May 8, 2005
The HB Global Chess Challenge is now less than ten days away! It's hard to believe that over a year and a half of hard work is about to come to fruition. I have heard from many of you that this venture really has truly resonated in your imagination. Believe me when I say that I sincerely appreciate all the kind words of support.
As I write these words, there are approximately 1,400 advanced registrations. This is already a very impressive number. Consider that the World Open, with an over 30 year track record, normally brings in around 1,200 players, and it becomes clear that the HB Global has already generated tremendous excitement in the minds of the chess playing public. I have heard stories of folks who have not played a tournament game in over 20 years dusting off the old chess set and getting ready to try to win the big money. A few such players are over 70 years young, and talking about making like Korchnoi to show the young "whipper-snappers" a thing or two about old school technique. It's that kind of spirit this tournament wants to bring back to chess. That competitive energy and pure love the game has been missing now for some time. The HB Global hopes to tap into a spirit that has not been seen in American chess since the 1970's. We hope to be a driving force that gets folks excited about chess in a big way, and that could push our game forward and upward to a different level of respect in the American, and certainly world, consciousness.
Naturally, we could not do this without the support of the players. Each one of the registered players is making a statement: that chess is important, that chess deserves true recognition as a serious activity, and that chess tournaments should be showcased in spectacular venues. The sponsors of the HB Global have taken a huge gamble, to the tune of $500,000 in guaranteed cash and all the expenses that it takes to pull off a tournament of this magnitude. The reasons the HB Foundation took such a dramatic step were twofold. First, they believe in the value of chess for young people. Check out their web site at www.hbfoundation.org to see how committed they are to bringing the many wonderful benefits of our game to kids. And secondly, they trust that chess players will come out in big numbers to support their own game. Fourteen hundred chess players have answered the call. I expect that there will be many more valiant souls showing up from all over the country at the last minute to throw their hats into the ring. Each one of these "weekend warriors" will make a difference. Every single player who stands up to be counted will go on record as being a part of an historic moment in the annals of the game. What a moment it is going to be!
I hope to see you there. Thanks for being part of the future of the chess.