Hello all,

I’m new to this group but the forum subject caught my eye. I’m the president of a small chess club from an equally small town in Massachusetts. We are in the process of sponsoring a second annual memorial tournament commemorating a former member who died in a tragic accident. His widow put up the majority of the funds for last year’s event which was held as a grand prix, and in which the event took an $800+ loss. I’m wondering if any of you have any experience in securing local sponsorship for chess events? We have enough funds to run this year’s event, however, not at the level we had hoped it would be. Obviously, none of us is looking to make a profit, but I would like to see this event become more financially self-supporting. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Horseyman,

Unfortunately, unless your club is a 501c3 tax exempt organization, I believe it’s very difficult to get corporate sponsorship. Gtd. prize funds are, of course, a great thing to have to offer, but if you’re a really small club in a small community where there aren’t many chess players, it’s difficult to not lose money. An alternative would be to make a partial guarantee of Prize funds, such as 1st/2nd place, or to make the entire tournament prize fund based on attendance (no GP there, but is your area likely to get masters anyway?)

Post your Chess Life Ad here from last year (or, give me the date that it was held, and I will look at it) and maybe I (and others) may be able to offer some better advise. Also, in which city is your club located? You might get the most help from your State Association.

Let us know the particulars, and I hope we can help.

Regards,

Terry

Hi,

Sorry for the delay in my response. I wanted to check out your ideas with the other “interested parties”. The 1st Stephen A. Vaughan Memorial was held on May 18th of last year (Chess Life TLA in May 2003). The town is Athol.

Reportedly, the club’s previous experience with our state chess association has not been a positive one, but you have given me a potential avenue to explore.

Any other further ideas, insights? Please don’t hesitate to venture them!

Many thanks,

Frank Kolasinski

First off, after looking at your TLA, I think a 100 player expectation is fairly lofty given the fast Time Control and the EF. I have no idea the number of regular tournament players in your area. Even so, 100 is a bit much to expect for a tournament of that Prize Fund, Time Control, etc., I would think.

You did get 30+ players and a GM, and with Ivanov available (thereby attracting more players), you might consider slowing the game down. I assume that most of your players were locals who knew Mr. Vaughn, though I do see that some other states were represented as well. Maybe you should consider an expectation of mostly local players who knew Mr. Vaughn, and/or slowing the tournament Time Control down. I would think a reasonable expectation would be about 50 players if you made it a 1 day G/:90, or maybe a 2 day event at either a Move Control or Suden-Death of 2 hours if you want to attract Masters and above.

But even with a slower control, you should probably expect around 50 or fewer players. Also, the Booster Section (mostly scholastic players?) EF may be a bit high.

Then again, I could be way off here as I have no idea what the players in your area like in the way of tournaments. But it seems that nation wide, only CCA and State Title events are likely to attract that many players.

Slow your tournament down,

Prize Funds based on # of Entrants w/ partial guarantees maybe,

Get your State Association involved, if possible.

And don’t be afraid to try and make money on your tournaments. Many folks try to “just break even”. I don’t agree with this philosophy. If you want to have nice tournaments in the future, build a nice local chess base, etc., you need money. So long as the money goes toward future events, there’s no reason to try to “just break even”.

Hope this helps,

-Terry

I feel a new club should start modestly in organizing tournaments. Quads are a great way to build a following with the players in your area. First, try to find a site that you can use consistantly; a couple would offer greater flexibility. Quads are no-brainers to run; just follow the pairing charts in the USCF rule book.

As for the prizes, you can go for attractiveness on the amount of the prizes or the entry fee. If you offer prizes like small trophies or medals (Crown Awards is a good source for these), your entry fee could be $10 or less.

If you decide to offer cash prizes, allocate approximately half to 3/4 of each quad’s entry fees as prize money. For example, if the entry fee is $20, the prize money per quad should be between $40 and $60. If your entry fee is around $40, close to $100 in prize money is available; which should bring out the serious players in your area.

It’s up to you to decide if there is to be only a single prize or prizes to 1st and 2nd in each quad. If you go with the latter, try to make 2nd prize at least as much as the entry fee; a little more is better. A second prize in each quad might attract more players since they don’t have to win their section to get a prize. In the example above with a $20 entry fee, there could be a single prize of $50, or $35 for first and $25 for second.

