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NEWS

Bridging Minds: CMO Andrew Winton on the Unique Appeal and Marketing of the Chess Industry

In a revealing interview with Andrew Winton, Chief Marketing Officer of World Chess, the intricate marketing landscape of the chess industry is explored, shedding light on its timeless appeal, intellectual engagement, and global reach.

The chess industry stands out uniquely in the marketing realm due to its rich historical significance and universal recognition. Chess’s timeless appeal transcends generations and cultures, making it a captivating subject for a diverse audience. The intellectual engagement required by the game aligns it with qualities such as intelligence, strategy, and skill, attracting a dedicated and passionate following. The global reach of chess, unbounded by language barriers, creates a wide-reaching and inclusive community. This broad spectrum, ranging from casual players to professional grandmasters, offers abundant marketing opportunities. Furthermore, the digital transformation of chess, bolstered by online platforms and streaming services, enhances its accessibility and engagement, particularly among tech-savvy enthusiasts.

In this context, Andrew Winton, CMO of World Chess, shares his key strategies for audience engagement, product promotion, and overcoming industry challenges. He highlights the innovative approaches and emerging trends shaping the market and provides insights into how World Chess distinguishes itself through technology integration, global outreach, and inclusivity initiatives.

What makes the chess industry unique and appealing from a marketing perspective?

The chess industry is unique and appealing from a marketing perspective due to several factors:

  • Timeless Appeal: Chess has a long-standing history and is universally recognized, making it appealing across various demographics and cultures.
  • Intellectual Engagement: The game is associated with intelligence, strategy, and skill, which attracts a dedicated and passionate audience.
  • Global Reach: Chess transcends language barriers, enabling global engagement and a wide-reaching community.
  • Diverse Audience: From casual players to professional grandmasters, the chess community includes a broad spectrum of participants, offering numerous marketing opportunities.
  • Digital Transformation: The rise of online platforms and streaming services has brought a new dimension to chess, making it more accessible and engaging for a tech-savvy audience.

How do you think we can effectively engage with our audience and create a strong connection with chess enthusiasts?

To effectively engage with our audience and create a strong connection, we can:

  • Leverage Social Media: Utilize platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to share content, interact with followers, and create a sense of community.
  • Content Creation: Develop engaging content, including tutorials, game analyses, and behind-the-scenes footage of tournaments to keep the audience informed and entertained.
  • Collaborations and Sponsorships: Partner with popular chess influencers, grandmasters, and content creators to reach a wider audience.
  • Interactive Platforms: Invest in and improve interactive platforms where enthusiasts can play, learn, and watch chess games live.
  • Community Events: Organize online and offline events such as tournaments, webinars, and meet-ups to foster a sense of belonging and direct interaction with fans.

What are some of the most effective ways to promote chess-related products and services in today’s market?

Effective ways to promote chess-related products and services include:

  • Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with well-known chess players and content creators who can endorse products and services authentically.
  • Online Advertising: Use targeted ads on social media and search engines to reach potential customers based on their interests and online behavior.
  • Content Marketing: Produce high-quality content such as blogs, videos, and podcasts that provide value and establish authority in the chess industry.
  • Email Marketing: Build a subscriber list and send regular newsletters with updates, promotions, and exclusive content to keep the audience engaged.
  • E-commerce Optimization: Ensure a seamless shopping experience on our website with easy navigation, clear product descriptions, and excellent customer service.

What are the biggest challenges you encounter when marketing in the chess industry, and how do you navigate them?

The biggest challenges include:

  • Niche Market: Chess is a specialized market, which can limit the audience size. To navigate this, we focus on deeply understanding our audience and tailoring our marketing efforts to meet their specific needs and interests.
  • Competition: With many platforms and brands vying for attention, standing out can be difficult. We navigate this by highlighting our unique offerings, such as exclusive content, partnerships with top players, and innovative products.
  • Evolving Trends: Keeping up with rapidly changing trends in digital content and engagement can be challenging. We stay agile by constantly monitoring industry developments and being ready to adapt our strategies accordingly.
  • Perception of Complexity: Chess is often seen as a complex game, which can deter new players. We address this by creating beginner-friendly content and promoting the game’s accessibility and cognitive benefits.

