How important is price when you decide on which chess tournament to play?

The Politiken Cup in Denmark is my favourite tournament. And so it should be, not only is it held in beautiful locations, with all the participants staying in the same place (view over the ocean), it is also in Denmark, where I have strong ties obviously.

Yes, they pay me to play there. I even win a few hundred pounds once in a while…

But for others, participating is easily running into £1000 when you include entry fee, accommodation, eating and buying Quality Chess books at the stand. There is no way around it if you are not Danish, as the tournament is held quite a bit from, well anywhere…

What is your view. Do you prefer a cheap and cheerful tournament or a luxury event like this?


The results of last week’s poll offers some encouragement to chess publishers:


28 thoughts on “How important is price when you decide on which chess tournament to play?”

  1. The biggest problem I run into in the hotel fees for multiple days. It can quickly overtake the amount you can win back. I have been trying to attend the Chicago Open for the past four years and the overall average cost tends to exceed $850.00.

    My anniversary is usually the week before that and I have tried to talk my wife into making it an anniversary trip but I haven’t succeeded…yet 🙂

  2. I am just a 2200 rated amateur, who can finally make 2 long tournaments a year. Holiday-wise and financially. I have gradually shitfed to play abroad to see new places, meet new people and feel the warm of sun (coming from North). Even by playing a fantastic tournament I can’t get my money back. I have set a limit that one round should not cost more than 120€, which allows a flight anywhere in Europe, stay at a decent hotel and eat well. And to dive wholly to the fantastic world of chess. My wife occasionally arrives at last round and we spend a couple of days around. A winner formula …

  3. A can only win a rating price at best, which may be around 200€, which is nice, of course. The meaning of the overall price fund comes from the fact that the more money there is on the table, the stronger the tournament is, and I get a chance to play 2 or even 3 grandmasters!

  4. I voted that if it is worth it, I do not mind the costs. I would however make an exception for anywhere in Scandinavia, which is just a little too expensive for me, as for me part of a chess holiday involves going out for a meal in the evening and having some wine or a few beers, and these are quite expensive in Scandinavia!

    For example, I used to play in the e2e4 events in Brighton, as the accomodation was reasonable (50 quid a night including all you can eat breakfast) and there were lots of competitively priced restaurants within 5 minutes walk from the hotel. And pubs with pints for less than 4 pounds!

    Unfortunately for the organiser of a tournament, s/he can do very little about the general cost of living in their country.

    Speaking of more local tournaments that don’t involve travelling too far, I don’t mind paying extra if there are good playing conditions, which for me means:

    – Nice playing hall, with good lighting, lots of space to move around and lots of space at my playing table
    – A good website, which shows beforehand the players who have signed up to play, and which posts up results and pairing as soon as they are available, allowing me to prepare for the next round.
    – Being able to play opponents that are stronger than me, but not too much so. I’m roughtly 1700 elo, so a group with only 1600-2000 is ideal for me. The problem with giant Swiss tournaments is that I usually have to wait until the 3rd round to get reasonable opponents (not too…

  5. I find myself playing the same tournament in Sardinia (Porto Mannu) year upon year because I can count on value for money/great playing conditions/good weather & location/caters for families.

    I have often thought of playing in new events but the websites/brochures often give too little information as to what there is to do outside the chess and for those players with partners/children, this is often key. I have had a few bad experiences with other tournaments not to enter a new event before finding other players who have played in them and interrogating them in order to decide whether they are viable.

    Jacob – maybe you could comment on whether Politiken Cup is a suitable tournament for players with accompanying (non-playing) partners and/or children.

  6. Speaking of European tournaments, is there a good web site that lists major events upcoming in different countries that you guys in Europe use? Or do you have to use a bunch of different sites for each country? In the US I just use the USCF site

  7. @J.

    Thanks for the list. Being across the pond not sure when, or if, I’ll ever get to use it but I hope to in the future.

    I received my 9 Quality Chess books last night. Unfortunately, I set myself a required goal at work before I am allowed to open them which I have so far failed to meet. 🙁
    But they look great sitting on my desk.

  8. I prefer cheap tournaments. Weekend tournaments are the favorites. Those tournaments that last for nine days are ridiculous. It is much better to have double rounds and finish a tournament like Politiken in 5 days. Those tournaments with only one round per day are more like a dragged out “chessvacation”.

    My favorite time limit is 2×1 hour. Five rounds/per day

    If counting the cost for travel and hotell, the prize money is really low at most tournaments.
    To make more players play, the tournaments needs to be shorter with more rounds per day.

  9. Thomas :

    Bebbe :
    My favorite time limit is 2×1 hour. Five rounds/per day

    I prefer serious chess. Too many rapid events around.

    Agreed, you might as well stay at home and play online if you only want rapid games.

  10. I agree – my favourite tempo is 2 hours for 40 moves, followed by 1 hour for 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the game. And of course with the possibility of an adjournment 🙂

  11. In response to Ray and Bebbe, I have to disagree with both.

    In Ray’s case, Adjournments must be abolished. This isn’t 1893. This is 2015. I played at a club in Charlotte, North Carolina that I will no longer play at because the guy running it is the devil, but he used to do 30/1, 30/1, 30/1, etc with adjournments, and I stepped in and told him this needed to stop because other were using computers between weeks to analyze, and that it was no longer me vs my opponent, but rather me vs fritz. Adjournments are past date.