Unless you have an extremely low turnout, it’s almost impossible not to turn a profit. If you can keep a regular schedule of quads, you’ll build a following and a war chest for bigger and better tournaments. Next time you try a Grand Prix, do it on a based-on-entries format and have at least the mininimum amount already on hand. For a 5-point Grand Prix, the minimum is $350 and the max is I think just under $1000. Try a $1000 prize fund based on the number of entries it would taks to fully fund such a prize fund, and have at least $500 before the first player signs up. With even a modest turnout, you shouldn’t lose money and more likely end up with a small profit. That profit should be the starting point for bigger and better tournaments.

Hope this helps.

http://www.grants.gov/ Get a Grant!!!

If you have a free or extremely cheap site, you could try the Plus-Score format:

4-round Swiss, game/60, round times something like 10:00-12:15-2:30-4:45.

Entry fee $20.

Prizes by score, rather than place:

4.0-0.0 $100

3.5-0.5 $50

3.0-1.0 $25

2.5-1.5 $10

This guarantees the prizes without risking a huge loss. In fact, just about the only way the tournament could lose money is if there is a TINY turnout, like 6 players.

The theoretical number of players for a 4-round tournament is 16, and the theroetical results of such a tournament are:

1 player at 4-0

4 players at 3-1

6 players at 2-2

4 players at 1-3

1 player at 0-4

So you would take in $320 ($20 times 16) and give out $200 (1 @ $100 plus 4 @ $25).

The nice thing about this format is that the prize fund automatically expands or contracts with the turnout. With more players, you will have more with each score, etc. Yet, each prize is guaranteed.

Note that the prizes are exponential, i.e. each DIFFERENCE is smaller than the previous difference. For example, the difference between $50 and $25 is less than the difference between $100 and $50. (That also goes for the last “difference”, where the difference between $10 and zero is less than the difference between $25 and $10.)

The importance of an exponential structure is that draws and upsets work in the organizer’s favor. For example, if two players are paired against each other at 3-0 going into the last round, if they draw they cost the organizer $100 total, as opposed to $125 if there is a decisive result. This encourages fighting chess, too.

Upsets (involving scores, not ratings) are good for the organizer, too. If a 3-0 is paired against a 2.5-0.5, a win by the 3-0 costs $100 plus $10, whereas a win by the 2.5 (or a draw) costs $50 plus $25.

You might reasonably expect about 20 players in this Plus-Score format.

Bill Smythe

I ran several ‘plus score’ events back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I think I had an even more staggered payout matrix: $100/45/25/10.

As I recall, it was mathematicallly impossible for me to lose money as long as there were 13 or more players.

It really did encourage fighting chess. It also resulted in a number of experts dropping out of the main event once they were sufficiently out of the running to try to beat me out of $100 in the side event. I don’t think I ever had someone go 4-0.

## If I ever got back into serious organizing, I’d probably redo the payout matrix based on a $30 entry fee and a $150 top prize.

Mike Nolan

OK, Bill, I like your Binomial Probability Distribution based on Pascal’s Triangle. However, this approach only works in a Binomial Experiement - ie: there are 2 distinct results (win or lose in this case). What about draws? Further, your distribution assumes equal probability of winning or losing any given game (50-50) which we know is not true.

However, lets take your distribution as a likely, or modal, outcome to use in the following scenario. Instead of an exponential pay-out structure, I was thinking of a Pro-rata, Linear Scheme such that the club cannot lose money!

OK, here goes. Lets say you have a 4 round event as you describe above. With 16 players by 4 rounds by 1/2 game per player means we have 32 games played. Further, assume a $20 EF per player so we have a $320 prize fund. Lets define a prize unit as $320 prize fund/32 games = $10. Then a score of 0 would earn 0 prize units, a score of 1 would earn 1 orize unit, etc. Therefore, the payout would be:

# 1 player at 4-0 gets $40 = $40

4 players at 3-1 get $30 each = $120

6 players at 2-2 get $20 each = $120

4 players at 1-3 get $10 each = $40

1 player at 0-4 gets $0 = $0

Total Payout = $320 (100% prize fund returned as prizes)

Club Expenses = $0 (rating fees, etc.)

Of course, if you only allow plus scores to win prizes then:

# 1 player at 4-0 gets $40 = $40

4 players at 3-1 get $30 each = $120

Total Payout = $160 (50% prize fund returned as prizes)

Club Expenses = $160 (rating fees, etc.)