How do you identify and leverage emerging trends in the chess world to enhance our marketing efforts?

We identify and leverage emerging trends by:

  • Monitoring Online Activity: Keeping an eye on social media, forums, and chess-related websites to spot emerging trends and topics of interest.
  • Engaging with Influencers: Collaborating with influencers who are at the forefront of new trends and can provide insights into the latest developments.
  • Data Analytics: Using data analytics tools to track user behavior, preferences, and emerging patterns within our platforms and the broader market.
  • Feedback Loops: Establishing strong feedback loops with our audience to understand their evolving interests and needs.
  • Innovative Initiatives: Launching and testing new initiatives, such as live-streaming events, augmented reality chess experiences, and gamified learning modules, to stay ahead of the curve.

How important is customer feedback in shaping our marketing strategies, and what methods do we use to gather this feedback?

Customer feedback is crucial in shaping our marketing strategies. It helps us understand our audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points. Methods to gather feedback include:

  • Surveys and Polls: Regularly conducting surveys and polls to gather direct feedback on products, services, and content.
  • Social Media Monitoring: Analyzing comments, messages, and engagement on social media to gauge public opinion and identify areas for improvement.
  • Customer Support Interactions: Using interactions with customer support as a valuable source of feedback on common issues and requests.
  • Community Forums: Participating in and monitoring chess forums and online communities where enthusiasts discuss their experiences and suggestions.
  • Beta Testing: Involving customers in beta testing new features or products and collecting their feedback to refine our offerings.

What is World Chess doing differently, and how does it affect the market?

World Chess is pioneering several initiatives that set us apart:

  • Innovative Formats: Introducing new tournament formats and broadcast styles to make chess more exciting and accessible to a broader audience.
  • Technology Integration: Leveraging cutting-edge technology such as AI for analysis, augmented reality for immersive experiences, and robust online platforms for playing and learning chess.
  • Global Outreach: Focusing on global expansion by hosting events in diverse locations and promoting chess as a universal language.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Forming strategic partnerships with educational institutions, tech companies, and media outlets to expand our reach and impact.
  • Inclusive Initiatives: Promoting inclusivity and diversity within the chess community through targeted programs and campaigns.

These efforts position World Chess as a forward-thinking leader in the industry, attracting new audiences, fostering greater engagement, and setting new standards for how chess is marketed and experienced worldwide.

 132   3 d   chess   marketing   World Chess

World Chess launches new and revamped interface for FIDE Online Arena

World Chess plc (LSE: CHSS), a leading chess organisation committed to enhancing the global mass market appeal of chess by introducing a variety of innovative chess-related activities, is happy to unveil the latest upgrade to FIDE Online Arena (the “Arena”).

World Chess is the exclusive operator of the FIDE Online Arena, a chess platform which allows paid members to receive an online rating recognised by FIDE, the international chess federation and world governing body recognised by the International Olympic Committee. Following significant investment in the platform and the subsequent launch of Arena 2.0 in October 2023, the Company is excited to announce the launch of the Arena’s all-new interface.

Key new features include the ability to start playing a game of chess with one click, meaning interested users don’t have to register and rather can simply click and play, encouraging first-time players to the platform. Users can now also start multiple games in different time controls allowing players to find a relevant opponent faster whilst any chosen settings will now be remembered by the platform and saved for the next time you log in, allowing for a more personalised experience.

At chessarena.com, existing and new users will experience a new design and style to fit with the recognisable World Chess branding as well as entry to masterclasses, easily accessible from the homepage. World Chess expects these updates to encourage new players to join the 740,000 current registered users and to drive additional subscribers with an annual subscription price of €49.

Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive Officer of World Chess, said: “We are improving the chessarena.com every week, and happy to bring new features and user interface improvements that will help our users discover and enjoy chess.

‘We are always learning from our customers, and will continue releasing exciting new features. As we see the continued growth of users, with an increase of 40% since IPO, we encourage you to check out the new Arena interface and join our growing community.’

