10 March 2012

New Nagas: Guaranteed Prize Fund

This article continues my sharing of experience on organising the New Nagas event.

The financial aspect is quite often the most important for a project. Too often, we come across disputes and unpleasantness arising from less than clear interpretations on the sharing of surpluses or apportioning of losses after completion of the project. All these make the cost estimates (or budget) a very important document. This article focuses on the prize fund and structure.

The biggest cost item in the cost budget is, of course, the prize fund. I am happy to say that the prize fund of RM1,500 is guaranteed. The announced prizes are guaranteed irrespective of the number of participants.

Prize Fund and Structure:
The prize fund and structure were major issues to address. The fund could be any reasonable amount while the prize structure could take various forms and decisions have to be made.

Prize Fund: The prize fund in local 1-day events generally ranges from RM600 to RM1,500 with most events offering below RM1,000. The prize fund for this event takes on more significance because it may be the first of a series and what is decided now will be a benchmark for future events.  The amount of RM1,500 was finally decided as reasonable for a semi-social 2-day event. It is just a policy decision which cannot really be rationalized.

1st Prize: How much should the 1st Prize be and should it be an amount much bigger than the rest of the prizes. For example, 1st prize RM500 and 2nd prize set much lower at RM200. Obviously, there are differing views. A big 1st prize looks good on the banner and for marketing purposes. Again my decision came down to it being a semi-social event where I feel the prize money should be more closely shared. RM300 is I think very reasonable.

The Big Prizes: It is well-known that there are serious players around who ‘play for money’. These are pretty strong players who may not be ‘professionals’ as in they make a living from chess, but to whom prize winnings represents significant additional pocket money. The ‘big prizes’ are the 1st -5th prizes ranging from RM300 down to RM100 totaling RM1,000. This decision is based on my personal opinion that players finishing with equal points should share the prize money. However, the local practice is not to share prize money and this structure with RM50 less to the next prize is some sort of compromise between my personal view and local practice.

Consolation Prizes: I consider the 6th prize onwards as consolation prizes. Local 1-day events generally provide prizes for the top 8 to 10 finishers, plus special prizes based on age or ratings. The special prizes are to attract more players from different ages and playing strength whose decisions to play may hinge on their chances of winning a prize and leaving the event happy and hungry for more (repeat customers).

This area was difficult for me as I wish to attract the serious and stronger players and yet do not wish to discourage up and coming players. The final decision steered towards attracting stronger players who wish to have some fun playing serious chess over two days and at the same time who feel they have a chance of getting into the top 15 and get back some of the entrance fee. For the up and coming players, they pay RM50 for a chance of playing with their peers and stronger players in serious competition. They shall have their chances of finishing higher up and even winning prizes in the future as they improve by playing in such events as New Nagas.

Thus the prize structure is completed with RM500 distributed among the 6th to 15th top finishers.

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