I have seen several TLAs announce a prize fund based on the number of players, this is a similar approach that I think is workable. Of course, if there are 3.5 and 2.5 scores, less may be left for the club. Also, in the event of no draws, the director may award a slightly larger prize unit or allow a 2.0 score to win prizes too.

Has anything like this been done? Do you think it workable?

Regards,

AJG

So you would award a top prize of only $40 in a tournament with an entry fee of $20? You wouldn’t attract many strong players – or many players at all, for that matter.

The trouble with “based-on” prizes is that potential players realize there is a good chance the actual payout will be much lower, so they stay away in droves.

Bill Smythe

Bill, you don’t think that double the EF for the top prize is any good?

OK, here’s another example. Say you’re just running a small, quick event like a weekly club OCTO (3SS, G/10):

…Round1…Round2…Round3

PlayerA…+E…+D…+G

…1.0…2.0…3.0*

PlayerB…=F…-G…+E

…0.5…0.5…1.5

PlayerC…-G…-F…+H

…0.0…0.0…1.0

PlayerD…+H…-A…-F

…1.0…1.0…1.0

PlayerE…-A…+H…-B

…0.0…1.0…1.0

PlayerF…=B…+C…+D

…0.5…1.5…2.5*

PlayerG…+C…+B…-A

…1.0…2.0…2.0*

PlayerH…-D…-E…-C

…0.0…0.0…0.0

Now, in this OCTO, lets say the EF is $6 so the prize fund is $48. Further, there are 12 games played so the prize unit is $48/12 = $4. Now there were 3 plus scores (marked by asterisk). One player with 3.0 gets 3.0x4 = $12, one player with 2.5 gets $10 and one player with 2.0 gets 2.0x4 = $8. So the payout is $30 leaving $18 for club expenses.

Well, maybe this only works out (plus scores at least get their EF back and the top score gets at least double the EF back) with more players, ie: a bigger prize fund!

Regards,

AJG

Bill’s answer may differ from mine.

I think it depends on the situation. Do you think the World Open would survive charging entry fees of $250 and paying top prizes of $500?

In a club event where there isn’t a site rental fee to cover and other costs, I could see a $5 entry fee returning $10 as top prize. I think a $20 entry fee deserves at least a 4-1 return for top prize, though.

Didn’t one of the edition of the rulebook suggest a minimum of a 10X relationship between the advance entry fee and the top prize? That’s great if you have a history of relatively large events (over 50 players), it’s kind of tough to do in a 24 player Swiss, especially if you have $100 or more in site rentals to cover.

Yes, nolan, I see your point. I’m mainly interested in a weekly club event. Ok, so forget this pro-rata scheme for QUADs and OCTOs, the prize fund is way too small.

For a QUAD with an EF of $6, I’d award $12 (2xEF) to first such that 50% goes to club = $12 for expenses.

For an OCTO with an EF of $6, I’d award $24 (4xEF) to first and $12 (2xEF) to second such that 25% goes to club = $12 for expenses.

Without a pro-rata scheme, however, you’d have to worry about splitting prizes for ties. That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about in the pre-rata scheme!

Regards,

AJG

The problem with a small club with tournaments, not having a balance of players within the same rating group. If the club has one expert or master, then a few class B with a number of Class D players. Then the problem would be the top prize fund, as the one expert/master should win against the rest of the club. Having a prize with a club tournament, can give major problems as it looks like one person wins the prize and the others do not.

Having a club tournament with the ratings around 1400 - 1000 would not bring up or down the ratings that much in a given year: as the players would be feeding on each others ratings. If the entry fee is low, the players know that the money after rating fees are going into club equipment fund. If the club does spend the money on sets, boards and clocks: then they membership would feel a personal stake into the club.

The major reason that small clubs break down with tournaments, there would be one person that would make the issue of how or who gets the money. If the club is small and only spends the money for all the players, then the club would be better off. If making some members make the lions share, the others would become the meal: would only make more conflict then it is worth.