World Chess Launches Chess News Programme Across Major TV Stations Worldwide

World Chess (LSE: CHSS), a leading chess organisation committed to enhancing the global mass market appeal of chess by introducing a variety of innovative chess-related activities, is pleased to announce the launch of its new television programme which will be broadcast on major TV stations globally.

Scheduled to air from September 2024 to July 2025, this innovative chess news programme aims to enhance the way chess is presented on television, transforming it into a compelling and mainstream TV sport. The new series will consist of ten episodes, each approximately 30 minutes long. Produced in collaboration with sports-focused TV production company Sunset+Vine, the programmes will feature content that addresses major issues in the world of chess, including cheating, gender equality, politics and scandals, as well as coverage of major events. This comprehensive approach makes the series unprecedented in its scope and ambition.

In addition to high-quality production, the programme already has a Presenting Rights Sponsor in World Chess’ long-standing collaborator, it.com Domains. This launch is the next strategic step between World Chess and it.com Domains, aimed at opening the world of chess to wider audiences and supporting the community of this intelligent sport.

Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive Officer of World Chess, commented: “We are excited to launch this new TV programme at a time when chess is experiencing a global boom.

‘Our goal is to bring the excitement, drama, and strategic depth of chess to a wider audience. With the expertise of Sunset+Vine, this TV series will not only entertain but also educate and inspire viewers around the world.

‘Following the successes of our Armageddon Series, which we launched in 2023 across major TV channels including Bloomberg and MSNBC, we are excited to continue innovating and expanding the reach of chess, using our new TV series to recognise and celebrate this competitive sport.’

Peter Angell, Chief Executive Officer of Sunset+Vine, stated:

‘We are proud to partner with World Chess on this innovative project. Our team is committed to showcasing the intensity and intrigue of chess, making it accessible and engaging for a global audience.’

Andrey Insarov, Chief Executive Officer of it.com Domains, added:

‘This groundbreaking partnership between World Chess, Sunset+Vine, and it.com Domains is more than just a television programme, it’s a strategic move to elevate chess from a niche interest to a mainstream phenomenon. Chess is transcending the board to become a spectator sport appealing to all ages and backgrounds. As  long-time supporters of the chess community, it.com Domains is proud to partner in popularising chess through innovative content that entertains while educating viewers on the profound strategies at play.’

 530   25 d   Company News   main feature

Comparative analysis of top women’s and men’s revenue in different sports, including Chess

The landscape of sports revenue is marked by significant gender disparities, with top female athletes generally earning less than their male counterparts across various sports. This article examines the revenue differences between top female and male athletes in tennis, soccer, basketball, golf, and chess, shedding light on the factors contributing to these disparities.

The sports revenue landscape shows significant gender disparities, with top female athletes generally earning less than their male counterparts across multiple sports. Let’s dive into some of the most famous sports around the world.

Tennis

Men:
Top Earner: Novak Djokovic
Annual Earnings: Approximately $44.6 million (including endorsements)

Women:
Top Earner: Naomi Osaka
Annual Earnings: Approximately $57.3 million (including endorsements)

*Tennis stands out as an anomaly where a top female athlete, Naomi Osaka, out-earned the top male athlete, Novak Djokovic. Osaka’s significant endorsement deals contribute heavily to her revenue, indicating a higher marketability and brand appeal compared to many male counterparts. However, this is not indicative of a general trend in tennis, where overall earnings from prize money are still higher for men in many tournaments.*

Soccer

Men:
Top Earner: Lionel Messi
Annual Earnings: Approximately $130 million (including endorsements)

Women:
Top Earner: Alex Morgan
Annual Earnings: Approximately $4.6 million (including endorsements)

*Soccer reveals a stark contrast in earnings, with Lionel Messi’s revenue dwarfing that of Alex Morgan. The substantial gap is driven by differences in league revenues, sponsorship deals, and prize money. Men’s soccer commands higher broadcast rights fees and larger global audiences, translating to significantly higher earnings for top male players.*

Basketball

Men:
Top Earner: LeBron James
Annual Earnings: Approximately $96.5 million (including endorsements)

