The royal game of chess dates back to [at least] the 6th century. It has influenced cultures and used as a geopolitical platform. In modern times chess has been partially monetized, added to the curriculum of school systems in Eastern Europe and Asia, but continues to suffer in popularity and attention from anything more than a niche population within the United States. A recent piece entitled “How America Forgot About Chess” (http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/05/how-america-forgot-about-chess/257049/attempts) to paint a picture of boring Grandmasters and embattled international chess leadership as the reason why America forgot chess…
…Scholastic chess is the true cash cow of many chess organizers. The reason is simple – mommy and daddy will pay any amount within reason (and some more than that) for little Johnny to study chess and compete. The academic benefits of chess, along with the potential to become a State, National, or World Champion is attractive, both to children and their parents. As such where there is a market, there are service providers. These service providers, or organizers in chess parlance, offer tournaments, weeklong chess camps, and private coaching. As an example, a core component in the yearly revenue for the USCF are the national scholastic chess tournaments that they organize. Without this revenue stream the coffers would not have as much in them.
Mixed chess, where the true majority (80%) percent are adults, is monetized primarily through organized tournaments that feature substantial cash prizes. The most successful of these tournaments is organized by the Continental Chess Association (CCA) with tournaments that are organized from coast to coast in the US and the Bahamas. Total pursues from $10,000 to $250,000 are available. Where does the monetization take place? The primary routes are through a combination of entry fees to these events, ranging from $100 to $400, and rebates from hotels for selling sleeping rooms.
In the second installment of this series we shall review the topics of niche activity, comprehension difficulty, and lack of outreach.
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– GM Susan Polgar