(Photo of coffee fan Edita Vilkeviciute) Good morning, Sunday! Hopefully you did not party too hard last night and find yourself hung over this morning. On the other hand, good if you did! Continuing from where I left off Friday…
What Chess can learn from Ballet
Curiously, chess and ballet have quite a bit in common. Or atleast, they have some significant obstacles in common. Chronic lack of audience (spectators) and conspicuous shortage of sponsorship come immediately to the fore. Neither has much, if any, presence on TV. Both are too often desperately dependent on wealthy patrons…You get the general picture. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov comes immediately to mind.
The other day I was reading an insightful article in Dance Magazine about the number of struggling ballet companies and I was immediately reminded of the chess world…
“One of the toughest moments in the ballet world is watching a life-changing performance—and then looking around to see that only half the seats were filled to witness it. The discussion about how ballet can stay relevant and build new audiences has been going on for decades. However, these debates often end in speculation about the relevance of the product, rather than placing the onus on the marketing and sales crew.”
The Dance Magazine article goes on and describes how numerous dance companies have been successful taking a pro-active approach to the problem of dwindling audiences. One of the most effective changes has been to introduce differential pricing of tickets, depending on where in the audience the spectator would want to be seated. This strategy is widely used in sports.
Other strategies include making a ballet performance more inclusive and less intimidating. Trying to attract people who would normally be put off by the ‘rigour’ or elitism of ballet tradition. I suggest the reader to take a look at the article.
Reading this article has made me realize just how wrong the approach of modern tournament organizers – especially FIDE world class events and even the World Championship itself- is. Live audiences – spectators who would want to come to watch a tournament – have been ignored or in some cases deliberately discouraged in favour of on-line audiences. For example, the 2014 World Championship match in Sochi limited seating for spectators to 100. For the 2013 match this number was even less!
Those who argue that FIDE should stop organizing big chess events in remote areas (Siberia, for example) should take time to consider that when events are held in London or elsewhere in Europe , few spectators show up anyway. The Candidates Tournament in London organized by AGON once again limited the number of seats for the audience, so many of those who might have been interested in watching stayed home, no doubt thinking that they had little chance of getting in given the limited seating.
When AGON held the World Championship in New York last year, the organizers were surprised by the number of people interested in spectating, and were completely unable to cope, not having planned before hand! The result was an embarrassing chaos with people literally climbing windows!
It is apparent to me, and certainly a great number of others, that chess organizers need desperately to change the way they have been dealing with the issue of spectators for major events up to now. FIDE has given up on everthing except the dream of online spectators, forfeiting what could be a substantial source of revenue from live audiences. What is needed is a complete change of mind-set. Like in ballet.
How the World Cup is fairing in Georgia
FIDE’s most prestigious event so far this year, the World Cup has attracted even the current World Champion(!) even though he has already “qualified” for the 2018 World Championship match by virtue of…being the 2016 World Champion!
World Champion Carlsen at the beginning of his first round game today against underdog Balogun. Is long time FIDE crony Makropoulos trying to to do the notorious ‘Sambuev’ manouevre, slyly pocketing the White e-pawn while no one is looking? Notice that Azmaiparashvili ‘conveniently’ looks elsewhere…God Bless cameras! (Carlsen won a tough game against his opponent, despite the pawn minus)
On preparing to play Carlsen
Results of Round 1