Women:
Top Earner: Diana Taurasi
Annual Earnings: Approximately $1.5 million (including endorsements)

*In basketball, LeBron James’ earnings are astronomically higher than those of Diana Taurasi. The revenue disparity is influenced by the NBA’s lucrative TV contracts, ticket sales, and sponsorship deals, which far exceed those of the WNBA. The women’s league is still growing its audience and commercial appeal, leading to lower salaries and endorsement opportunities.*

Golf

Men:
Top Earner: Tiger Woods
Annual Earnings: Approximately $68 million (including endorsements)

Women:
Top Earner: Nelly Korda
Annual Earnings: Approximately $3.5 million (including endorsements)

*Golf showcases a significant revenue gap, with Tiger Woods’ earnings vastly surpassing those of Nelly Korda. The men’s tour offers higher prize money, and male golfers tend to secure more lucrative endorsement deals. The LPGA has been making strides to increase visibility and sponsorship, but it still lags behind the PGA in terms of overall revenue.*

Chess

Chess also exhibits a notable disparity in earnings. Magnus Carlsen, the world’s top male chess player, earns significantly more than Hou Yifan, the top female chess player, and Ju Wenjun, the reigning Women’s World Champion. OnlytThe total prize fund for the World Chess Championship events is 750,000 euros, with 500,000 for the Open and 250,000 for the Women’s Candidates.

Carlsen’s higher earnings are due to larger prize funds in open tournaments, higher fees for participation in events, and more substantial endorsement deals. The chess world is working towards more inclusive prize structures, but significant gaps remain.

Factors Contributing to Revenue Disparities

  1. Viewership and Market Demand: Men’s sports generally attract larger audiences, leading to higher advertising revenues, ticket sales, and broadcast rights fees.
  2. Sponsorship and Endorsements: Companies are more inclined to invest in male athletes due to their broader reach and marketability. However, exceptions like Naomi Osaka demonstrate the potential for top female athletes to secure substantial endorsements.
  3. Prize Money: Many sports have higher prize money for men due to larger financial investments and revenues generated from men’s events.
  4. Media Coverage: Greater media exposure for men’s sports boosts their commercial value, further widening the revenue gap.
  5. Historical and Cultural Factors: Traditional views and historical precedence have long favored men’s sports, creating entrenched financial inequities.

Closing the Gap

Efforts to close the revenue gap include advocating for equal prize money, increasing media coverage of women’s sports, and promoting sponsorship deals for female athletes. Initiatives like the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) push for equal prize money at major tournaments and campaigns for better media representation are steps in the right direction. Enhanced investment in women’s sports leagues and grassroots programs can also drive long-term growth and financial parity.

Conclusion

While some female athletes, particularly in tennis, have begun to close the revenue gap with their male counterparts, significant disparities remain across most sports. Addressing these imbalances requires concerted efforts from sports organizations, sponsors, and media entities to create a more equitable landscape for all athletes.

 453   25 d   breaking news   gender equality   main feature

FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 to feature the Iconic World Chess Sets

The Iconic World Chess Sets will be used at the FIDE Candidates Tournament and the Championship Match; FIDE Continues Collaboration with World Chess on the Chess Sets for 2024-2025.

Toronto, March 29 – The tradition that has lasted since 2012 continues as the major FIDE events, including the upcoming FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 as well as the 2024 Championship Match, will exclusively use the iconic World Chess Championship sets.

The sets, designed by Pentagram for World Chess, have become synonymous with the pinnacle of chess competition, adorning the stages of the FIDE Championship Matches, the Candidates Tournaments, and other prestigious events for over a decade. This partnership extends through 2025, ensuring these remarkable sets remain integral to the chess world’s most elite competitions.

Renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship and timeless design, the World Chess Championship sets have earned a place as one of the most sought-after chess sets globally. Manufactured by World Chess, they epitomize the perfect blend of form and function, capturing the essence of chess at its highest level. All Championship Matches and Candidates Tournaments since 2012 have used the same chess design, which was initially developed with input from Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, among others.

