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Huge scholastic event in Caracas, Venezuela

Article by Susan Polgar

I was absolutely stunned when I visited a major national scholastic event in Caracas, Venezuela. 600 young players, coming from all over Venezuela, had to qualify to earn a spot at the event today. It is sponsored by MRW (similar to FedEx in the US).

I have been in countless scholastic events in the US. It is quite a contrast. At this tournament in Caracas, all players were provided with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, all boards, sets, and clocks are provided.

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

Each participant also received a T-shirt as well as other goodies. There is no entry fee and the organizer is not trying to make money from these children’s parents. Winners even get cash scholarships to support their chess endeavors. This event (organized by a private company + volunteers) is truly for the benefit of the players.

In the US, it is quite the opposite. In fact, it is quite the opposite from the rest of the world of chess. Even professional players are expected to bring their own sets, boards, and clocks to events (I find this very insulting). Most players (GMs excluded) have to pay serious entry fees and other expenses to compete. These events are organized to benefit private organizer(s) and it has very little to do help the chess world.

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

Scholastic events in the US is truly a cash cow for the US Chess Federation. Parents usually have to pay big money to support their children going to various national scholastic events, sometimes in the thousands (airfare, hotel, rental cars, entry fees, meals, etc.).

There are usually 1,500 – 2,200 players + parents in each national scholastic event in the US and a number of them are organized each year. The SuperNational can draw 5,300 + parents and siblings. You can do your own math :)

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

I have tried very hard to change the chess culture in America. This is why I try to hold all my events at the highest standard possible (reasonable entry fees and hotel costs, in addition to providing typically over $100,000 in chess scholarships and prizes). Unfortunately, it is a very hard thing to change so far in the United States when many organizers care more about making money than helping chess grow.

Photo gallery from Caracas

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

Scholastic chess event in Caracas, Venezuela

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