OK, lets go back to the 4SS with 16 players and an EF of $20 and a prize fund of $320 or a unit prize of $10. Suppose further, we have the following score distribution:

1-4.0 gets $40, payout = $40

1-3.5 gets $35, payout = $35

2-3.0 get $30 each, payout = $60

2-2.5 get $25 each, payout = $50

4-2.0 (not a plus score)

2-1.5 (not a plus score)

2-1.0 (not a plus score)

1-0.5 (not a plus score)

1-0.0 (not a plus score)

Total Payout = $185

Club Coffers = $135 - 32 games * $0.20 per game rating fee = $128.50

I suppose this all works out with enough players as long ans the score distribution results in at least 50% non plus scores! I wnder what is the break even point. This is no good for a QUAD or an OCTO of course.

For a weekly rated club quick event, I think this is is fine. All plus scores get more than their EF back, the top prize is 2xEF and you don’t have to worry about splitting prizes for ties.

BTW, will the rating fee be $0.20 per game when the tournament reports are entered by webform? Did I hear somewhere that it may be cheaper online and not subject to the $5 minimum?

TIA,

AJG

Garcia:

If you have first place with a perfect score of $40, with the entry fee of $20: it would only double the entry fee. You would not get that many players, would draw the weaker players. It is not the current norm for perfect score as the prize funding (as the norm of 1st, 2nd, under 1800, under 1400 as a example), as it does give greater weight for players to have a last round draw.

The other problem, with larger tournaments players do ask for the 1/2 point byes: if the player does ask for one, would be in the lower prize funding group just because they asked for a 1/2 bye. Byes are not common for the top 10% of ranking of the tournament, more common for the players looking for the under (like: under 1800, under 1600, under 1400 ect.) groups. If it does become the plus score prize funding byes would becomes less common.

OK, Bill, lets look at this exponential prize structure for the plus score scenario. Based on 16 players and a prize fund of $320, how did you arrive at $$100-50-25-10?

BTW, rather than “exponential,” I would call this a discrete geometric sequence. At least if you leave out the $10 it is:

25x2^? = 25x? = 10 for a 2.5,

25x2^0 = 25x1 = 25 for a 3.0,

25x2^1 = 25x2 = 50 for a 3.5,

25x2^2 = 25x4 = 100 for a 4.0;

with the following score result/payout:

1-4.0 gets $100, payout = $100

1-3.5 gets $50, payout = $50

2-3.0 get $25 each, payout = $50

2-2.5 get $10 each, payout = $20

for a total payout of $220 leaving $100 for the club.

I have some questions about your sequence:

Can we live without the $10?

How did you pick the value 25?

Do you always use a base 2 common ratio?

How far can you expand this scheme?

Do you use this geometric prize structure only for plus score events?

How do you list the plus score scheme in a TLA?

How about this sequence (based on the $20 EF, not 25):

20x2^-1= 20/2 = 10 for a 2.5,

20x2^0 = 20x1 = 20 for a 3.0,

20x2^1 = 20x2 = 40 for a 3.5,

20x2^2 = 20x4 = 80 for a 4.0;

with the following score result/payout:

1-4.0 gets $80, payout = $80

1-3.5 gets $40, payout = $40

2-3.0 get $20 each, payout = $40

2-2.5 get $10 each, payout = $20

for a total payout of $180 leaving $140 for the club;

or with your original score result:

1-4.0 gets $80, payout = $80

4-3.0 gets $20, payout = $80

for a total payout of $160 leaving $160 for the club!

Sorry to be so nit picky, but I like the plus score approach and I’d like to understand how to do this in a systematic way.

TIA,

AJG

Thinking this over, it is not a bad system. It would not give the problem with the first board of the last round: as in theory this game makes or breaks 1st and 2nd place. In this format 1st place could be $60 and second place $40, making a draw with a final score of 3.5 with nobody having a perfect score. The first board players on the last round could break with $50 each with a draw.

Under you’re argument Garcia, nobody would care of the prize funding of the first board of the last round. If the final score with board one is white 4 points and black 3 points; or the final score with board one is white 3.5 points and black 3.5 points; would not matter for the director or members of the other boards with a payout of $70 – as board two could produce a 3.5 point (with 3 players at 3.5 could produce a lower prize fund if there is no 3rd place winner under the standard format) player.

Looking at the prize funding, would be 57.8% [320 entry fees / 185 prise fund = 57.8%] would be a little below the norm with entry fees into prize funding. The best idea of this system would make sure what the players would get after the last round, making the players able to get the prize fund before the last game is done. If in example: board 7 ends the game with one player earning 2.5 points, the director can give the player $25 before all the games are finnished. Under the standard system, prize funding does not happen in general till all the games are finnished.