“The chess board and pieces are often the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of chess. The evolution of design and craftsmanship in chess sets throughout history has elevated them to the status of art. These visual components play an important role in shaping the game’s image and promotion. We are delighted that the tradition of specially designing chess sets for top events has emerged, and we look forward to its continuation,” — FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said.

“Chess is a collection of traditions, almost like a religious act: a handshake, recording a move, a dress code… I am happy that World Chess, together with FIDE, has built another tradition — a special set for special events. Now, it’s all about the games!” — says Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess.

World Chess manufactures different variants of its iconic design, ranging from premium redwood options to high-quality plastic sets for club play. Available for purchase online and in select elite stores around the world, including the prestigious Harrods in London, the World Chess Championship sets offer enthusiasts the opportunity to bring home a piece of chess history.

Ahead of the highly anticipated FIDE Candidates Tournament in April 2024 and the prestigious FIDE World Championship Match in November 2024, World Chess is thrilled to unveil a special limited edition chess set. Crafted from ebony wood and housed in a classic World Chess black box adorned with iconic symbols representing the FIDE Championship Cycle, this set boasts a solid black wooden chess board with a smooth finish, perfect for championship-level matches. Each board features a metal plaque displaying the edition number and a commemorative inscription honoring the legacy of the World Chess Championship.

Survey: Majority of Elite Female Chess Players Believe a Woman Will Be World Chess Champion

A recent survey conducted by World Chess among participants of the Swiss Queens Wednesdays, an elite online chess tournament series, has revealed a significant shift in perceptions among female chess players regarding gender barriers in the sport. A remarkable 65% of respondents expressed confidence that a woman will become the world chess champion, with 32% believing it could happen in less than 5 years and 33% foreseeing it within the next decade.

This optimistic outlook from the majority of respondents underscores a growing belief in the chess community that gender will not be a barrier to reaching the pinnacle of global chess competition.

The Swiss Queens Wednesdays series, organized by World Chess in collaboration with FIDE, plays a critical role in this progress by providing a platform for female players to compete at the highest levels, gain visibility, and inspire aspiring chess champions. The tournament series is instrumental in challenging the historically male-dominated nature of chess and fostering a more equitable environment.

Historical precedents, such as Judit Polgar’s ascension into the top ten global rankings, have already shown that female players can compete at the highest levels. The renewed interest in chess, fueled by portrayals of female chess prodigies in popular culture, such as Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” further amplifies the conversation around the potential for a female world chess champion.

The findings from the Swiss Queens participants survey are a testament to the changing attitudes and growing confidence among female chess players. World Chess and FIDE are committed to continuing their support for initiatives like the Swiss Queens Wednesday, which are vital for achieving gender parity in chess and realizing the ambition of crowning a female world chess champion.

Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess: “I agree with the 65%. I think we will see the female world champion very soon. And I can’t wait to celebrate it!”

Dana Reizniece-Ozola, the Deputy Chair of the FIDE Management Board: “We are not surprised by the findings of the survey indicating a growing confidence among elite female chess players in general. This shift in perception underscores the ongoing efforts, including those of FIDE, to promote inclusivity and diversity within the chess community. We hope that with projects like 100 Years of FIDE and the Swiss Queens Wednesday Series, this inclusivity will continue to rise.”

Swiss Queens Wednesday Series website.

 2540   3 mo   Events   main feature

World Chess Announces Strategic Updates and Celebrates Chess History with Special Edition Sets

World Chess plc (LSE:CHSS), a prominent chess organisation committed to enhancing the global mass market appeal of chess by introducing a variety of innovative chess-related activities, is pleased to provide updates on strategic developments, including the appointment of a Chief Marketing Officer, player acquisition metrics, and the continuation of its collaboration with FIDE.

Photo: World Chess

Introducing Andrew Winton as Chief Marketing Officer

World Chess welcomes Andrew Winton, a marketing executive with a proven track record at Amazon, News Corp, EE, Sky, and Kaspersky, as the Chief Marketing Officer, a non-board position. Andrew’s expertise will be pivotal in elevating World Chess’s brand globally, spearheading innovative marketing strategies, and fostering a unified chess community. His leadership will enable the integration of the Company’s diverse offerings, including chessarena.com, the official FIDE gaming platform, chess clubs, and the Armageddon Championship Series, under a cohesive brand identity.

