Monday, January 23, 2006

Going all in is risky

Should efforts to promote chess in the United States focus on big events intended to attract media attention or steady and slow grassroots efforts? Steady and slow seems to have made some headway at the scholastic level, but not much among adults. On the other hand, the record for big "splashes" seems even worse.

First, consider the HB Global. Sure, those of us in the chess community thought it was a big deal. But did it really have any impact outside the already committed group? I think not. Instead, a good portion of the HB Foundation's money was wasted on an effort that probably will have little long-term impact on chess promotion in the States (o.k., it wasn't wasted if you were one of the prize winners).

Next, consider this article about the Karpov International School of Chess in Lindsborg, Kansas. Apparently, all the money they spent on bringing former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to Kansas for the Chess for Peace program has left the organization in dire financial straits. Now they are selling the building in which they are housed as part of a plan to stay afloat. Was their big splash worth it? One way to judge would be to ask your non-chess playing friends what they remember about the 2005 Chess for Peace program. I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess that "huh?" will be their most frequent response.

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