Over 500 players out of 39 nations will compete for a share of their US$1m marijuana, with $100,000 into the overall winner.
Co-organiser and chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley has loudly said his goal to dismiss off all previous tournaments “from their water”. Major cash, limousines for your opponents, high profile company patrons as well as the star endorsement of celebrity and chess enthusiast Will Smith is going to be used in an effort to give the match a contemporary makeover.
Such blunt commercialisation revives queries of this game’s connection with 21st-century spectator game and its latest failure to attract commercial focus. And in addition, it highlights a feeling of urgency inside the chess world to emphasise the cultural picture of the sport despite being played with more folks than ever. It looks like the objective is to realign chess, also make it like poker, even more glitzy and glamorous. However, a brief look in the game’s background indicates the historical persistence of those issues.
Much popular opinion viewed chess chiefly as enlightening, great for self-improvement, instead of a profession. Leading English participant Howard Staunton noted that the game was perfect for those keen to invigorate “to the extreme their intellectual abilities”. Chess wasn’t”to be made the way of low gaming. A xenophobic setting, partially driven by Staunton, watched foreign specialist chess-players temporarily pushed from rivalry in Britain.
However a chess player’s profession was also determined by public performance and also involvement attracted financial benefit. Staunton’s very own 1843 match together with all the Frenchman Pierre Saint-Amant, together with bets of 200 each side and policy invoking Anglo-French competition, was only a match that comprised a number of the very same components of popular spectacle and media attention that the Millionaire Chess Open needs to exploit.
The 20th-century background of this sport continued to watch chess evolve as a scene and a professional game. The international increase of chess has been inextricably tied into the Soviet Union’s use of it as a sign of ideological superiority.
Players were anticipated to become dignified. This belief of the expert baseball player has been left expertly from the opening into the James Bond movie From Russia With Love at which the creepy Agent Kronsteen competes in lavish surroundings. The Soviet baseball player was a commendable professional, the ideal representative of the artistic and scientific domination of Communism.
And thus chess became politics. And, since the Washington Post once mentioned, if Communism’s vice was that it turned out into politics, capitalism was that it turned into money. And here we’re in Vegas. Fischer’s constant demands for greater look prices for himself (and his competitors ) attracted both compliments and criticism. He watched himself in precisely the exact same vein as a professional sportsman, comparing baseball players , and increased the profile of this match outside the Soviet Union.
Playing throughout the Cold War, his 1972 World Championship victory over Boris Spassky earned him almost US$80,000 over six times up to the 1960 occasion along with his US$125,000 involvement fee. This audacity led to enormous press attention and improved US Chess Federation membership and diversification. However, as Fischer disappeared from public view, so also did chess’ popularity. The game’s appeal rested mainly on his shoulders. From the 1980s that the Fischer Boom was prize money for open championships decreased.
Therefore there were longstanding tensions in the high-stakes boxing world rapping on whether it’s intellectual action, political entrance, professional game or all three simultaneously. The latest incarnation of boxing as the embodiment of capitalism lies in Vegas that the ambition to modernise the picture of the match apparently rests on the guarantee of a much more appealing environment for corporate sponsorship as opposed to any need to boost participation, instruct, or enhance the caliber of play.
A estimated 600m men and women play chess globally, yet the Millionaire Chess Open failed to achieve its planned goal of 1,500 competitions. In contrast, the 2013 World collection of Poker, with its own prize fund of $10 million, also brought over 79,000 entrants.
With no headline participant, or the type of geo-political background which turned Bobby Fischer to a international celebrity and chess to a stylish match, the Millionaire Chess Open will struggle to permanently increase the game’s profile. It seems like what happens in Vegas might well remain in Vegas.