Iconic Chess Pieces Take Center Stage

World Chess is proud to continue its collaboration with the International Chess Federation (FIDE) on the exclusive use of the World Chess Championship sets in the FIDE Championship Matches, the Candidates Tournaments and other elite events through 2024 and 2025. Designed by Pentagram for World Chess, this iconic chess set is one of the most popular chess sets in the world and is a key piece of the World Chess merchandising portfolio. The set is manufactured by World Chess for use in the Championship cycle and is also sold online and in premier retail outlets around the world, including Harrods, London.

Celebratory Special Edition Sets

Ahead of the FIDE Candidates Tournament in April 2024 and the FIDE World Championship Match in November 2024, the Company is excited to launch a special edition chess set. This limited edition set offers chess enthusiasts worldwide a piece of chess history.
FIDE Online Arena’s Metrics

World Chess runs the official FIDE gaming platform, chessarena.com. Following the Arena 2.0 update in October 2023, World Chess is delighted to report growth in FIDE Online Arena’s user base, which now has 740,000 registered users and includes 8,500 Pro members – paying members who have their own, unique FIDE ID. Following several marketing campaigns, the platform is reporting the direct cost of acquisition at €37 for its paid subscribers, well below the annual subscription price of €50, underscoring the platform’s value and exclusive role as the only official gaming platform that is authorised to issue online ratings and titles recognised by FIDE.

Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive Officer of World Chess, said: “We are delighted to welcome Andrew Winton as our Chief Marketing Officer. Engaging a talented and experienced CMO brings us experience and industry knowledge that will help us on our mission to take the next step into promoting chess as a modern sport. We have also been focused on product development, ensuring that we continue producing desirable products with modern designs that will engage the global chess community.

‘As we look ahead, we look forward to developing World Chess as both a brand and community, whilst carefully managing our resources towards the scaling of marketing efforts across our entire ecosystem.’

 2346   3 mo   main feature   Update   World Chess

Launch of Women’s Wednesday Online Tournament Series

World Chess plc (LSE: CHSS), a prominent chess organisation committed to enhancing the global mass market appeal of chess by introducing a variety of innovative chess-related activities, is pleased to announce the launch of Women’s Wednesday Online Tournament Series, Swiss Queens Wednesday, in partnership with the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

This new weekly event is dedicated to elevating women’s participation in the sport and will be hosted on the (https://chessarena.com/swiss-qweens-wednesday?utm_content=article FIDE Online Arena platform)) as the Company strives to empower women within the chess community. The Series will leverage proprietary technology to ensure fair play and global participation on the FIDE Online Arena using World Chess’ Night Watch Fair Play Suite, technology which will analyse games, with players required to join a monitored Zoom meeting during games.

World Chess and FIDE hope the Series will offer all titled women chess players the chance to challenge stereotypes, inspire future generations, and demonstrate their strategic prowess on a global stage. As FIDE celebrates its 100th anniversary it marks this milestone by reinforcing its commitment to promoting gender diversity through chess.

The tournaments in the Series will take place on the FIDE Online Arena every Wednesday, at 17:00 CET, starting on Wednesday, 31 January 2024, and are open to all women who hold FIDE or Arena titles. Prizes totaling USD $1,000 per tournament will be awarded, with a potential prize fund of USD $100,000.

Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive Officer of World Chess said: “As we launch the Women’s Wednesday Online Tournament Series, we’re not just setting up chess boards; we’re building a community. This innovation goes beyond the sport. It’s about giving a voice and a stage to women in chess, encouraging them to showcase not only their strategic acumen but also their personalities and stories through streaming.

‘I hope that every move will inspire someone watching. I am also looking forward to working with female athletes to collectively enhance chessarena.com, making it their preferred permanent home for online chess.’

Dana Reizniece-Ozola, FIDE Managing Director, stated: ‘The Women’s Wednesday Online Tournament Series marks a significant milestone in FIDE’s ongoing commitment to gender equality in chess. This series isn’t just about playing a game; it’s about empowering women to take centre stage in an arena they have long been a part of.

