"Rebranding" The World Chess Championship

  • SonofPearl
  • on 6/21/12, 11:37 AM.


PRESS RELEASE: LEADING design agency Pentagram has been hired to rebrand the World Chess Championships, after the World Chess Federation (FIDE) accorded the commercial rights to the sport to technology entrepreneur Andrew Paulson.

Mr Paulson (pictured) struck the deal with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of FIDE, to host the championships and provide long-term commercial structure for the game, with an increased prize fund of 5.4 million euros.

AGON, the company set up to administer the commercial activities of World Chess, has briefed Pentagram to position the sport as a global entertainment form that encompasses the interactive potential of the internet and mobile technology.

Pentagram has designed the new auditorium for the next World Chess Championship cycle, which will start next March in London as part of the European Tour, before moving on to Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Istanbul.

The championship games will be broadcast live on the internet, on iPads and on smartphones. A range of apps will allow fans to follow the championships on all the major social media platforms. Mr Paulson is also negotiating with global cable television channels for highlights coverage on living room television sets.

There are 605 million chess players worldwide, of which 43.8 million are in the US, but the sport is so far a clean slate in terms of advertising. Mr Paulson is looking for six brand partners to "professionalise and enliven" the sport.

He said: "World Chess will make household names of Grandmasters and provide a compelling media proposition for global companies to become sponsors. YouGov research has shown that chess is more associated with intelligence, sophistication and strategy than any other major global sport."

Mr Paulson founded the Russian businesses Afisha Publishing House and the online media business SUP. His vision for the World Chess Championships was born following a chance meeting with Ilyumzhinov, the former leader of the Buddhist region of Kalmykia, who was re-elected as president of FIDE in 2010.

FIDE will supply the players and regulate the tournament, initially receiving 20 per cent of the prize money, with an additional profit-share agreement planned over the longer term.

Each World Chess Championship cycle will take two years, working up to the Championship Match via the Candidates Tournament, six Grand Prix and one World Cup game, where the leading challenger will take on the reigning World Champion.

Following the European Tour-themed first year, the World Chess Championships will be hosted by cities in a different economic zone each succeeding year: the Arab world in 2014, India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016.

For further information, please contact:

Harriet Dennys, Mission PR

Email: harrietd@thisismission.com

7119 reads 27 comments
2 votes
more Misc


  • 4 years ago


    If chess sells itself so well in the USA, why do less than ten newspapers carry a chess column? How many magazines in the USA have chess columns or any news about chess whatsoever (besides dedicated chess mags, so pls don't waste everyone's time mentioning them)

    How often do you hear about chess on the 6 0'Clock News, besides never?

  • 4 years ago


    Since when did Chess need agencies to stir up excitement for the game? The genius of Chess sells itself. Those unable to perceive that Genius will continue to reject the game. Chess is special. Hype is not.

    "Chess Is Life"

    Bobbie Fischer

  • 4 years ago



    I don't see the harm in this either. I'm fairly excited that someone has a grand vision for chess and is going for it to put it into action. I'll be waiting to see how it begins to take effect.

  • 4 years ago


    I'm reading a lot of negative, skeptical comments below this article. What's the big deal? I would think other chess enthusiasts would be excited about these developments. All Pentagram seems poised to do is modernize the way the sport is disseminated and experienced by integrating some of the latest technology into its official infrastructure. I don't remember reading anything about rivalling soccer's popularity or establishing a lucrative cash-cow that puts other sports to shame. So they want to "provide long-term commercial structure for the game." I think most of you are misinterpreting or reading too much into that statement. What I got from this article is that they wish to modernize, integrate and keep up with the times. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  • 4 years ago


    To involve outside sourcing to gain public participation in all dimensions is extremely difficult to achieve, harm? Easy!

    I pose a simple question to the appointers of chess to be (re-packaged). What on earth makes you think for one second that you have the knowledge to appoint anyone?

    This could be monumental? Will it be? Doubtful!!!

    If you truly do want this to be successful? Contact me and I will provide you with the information you should have, to be in a position to appoint assistance.

    This will not be free and I do not need to help in anyway shape, form.

    We shall see if I am addressed.


  • 4 years ago

    NM BMcC333

    One statistic left out, chess players are cheap as dirt. Thiel is a billionaire, has he even bothered to support the weekend swisses he grew up on in Atllanta and out west? Lonnie Schwarz won millions in the world series of poker and again not one penny that I know of, to the sport that trained him to be competitive. I am sure the list can be lengthened quite a bit. Advertisers need people to spend money and chess players are a very cheap bunch overall.

    How dare people question these statistics? It is well known everyone on the internet is 6 foot tall, makes 6 figures and holds multiple degrees, usually from the ivy leagues, Stop Hating!

    FWIW, the usual statistic tossed around in scholastic chess is over 200 million americans can play (making it sound simple to learn, which it is).

    Pentagram sounds like a bunch of satanists. Is this really a step up from an evil dictator?

  • 4 years ago


    Although in my heart I sincerely wish for a resounding success (world interest in chess, growing popularity for the game, fantastic prizes for competitors, etc.) my rational side predicts the usual failure. Why? I refer you to my first blog post on Chess.com, "Why There is No Money in Chess." I wish I were wrong - but wishing won't make it so.

    Still, best of luck to Andrew Paulson.

