For a decade I organised a series of annual international tournaments that in terms of quality and impact proved to be a successful rival to the so much better funded Malaysian Chess Festival.
Till today many people have asked me how I did it and here I will briefly share the key success factors.
While it is very important to have your own identity, we also tried to meet the changing demands of the local and regional environment. There were KL Opens together with Challengers, and there were KL Masters held as a round robin title and norm event, and once we even added an Age-Group Championships.
So many players became GMs, IMs, WGMs and WIMs over the years at the KL Open and even more developed their game there.
In terms of budgeting so as to be able to run the event well, we took the sponsorship, typically RM 100,000-RM 150,000 and roughly split it into three equal thirds. One third for the prize fund, one third for organising, and one third for PR in its many forms. That still allowed us to call it a RM 100,000 or RM 150,000 tournament!
The late Florencio Campomanes, probably the best organiser Asia has ever seen, if I remember right, put this best: “Not the prize fund. People remember the location – the city, the playing venue and the hotel, the food… and your hospitality – and if you have all this is in place, then your event is a success!” I would add today, the advantage the Bangkok Chess Club Open, now entering it’s 20th year, has over all others!
To be a major chess event, the right mix must be in place, and that to me was firstly at least one big name or someone who could bring an extra dimension to the event, sufficient titled players to allow for title norms, and a broad regional participation including having a sizable number of youth and that of the fairer sex.
So I will always be grateful to Hou Yifan for agreeing to play as her comprehensive victory so impressed the sponsors that we got immediate support for another three years, also to mention just one of many, Sergey Tiviakov for being a constant presence and winner for many years, and for the very large contingents coming every year from Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Uzbekistan. Of course India and Australia too!