‘We encourage participants to stream their games, showcasing not just their chess skills but also their unique personalities and perspectives. This is more than a tournament – it’s a movement towards a more inclusive and dynamic chess community.’

FY 2023 Operational Update

World Chess plc (LSE: CHSS), a prominent chess organisation committed to enhancing the global mass market appeal of chess by introducing a variety of innovative chess-related activities, is pleased to present an update on its developments for the full year 2023.

Photos: World Chess

Highlights:

· IPO and admission to trading on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange, raising gross proceeds of approx. £3 million
· Opening of the World Chess Club, Berlin
· Launch of the inaugural Armageddon Chess Championship Series and signed it.com Domains as official sponsor in 3-year deal
· Armageddon content shown across 33 television networks, including Bloomberg television in EMEA and CNBC
· Investment in online chess playing platform FIDE Online Arena and introduction of Arena 2.0
· Agreed share subscription with existing shareholder raising approx. €1.5m

Since its admission to the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in April 2023 and raising gross proceeds of approx. £3 million of new funds in the process, World Chess has been executing its multi-channel strategy to take the game to new audiences through media, events, clubs, merchandise and online playing. In September 2023, the Company raised additional funds of approx. €1.5m via a share subscription with an existing shareholder to support its growth projects.

FIDE Online Arena

World Chess is the exclusive operator of FIDE (The International Chess Federation) Online Arena (chessarena.com), the online chess platform, which has 740,000 registered users and provides players with an online rating recognised by the International Chess Federation. After committing further investment, the Company launched Arena 2.0 in October 2023, bringing important upgrades to the platform, including technology upgrades that make the platform one of the fastest in the industry, as well as exciting consumer-facing updates, such as personalised chess board skins. These upgrades are expected to support the Company’s player acquisition strategy, with the inclusion of a revised monthly subscription model and a host of new features that enhance the playing experience.

The FIDE Online Arena’s anti-cheating system, NightWatch, received official certification from FIDE, which underscores the platform’s commitment to fair play and the integrity of online chess competitions.

World Chess Club Berlin

In May, World Chess successfully opened its first club in Berlin. The Company is pleased to report that the club is performing well at this early stage, establishing a cultural hub for the game. Sales have been building through its café, merchandise shop and chess events, such as the staging of the Armageddon Chess Championship Series. World Chess is in the process of assessing sites in other international cities for the opening of additional clubs and hopes to provide an update on this in due course.

Merchandise

World Chess sells merchandise both online, from its partner retailer network and from its Berlin club, with a product range covering both premium chess boards and pieces, clothing and collectibles for chess enthusiasts. New products have been introduced in recent months, including the limited-edition chess map artwork, which was designed by the artist Yuri Gordon as well as an expanded range of chess sets.

Armageddon Championship Series

In March, the inaugural Armageddon Championship Series commenced, with world’s top male and female players competed for the €460,000 total prize fund, which concluded at the Grand Finale held at the World Chess Club Berlin in September. Polish Grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda emerged victorious and took the €80,000 winner’s prize. As part of the commercial development, World Chess signed it.com Domains as the Championships’ official sponsor in a three-year deal worth over €1.2 million.

Armageddon has brought a fresh new twist to chess with its high-speed format and the intensity this creates in matches. The format has proven to be a captivating entertainment product for TV audiences, with the Grand Finale streamed across 147 territories with 33 international broadcasters, including Bloomberg television in EMEA, CNBC, beIN SPORTS, Fox Australia and Sports Tv Turkey, running the highlights.

Commenting on the World Chess’s progress in 2023, Ilya Merenzon, CEO, said: “Chess is one of the oldest sports in the world, yet it’s one of the youngest in terms of commercialisation. It is World Chess’s ambition to reinvent chess for new audiences and new experiences. Some aspects of chess, such as merchandising, have been ignored to date despite the immense rise in popularity globally. In 2023, our first year as a listed company, we invested in products, technology and processes and we now intend to deploy these for the benefit of the investors and the sport in general.”

Rise of online chess platforms sees a 41% decline in UK chess club membership

The UK government’s proposed £1 million investment in chess is coming at the right time according to a YouGov poll, conducted in association with World Chess and it.com Domains, which shows an extensive decline in chess club memberships. Only 6% of those who continue to play either regularly or within the past 12 months have a chess club member in the UK, whilst 41.2% have historically been a chess club member, but have left over time.

UK player numbers static

The decline in membership of the traditional chess club correlates to the ascension of online chess platforms, with the overall percentage of the UK population who play chess on a regular basis or within the last 12 months remaining flat at 13% over the past 10 years. The percentage proportion of male to female players has also remained consistent at 69% and 31% respectively.

London & South East is the UK’s chess hot spot

London and the South East of England was the only region where the survey found a meaningful number of players who are currently members of a chess club, at 5.6% but still recorded a 43% reduction in terms of players rescinding their chess club memberships over time. The same region also recorded the highest proportion of players, with 17.3% of the survey group playing either regularly or within the past year. This climbed to 21% when counting London alone.

The second most populous UK chess region was Northern Ireland, with 11.5%, closely followed by Scotland with 11% and the North of England with 10.5% The Midlands had the lowest proportion of players at 6% followed by Wales with 7.7%.

Germany outperforms the UK with 17% growth in chess participation

The results of the UK survey come in comparison to a German survey, with data showing player numbers increasing by 17% over the past 10 years in Germany. The survey indicated that 23.3% of Germany’s 83 million population is either playing regularly or has played within the past 12 months, up from 19.9% in 2012. 18.9% of regular players were shown to also be members of chess clubs, whilst 32.7% of those who play either regularly or within the past 12 months had left their chess clubs over time.

Low awareness of elite-level chess

The survey also found that a minimal 2% of the participants could name the current Chess World Champion, China’s Ding Liren, whilst 9% incorrectly thought it was the previously reigning champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen. German participants only did marginally better, with 3% knowing Ding Liren but a higher 10% assumed it was still Magnus Carlsen.

When the UK participants were asked where the current Champion was from, 7% correctly answered China, whilst 16% incorrectly believed Russia and another 8% Norway. These findings weren’t dissimilar to those in Germany where 3% correctly identified China as the Champion’s home country whilst 11% and 10% answered with Russia and Norway respectively.

Commenting on the survey, Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, said:“Whilst online chess platforms deliver the game on-demand, it has always been a sociable pastime. Chess player numbers have remained consistent over the past 10 years, but we expect that Covid has also impacted chess club membership, as it has with other leisure pursuits. The UK government’s recently announced plans to invest in chess initiatives, which we are hopeful will help generate new clubs and foster a new generation of players.

‘As an international chess organisation, we do see a trend in the de-virtualization of chess, and people’s interest in not playing alone. We recently opened World Chess Club Berlin, Germany, where we are focused on redefining the traditional chess club culture by creating a dedicated hub for playing, socialising and hosting tournaments, and where membership is not required. Building on the early success of this model and the interest we have seen from people wanting to play chess in an entertaining environment, we are looking to open new sites in other major city locations.’



Andrey Insarov, CEO of it.com Domains, added: ‘We recognize the transformative power of online chess platforms in fostering a global community of chess enthusiasts. The decline in chess club membership underscores the importance of supporting and embracing these traditional institutions. By leveraging the digital realm, they can not only reach new audiences but also invigorate and strengthen chess communities worldwide, ensuring the timeless game of chess continues to thrive, both offline and online. Together with our partner World Chess, we are committed to supporting this intelligent sport, providing its community with the right tools and resources to stay relevant and thrive.’

Survey results by UK region (2,136 participants)

UK Region % who has played chess within last 12 months % of players surveyed currently a chess club member % of players surveyed who have not renewed the membership over time
London & South East 17.3 5.6 43
Northern Ireland 11.5 0 17.6
Scotland 11.0 1.6 8.1
North 10.5 0 22
East 10.4 0 45
South West 8.1 0 9.9
Wales 7.7 0 16.7
Midlands 6.0 1.7 40
 2988   6 mo   breaking news   main feature   YouGov
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