  • 4 years ago


    "A problem I see is that the tournament structure seems designed to propell a fairly random player to face Anand"

    Candidates tournaments are usually won by favourites, like Tal, Smyslov twice, Bronstein and Petrosian. At all five occasions these players were Chessmetrics #1 when playing the title match they qualified for by winning the Candidates tournament. Knockouts are more problematic as qualifiers as they often are won by players far from the top, since much depends on unpredictable blitz tiebreaks and the draw.

  • 4 years ago


    I wonder about many of the things stated in the article, like "the World Chess Championships will be hosted by cities in a different economic zone each succeeding year: the Arab world in 2014, India in 2015 and the Americas in 2016". A big change compared to the latest cycle where all events took place in ex-Soviet countries (i.e. all World Cups, Grand Prix tournaments, candidates and title match), and I wonder how well this idea will work out. It's easier to hold a World Championship cycle in Russia than in Arab countries where there are no top players or big public interest.

    The statement about 44 million US citizens playing chess sounds wildly exaggerated. As before the previous cycle it is claimed that all Grand Prix events will be played in major European cities, but until that happens one shouldn't expect too much, last time it ended up with host cities like Jermuk, Nalchik, Astrakhan, Elista, and Sochi.

  • 4 years ago


    i mean it's great to hear! but there's one thing i still don't agree is, if you keep winning the world champs you still continue to be in the finals just like Anad, when he may not deserve the World Champs! look at how other top players are playing they are playing great! i think that after the World Champs either you win or not they both have to join the candidate again to be on top. that's my opinion

  • 4 years ago


    Sounds swell, BUT seeing is believing...I'm not holding my breath on chess becoming competitive with soccer and other genuinely PROFESSIONAL sports (in terms of commercial viability that is of course chess is a professional sport in terms of quality if not economics)

  • 4 years ago


    So "chessvibes" provides the following info on what Paulson said-

    - 44 million Americans play chess

    - 60% are male

    - 18 to 35 demographic

    - More than 1/3 have a Masters/PHD

    - 44% have an average household income of at least $75000


    Looking at this data, I would suspect that they were compiled from some form of questionaire. If this was the source, then there is a huge margin for error...since we all know that everyone lies on these questionaires.

    The base of your population market target is critical in any estimates of viewership, revenue, and profits. And of course, these baseline figures are the main driving indicators for Advertisers, Bankers, and Investors.

  • 4 years ago


    Well what chess would teach is a way of thinking and logic, a systematic frame of mind. Instead of shooting up zombies or monsters in labyrinths, acting out fairy fantasies in role-playing games one could actually learn to think. But where is the business or profit in teaching people how to think?

  • 4 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    excellent! somebody with vision.  i had just read seirawans' most excellent  book chess duels with the world champions and based what i have read there this sort of project could only benefit chess, to make it more attractive and accessible to sponsors and the general public.

  • 4 years ago


    I think these figures are highly inflated...and of course they are inflated to influence potential sources of finance to come on board...to sell the project...to attract potential advertising dollars.

     What source would equate the total population of chess players to be 605 million worldwide? Total internet users? Total registered chess players in each country? We all know that these sources are tainted by duplication, and multiple accounts being held by the same individual, or inactivity which inflates the total. So at best these figures are guesstimates concocted to sell...a marketers tool used to paint an unrealistic picture of reality.

  • 4 years ago


    @gray-orange gray

    I don't like that system a bit. Ratings are just an indicator of playing strength but actual achievement should be used to demonstrate a players ability to perform at a high level among the competitors for the world championship. A clear example of this is the Tal Memorial- Aronian, the second highest rated player, was middle of the pack, while Caruana, 9th in the world, almost won the tournament had he managed to at least draw Aronian in the final round. I fear relying on ratings as a means to quialify to compete for the world title will only lead to rating protectionism, where the top players only play as needed to keep ahead of others, and go after "weaker" players to gain points while playing drawing lines against their top competitors to ensure little to no loss of points against them. I'd rather have players going for blood to win tournaments and demonstrate their ability to win events as a means to qualify to compete for the world title. Perhaps you could use ratings as a sub qualification system in the event tie breakers between competitors is needed.

    Your right, random players vying for the title might not be a good thing, but using ratings isn't such a good idea to me either. I'd rather have people who've demonstrated high recent performance, like winning the Tal Memorial for example, as a means to qualify to compete for the ultimate title- the world championship.

  • 4 years ago


    Perhaps because ratings only say so much.

    Tournament structure doesn't give Anand a random challenger. The challenger is the person who proved to be best in the candidates tournament.

    Even though the challenger should've been either Carlsen, Aronian or Kramnik, Carlsen decided not to play and Aronian and Kramnik didn't prove their superiority at the tournament.

  • 4 years ago


    In order for the 'championship' to be interesting, it needs good players, i.e. more interesting ones than Anand and Gelfand.

    A problem I see is that the tournament structure seems designed to propell a fairly random player to face Anand. I would prefer a challenger's match, between the top two rated players not currently holding the championship, in this case Carlsen and Aronian. The winner would then play the champion. Why not do this?

  • 4 years ago


    yep, 43.8 million seems too high.

    Lets say though it's only 10% of that figure. Having over 4 million people with an interest in chess is definitely something you can work with and transform into something wonderful.

    Chess can become more mainstream. Believe it.

  • 4 years ago


    Great but...

    "There are 605 million chess players worldwide, of which 43.8 million are in the US"

    ??? There are not 43.8 million chess players in the US.

    I think people who don't know how to castle or enpassant are included in their estimated # but even then it would be highly inflated. Perhaps 1 million would be a better estimate of the # of players that know the rules of chess.

Back to Top

Post your reply: