PLACE YOUR BETS, SIRS!
The financing problem in chess has become so keen for the last
years that now we hear more and more frequently about a possible
lethal outcome. There are less round tournaments, and even in the
biggest of them organisers are far from being lavish. Sometimes
matches are held, short ones more frequently, longer ones much
more seldom, the latter fact seems to distress the amateurs of
the classics especially. The knock-out system was
tested on all levels, still its hard to speak about its
prospects so far (I think that the future belongs to it, but
its only my private opinion). The basic form now is a Swiss
open which is in principle meant for amateurs: players pay their
fees themselves. Discussions about comparative merits of the
mentioned systems are of a purely theoretical character, as the
modern practice shows that grandmasters are ready to play any
system, only to be paid for their play. Still, there is no money
both for good and bad systems.
By the way, should there be any money in chess and where from
should it come?
Now this question is just the key one. Theoretically, the
answer is simple: money can be given by the audience only. And
not by those who come to the tournament hall: sportsmen used to
earn badly while they were fed by the visitors of a
stadium only. Every active fun, the audience of an Internet live
translation should pay. Its very good if a rich
sponsor gives some additional funds. Still, this depends on the
audience, too, because a rich sponsor will give good money
for the showing of his ad banner during the event only if
he will know that it will be seen by many solvent visitors. Now
if we agree that chess has no audience then champions can
continue begging at the church-porch, calling this process
looking for a sponsor, but after all we shall have to
declare chess a purely amateur game to be played while relaxing
in the park. Such a prospect is evidently unacceptable for us,
therefore we must prove that chess has its audience and make them
Since it is so, lets look whether chess always was
supported by philanthropists or did the audience ever pay for it?
Now it turns out that they paid! In the old days matches were
played at a stake, and stakes were guaranteed with a
subscription. A subscriber took the chance: in case of his
favourites defeat he lost his money. But in case of his
success he returned his stake plus 50%. The rest 50% made up
prize funds. This method is applicable not only to a match, but
to any contest. A standard stake for every participant should be
collected. The simplest way to organise this at present is via
Internet. The model is evident: organisers design a
contest, arrange it with participants and open a site where
subscribers make their stakes, paying through their credit cards.
Naturally, stakes for favourites will be collected sooner. The
problem will be how to guarantee the participation of outsiders.
Now if all stakes are not collected by a set time, the contest
should be cancelled, and organisers (holders of the funds) keep
their interest. But if stakes are OK, then games of the
tournament will be translated right on their site (nowhere
else!), the site being accessible for subscribers only.
Unfortunately for chess, most of funs are residents of Russia,
a country with a predominantly poor population, an underdeveloped
banking system and bad Internet access. Probably this is one of
the reasons for the present decline of our game: it turned out so
in the twentieth century that chess became actually a part of the
Russian culture, and when a nation suffers a crisis, its culture
grows weaker too. Nothing can be done about this, we only can
hope for better times.
I live in America, and I used to pay 20$ per day to see
matches of the Europe Football Championship. This is called
Pay-per-view. Am I ready to pay for a live
translation of chess contests (and play in an original
totalizator, at the same time)? If not, then I have other
priorities and should not complain about the hard times of the
chess world. By the way, chess is of course cheaper than
football, and a minimal stake for a subscriber will be less.
It cannot be excepted that the offered method would gradually
attract new supporters to chess, those who like different
totalizators. They wont be real admirers, but
they should not be disregarded: they wont destroy anything,
they will only add new features to the image of chess and pay in
Probably even hopes of numerous worshippers of match duels
will come true (this kind of contest is surely suffering a
crisis). In the new market their favourite formula will be
preferable, as organising a match for stakes is much easier than
any other contest: only two stakes are required.
Are you ready to place your bets, sirs? Do remember: in the
final analysis the audience should pay for any show.