The only draw back to the system, would be nothing for the weaker (standard system supports in example: a under 1200 or unknowed rating) players: being nothing for the lower half of the rankings. If under this formating, only players with 2.5 out of 4.0 points gains any prize. If we take a state championship, that has 7 rounds with example 100 players – would make only the players with 4.0 points win any prize money. If the top ranking being a 2375 and the bottom ranking of 520 – we will say that ranking number 50 is rated at 1550. If the ratings are correct with the skill of the players, then anyone under 1550 should not get any prize money after the tournament; with the rating being equal with skill, would make anyone in the bottom half unable to win a cash prize. True, there will be players with rating with lower ratings then they should have as players with ratings that are now over rated then their true skill level.

Thanx, Douglas, for the vote of confidence! I’m not too worried about class prizes in a small club event such as mine as all my players are U1200 or UR (except for one 1400).

OK, you’re right, 57% is a bit low. Instead of awarding 4/32 or the prize fund to 4.0 and 3/32 of the prize fund to 3.0 maybe we should do it a bit differently.

Take the case of only 5 plus scores (1-4.0 and 4-3.0 = 16 points) and 16 players paying a $20 EF. How about we set aside a certain percentage for the club to start and the rest to prizes, say 25% club-75% prizes or $80 club-$240 prizes. Further, lets award 4/16 of this $240 (not 4/32 or $320) to the 4.0 score which is $60 and 3/16 to the 3.0 scores which is $45 which totals the $240 set aside for prizes as the total payout:

Prize unit = $240/16 plus score points = $15

1-4.0 gets $60, payout = $60

4-3.0 get $45 each, payout = $180

total payout = $240

club coffers = $80 - $6.40 rating fee = $73.60

As for the other score distribution (prize unit = $240/18.5 plus score points ~ $13 rounding to the nearest dollar):

1-4.0 gets $52, payout = $52

1-3.5 gets $45.50, payout = $45.50

2-3.0 get $39 each, payout = $78

2-2.5 get $32.50 each, payout = $65

total payout = $240.50

club coffers = $79.50 - $6.40 rating fee = $73.10

Would this be more equitable?

TIA,

AJG

The 75% into prize funding sounds right, should never be set into stone for a number of reasons. Having the 18.5 plus score does make the prize funding harder for the players to understand, harder to explain too the players for the cash prize funding, then harder for the director to make the cash prize payout. Unless there is a tie for a cash prize, players understand prize funding like $30, $35, $40, $45, ect… Say during the last round on board one with both players at 3.0 points, you do not white thinking: ‘going to have $39 if blunder this game away, if asking for a draw would get $45.50 or try to win to earn $52’.

The other problem you never thought of: say you have a odd number of players then forced to give someone a bye. With 4 rounds forced to give 4 byes during the tournament. If you give a full point bye would cost $18.50 or the half point bye costing $9.25. As you set the tables for a 16 player field, making each round granting 8 points per-round; if a 17 player field, ‘if a half point bye’ making each round granting 8.5 points per-round; if a 17 player field, ‘if a full point bye’ making each round granting 9 points per-round. If the director does not give full (as it is so common when byes are forced to get a full point bye) point byes, then the players would claim you are cheating them.

The players that are forced to get a full point bye could have a final score over 2.5 points – making a player win $32.50. If given out 4 full point byes, during the tournament they have won 1.5 points with the full point bye making them into the 2.5 point group. That would cost the tournament $130, as having the profit being $73.10 with the $20 entry fee be $93.10. If taking $130 from $93.10, the tournament would loss $36.90: would be zero change in rating fees as byes are un-played games.

The only way to take care of the ‘byes’ would have a ‘house man’ to make the tournament an even number. If having 17 players with full point byes would be the same with 18 players with a ‘house man’ – as both are granting 9 points per-round. As it is the norm for the ‘house man’ to play in the event for free, would force the director to be the playing director (rule 21E, page 89 of the USCF rules of chess), making the tournament harder: as the director can not spend the time and energy into the tournament.

If the tournament has a natural even number of players: the tournament would make money. If there is a odd number of players, then the tournament would need a ‘house man’ or ‘playing director’ just to force the tournament not to lose money, if left with byes could have pay outs with 1 or 4 players that would break the system.