    In Bebbe’s case, I can not agree at all with the shorter time and more rounds. 40/90, SD/30, 30sec/Increment per move or 40/2, SD/1 is light years better than G/60 or G/90. G/60 is garbage chess. Too many scrambles. Quality of the games go down significantly!

    The problem I see is that many organizers offer too flat a prize fund. One major organizer in the United States will have 10 prizes per section, each section having 150 players. Those that win the top 4 or so spots will profit even after hotel costs. Most others I see will have 8 prizes for a 20-man section, and 12 prizes for a 40-man section. They become too flat, and first place is lucky if they break even. Quit trying to appease half the crowd, and realize that only the top results should get paid and get paid handily for it. Scoring 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 9 doesn’t deserve a dime! Fewer prizes, higher ratio of 1st place to entry fee. That’s the way to go!

  12. I agree that the chess I am advocating is garbage. and that the level of the chess goes down.
    But the issue is time. It is better that the level of our chess games goes down than the level of our lives. You have to choose. It is not a perfect world.

    I agree that 1 hour is not the optimal, there should be some sort of increment like 40 min with 30 sec increment per move.

    Longer games are suitable for team matches but not for tournaments

  13. I garee that all price money should go to top prizes. The proffesionals trying to make a living really deserves this. There could however be symbolic prizes lower down the ranks.

  14. The goal is IM norms at the moment, so cheaper is better at the moment. More tournaments = more chances for success.

  15. I can Play one, Max. two tournaments a year and my wife accompanies me. As seh doesnot Play chess it has to be a nice place and decent accomodation. For me prices and especially category prices are completly irrelevant. I want to Play against decent opposition, so closed im tournaments, Open with min. Elo Ort Open with a high percentage of good Players are Important. I Played a lot in Mallorca in the last years , which is great if you live ingermany

  16. I would say that the tournament costs play a big role in the overall development of my own chess. I have a rating of 2350 FIDE and my goal is to achieve IM norms (I have none yet). I came very close to it in the last tournaments I played, but I had a feeling that I lacked practise and experience when playing against strong opposition. The reason for that is that I can only play 1-2 tournaments per year, since my financial situation isn’t that good, and I live in a place where you have to travel around if you want to play good tournaments. So I think if I had the chance to play more (if it was cheaper) I would have more chances to succeed and increase my level. By the way, I compensate this lack of tournament practise by solving exercises of the Grandmaster Preparation series! Cheers

  17. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    What would be your advice to someone who has a poor financial state but wants to play for norms? Or a promising junior player whose family entered serious financial problems, therefore stopped playing copletely for a few years, and is an adult but still in a shaky financial foundation? Is picking and choosing 1 or 2 a year a good plan?

    Also another factor is if one time of travel expenses to a great tournament puts a significant strain on the player and the family–another problem?

  18. My advice would be: if you really love chess and playing in tournaments, save money! And train everyday, so all this efforts can be translated in a good performance. Training and working hard really makes the difference.

  19. I’m on a roadtrip in Eastern Europe (CZ, Hungary and Romania), and spend on average less than 20€/day for food and accommodation. [I take double rooms with girlfriend]

  20. @ Gilchrist is a Legend et al re playing for norms at budget cost, I have no personal experience but the series written by GM Bryan Smith (USA) is full of pathos but also exhilarating (perhaps to some bordering on the depressive?!)

    2011 – chasing the GM norms

    2015 – GM giving up on chess?

  21. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @weng siow
    Thanks for the links. It might sounds depressive, but someone who really wants norms and do their best at chess, has the capacity to do it, but it hindered by non-chess problems, can get quite depressing. What about a 2250 who can train and might possibly be at 2450 strength from her/his training and studying but only plays one tournament each year or one each two years because she is about to lose her house. Add to that personal problems like having an unemployed family because no one wants to hire them–possibilities of participating in great chess events around the world compared to someone who is 2250 with the same capacity, but has multi-millionaire parents to afford playing in 1-2 tournaments per month. The second player inevitably is going to end up with more norms and a higher rating. That is what would be depressing to the first player.

  22. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Maybe there is an upside–if a 2250 who studies and is around 2450 strength plays in 1 tournament a year unlike the one who can play all over the world 20 times a year, the first player can probably go +30 points easily each tournament. But I agree, if the player has to choose between being homeless and/or not eating and spending the money on travelling for a great tournament, there must be an easier solution…

  23. One problem with playing only 1-2 tournaments per year is it’s easy to put too much pressure on oneself to perform on those precious few occasions. This varies from person to person of course, but I’ve had some of my best results when I didn’t feel all that well-prepared and just went to try to play good moves and not care too much about points and ratings.

    You could try to find two strong tournaments that follow each other closely in time and are not far apart. That way you save travel cost per tournament and can also reduce the performance pressure somewhat, since an average or slightly bad tournament followed by a really good one would be acceptable.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top