Monday 26 November 2018

Not a massive payday

I spent yesterday increasing the size of my chess library by about 100 books, after a pleasant drive to Penrith and back. One of the books I brought back was the tournament book of the 1924 New York Tournament, which was won by Lasker ahead of Capablanca. It was the strongest event of that year, and is rightly considered one of the 'Classic' tournaments of chess history.
The book itself was written by Alekhine and Helms and typically of books from that time contained a lot of details concerning the tournament organisation. For instance the overall budget was around $13,000 while first prize was $1500.
While this may have been quite a substantial prize for the 1920's, it turns out it wasn't as large as I figured, although this depends on how you measure it. Based on the inflation rate for the US, first prize would be around $22,000 which while nice, is probably on the low side for a tournament of this calibre. However, in 1924, $4000 would probably buy you a modest house in the average US city, while in 2018, the median house price in the us is closer to $200,000. So in these terms first prize would buy you 37.5% of a house, which is $75000 in today's terms.
Two other points from this event were (a) they collected around $3500 in ticket sales from spectators (close to $30,000 in today's money) and (b) Capablanca lost his first tournament game in 8 years, to Richard Reti.

Reti,Richard - Capablanca,Jose Raul [A15]
New York International Masters-01 New York,NY (5), 22.03.1924

No comments: