Formation of PCA brought money to chess
Oct 05, 2013

Chennai: In August earlier this year, Chennai IM G. Akash returned home with `1.5 lakh as appearance money despite losing in the first round of the world cup chess. While former world champion Bobby Fischer succeeded in bringing more prize money after a sustained campaign, it was Garry Kasparov who ensured that professionalism became the norm in the mind game.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the formation of Professional Chess Association (PCA), a rival body to world chess federation (Fide), in 1993 brought more money into the sport. PCA was established as a result of the fallout between Fide and some top players headed by Kasparov and England’s Nigel Short.

The trigger for the Kasparov-led revolt was Fide’s poor marketing for the world championship in 1993. While PCA managed to create a new wave in chess by bringing in a multinational sponsor in the form of Intel and organised Grand Prix events with impressive prize money, the rebel group was not able to sustain its role as a parallel organisation to Fide for a longer period.

The rise and fall of PCA happened within a span of three years. But the parallel body floated by Kasparov bequeathed some crucial benefits to the chess community.

Apart from attracting sponsorship and money for the game, PCA also paved way for bigger events involving GMs at 2600 and 2700 elo rating levels.

“The PCA-Fide split meant there was room for two world championship cycle in the same year,” said British GM David Norwood. It helped top GMs across the world to make decent money from chess. The parallel world championship cycle gave players an additional opportunity to have a go at the title.

India’s Viswanathan Anand profited the most, as he was able to avenge his Fide cycle quarterfinal loss to USA’s Gata Kamsky in the finals of the PCA candidates’ tournament in 1995. Anand then went on to challenge the mighty Kasparov. Even though he failed to beat the Russian, he gained valuable experience.

This apart, PCA and Intel teamed up for a series of knockout Grand Prix events, which were played using rapid format (30 minutes each) instead of the regular seven-hour games. However, following Kasparov’s decision to play a match against IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue, Intel stopped supporting PCA events.

Chennai GM R.B. Ramesh said: “PCA fizzled out after it lost the patron age of Intel, but the awareness on the use of computers for chess preparation was a legacy of the PCA venture. Even though Chessbase programmes were available from 198384, we came to know of powerful engines only after Kasparov lost to Deep Blue,” he added.

Ramesh said Fide introduced the world cup only after PCA emerged. “The knockout system of chess tournaments was Kasparov’s pet idea. Fide began to use it to find the challenger for its world championship and later the world champion itself,” he added.

Noting that the concept of appearance money in world cup benefited many GMs, Ramesh said even qualifying for the world cup can be useful financially. GM Pravin Thipsay admitted that PCA forced Fide to increase prize money. “PCA got a lot of publicity for chess in the West and top players benefited from its tournaments. But it did not do anything specific for players at the lower level,” Thipsay added.

Moldovan GM Victor Bologan, who won the 2003 Dortmund tournament ahead of higher rated players such as Vladimir Kramnik, Anand, and Peter Leko, told Deccan Chronicle that the chess world should stay united.

“Any division including the one spearheaded by Kasparov didn’t help the chess world to become better. Fide is very strong and we should look for improvements inside it,” he added.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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