seed actually winning a jackpot prize is as minimal as always.

Whilst a $ 1000 entry fee and corresponding prize fund is defensible for an Open, it's also being applied to the numerous rating restricted sections. Offering that sort of prize money to players who aren't objectively that good, just encourages undesirable behaviour such as ratings manipulation and even outright cheating.

Did everyone notice the liberties being taken with the Laws of Chess? Potentially you could be defaulted if the organiser objects to your opening play. They quote the Exchange French, but the Exchange Slav or even the London system might qualify. You aren't even allowed to repeat moves to reach a time control.