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Eliminate Large Cash Prizes from Chess Tournaments

Eliminate Large Cash Prizes from Chess Tournaments

Apr 26, 2015, 11:26 AM 0

As a TD, chess organizer, and player, it is my firm contention that excessively large cash prizes should be eliminated from tournament play in order to restore integrity to the royal game of chess.  These prizes make the competition about money - not chess.  An entry fee should be the price of admission, so to speak, based on the number of rounds being offered. When I express this opinion in person to others in the chess world, I’m often told that “many players enter because of the large prizes.”  If that’s true, it’s a sad commentary on the state of tournament chess in my view.  I may be in the minority here, but I disagree with those who decide to play (or not play) in an event solely because of the prize structure.

Eliminating large cash prizes:

  • Weeds out those who enter solely to win money and will create an atmosphere of those who want to play chess, get better, and improve their rating.

  • Lowers the incentive to cheat.  This is of course a separate discussion, but the motivation for cheating is presumably the large cash prizes; get rid of them and you get rid of many cheaters.

  • Means less overhead for the organizers and lower entry fees for the players.  I would much prefer lower prizes if the benefit is a lower entry fee, since my motivation is simply to play, enjoy the process, and get stronger.  The ridiculously high entry fees of many major tournaments is prohibitive for many; it shouldn’t be that way.   

Quick story: A major chess organization which runs many of the major events did not schedule an annual tournament this year on Long Island in New York where I live.  It’s my understanding that they declined because they claimed the hotel rates were too high.  If that’s true, it’s nonsense because there’s a solution.  Lower the prizes and use that money to run the event.  Many of us in the area were very disappointed it wasn’t held.

  • Eliminates the need for the awful rating floor system.  A player’s rating should be one that measures “active performance.”  Floors were put in place to reduce cheating and sandbagging, but as I’ve previously stated, that’s like trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer - it’s way over the top. Rating floors create more problems than they’re meant to solve. A player can lose every game for the rest of his life and never go below his floor - that’s insanity.

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