In tennis, some players are great on hard court or grass but cannot play on clay. Some are masters on clay but falter badly on other surfaces. So how do you determine the best player?

In chess, we have the same situation. Some players are great in tournament play. And even in tournament play, some are great in Swiss and some are great in round robin format. Some players are great in match play. And some players are great in racking up rating points.

From the thousands of postings on various blogs and forums, even the fans are split in their opinions. Match play has been the long tradition in chess. But very few names can generate enough interest in big dollars sponsorship.

It is easy to say I want a billion dollars and have unlimited powers. It is easy to scream and shout about what one wants. But reality is another story. How many people are capable in finding real money in sponsorships in endorsements? There has been very little interests in sponsoring big money candidates’ matches. The offer so far is $15,000 prize funds as stated elsewhere on the Internet. That is a sad and harsh reality. We cannot all live in a fantasy world.

What about the World Women’s Championship? What does it say when the top 3 rated players in the world (Judit, me and Xie Jun) are not very excited about competing in any women’s cycle. Been there, done that, as they say. The last time Judit played in any Women’s World Championship was in 1992 (World Rapid and Blitz Championship). The last time for me was in 1996 and the last time for Xie Jun was around 5 years ago.

So what is the best way to decide the true #1 in the world? What is the best way to attract sponsors and stir up excitement for chess? What is the best way to motivate the best players to compete? I do not think Kramnik, Anand, Topalov, Svidler or Leko would be thrilled about playing World Championship Candidates’ Matches for $15,000 total prize funds. I certainly would not.

It costs a lot of money to train for many months to prepare for big matches. I basically gave up everything to train for my world championships. I was there. If I have never won any title, I may try it once. But once that goal is achieved, it does not make any financial sense to make big sacrifices to lose money.

Top level chess has many big problems. Some of the top players are not good with PR. Some do not possess good speaking skills. Some do not even care about the media. So before the fans start shouting about “We want this, we want that”, please think about ALL the aspects. Do you want many of the top players to sit out if there are no serious money for candidates’ matches?

We need to think with our heads and not on just emotions. Even a multibillion dollar sport like baseball changed their system by adding one wild card team in each league. Is there a system that everyone can be happy with?
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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar